Check in with the latest news and information about volunteering in parks.

Mass planting event to create a riverside forest

The vision of a native forest corridor along the Ōtākaro Avon River will take a big step forward on Saturday 7 August as hundreds of volunteers put spades in the ground at Dallington.

All participants are required to register through the Conservation Volunteers New Zealand website(external link)

Read more on Newsline(external link)

Weeding out riverside complacency

23 June 2021

Eager to be “part of the solution” and not simply onlookers, Gen and Malcolm Long have dug deep to rescue reserves and riverside tracks from smothering weeds.

The busy couple are part of the volunteer army working with Christchurch City Council staff to keep parks, reserves, paths and tracks beautiful.

Find out more on Newsline(external link)

Love of gardening sows seeds for volunteer work

20 Jun 2021

For passionate gardener Susan Lawrence taking people on tours around Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens is a labour of love.

She signed onto become a volunteer guide at the Botanic Gardens in 2012 after spotting a recruitment ad in the gardening pages of The Press newspaper.

Read more on Newsline(external link)

From high-flying property manager to Port Hills park ranger

14 Jun 2021

A chance meeting over a stinkhorn fungus four years ago sparked a whole new life for Christchurch City Council Park Ranger and volunteer team leader Fiona Fenton.

After a high-flying 20 year career managing commercial property in San Francisco and London, including the famed Covent Garden estate, Fiona took a year off after moving to Christchurch with her husband in 2015.

Read more on Newsline(external link)

Planting days to bring workmates together

25 May 2021

Grab your workmates, pop on a pair of gloves, pick up a spade and help plant thousands of trees to offset carbon emissions and mark World Environment and Arbor Day.

Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ) is hosting their first, big Cranford Basin community planting day of the winter season on Saturday 29 May, in conjunction with Christchurch City Council.  

Read more at Newsline(external link)

Students helping to green the red-zone

24 August 2020

School students from throughout Christchurch are joining forces to help green the red-zone.

The students, with the support of the Eco Action Nursery Trust, have already planted thousands of native trees in part of New Brighton’s red zone and plan to plant 10,000 more next year.

Eco Action Nursery Trust Chair David Newton, who is also head of physics at Christ’s College, says 11 schools are currently involved in the red zone plantings but more are coming on board.

Read more on Newsline(external link)

Planting event welcomes the rainbow community

19 August 2020

Christchurch’s rainbow community will have the chance to go green at a volunteer planting event that's a first for the city.

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community worked alongside Christchurch City Council park rangers at Plant with Pride. (external link)

Read more on Newsline(external link)

Hundreds turn out to recreate healthy habitats

Ciara Foley, a member of Students Strike for Climate Change

26 July 2020

Hundreds of volunteers planted more than 2000 native seedlings across Christchurch this weekend.

About 500 trees went in the ground along the Styx River in north Christchurch, 1800 were planted in the city’s red zone and more went into Halswell Quarry.

Read more on Stuff online(external link)





Family-focused Matariki huge success

20 July 2020

With the rising of Matariki falling within school holidays and KidFest this year, a family-focused programme of planting events saw record numbers taking part.

Starting with the annual dawn planting at the Rongoa garden, Styx, 20 people including young tamariki got stuck into planting trees in the dark,  despite the frosty conditions. A fire-side breakfast and korero warmed everyone up before the sun and 40 more volunteers arrived for the family planting event. 


Another event the following week at West Broken Run, Wigram saw lots more families planting in celebration of Matariki. Some sharp-eyed young planters spotted a skink scurrying away as they dug - a great find! Some of our hidden biodiversity in an urban park.

Volunteering a great way to learn about the environment

23 June 2020

Watching wetland birds on a crisp Saturday morning is a rewarding way to start the day for 10-year-old Willow. She is the Styx Purakaunu Living Laboratory Trust(external link)’s youngest volunteer and one of about a dozen people who meet on the first Saturday of each month to record bird numbers and their species. Read more on Newsline(external link)

Rediscovering what makes you feel good

15 June 2020

The All Right team have done an amazing job of providing us with cheery tips and resources to keep our spirits up throughout the past few months. Volunteering in parks is the perfect way to fit the five ways to wellbeing into your life.

  • Connect – with your community by joining a working bee in a park near you.
  • Be active – with some light digging work.
  • Take notice – of your hands in the soil.
  • Keep learning – soak up some park ranger knowledge.
  • Give – your time and your mahi to make our parks a better place.

We look forward to seeing you all for winter planting.

Planting picks up after lockdown

9 June 2020

Parks volunteers were out in force during Level two, with the easing of restrictions well-timed to acknowledge Arbor Day - an international celebration of trees.

At least 10 events and over 400 volunteers took place in parks all over Christchurch city on and around Arbor Day, to plant trees and give thanks for the vital role that trees play in our everyday lives.

Organisers of Eco-Action Nursery Trust's first event for 2020, at QEII, were blown away with the attendance; which saw 1500 plants grown by students planted out into the park in just over an hour.

Read more on Newsline(external link)

Volunteering under Covid-19

28 April 2020

We're following the Government's advice and cancelling or postponing any upcoming volunteer events under Level 3. You can still get out and about and enjoy many of our parks – please practice social distancing if visiting.

What volunteering will look like under Level 2 is still being confirmed but we hope we can launch back into action. To ensure we stay within the Level 2 guidelines, volunteers will most likely need to pre-register their attendance before volunteering events.

A school with community spirit

27 November 2019


Shirley Boys' High School students doing demolition work.

Parks staff played host to several teams of Year 9 students from Shirley Boys' High School last week, as part of their Term 4 Community Engagement Project. 

One hundred and twenty students spread over three locations at Bottle Lake, Broad Park and QEII park doing tasks such as willow control, rubbish collection, mulching and fence demolition.

The entire Year 9 class of 300 were occupied on the day also helping at the wetlands restoration Brooker Reserve with the AVON Network, as well as helping out at North New Brighton KidsFirst, Ferndale School, Rawhiti and Parkview Schools.

Shirley Boys' High School has co-located to QEII Park and is looking to establish a long-term relationship there, supporting the development of the Master Plan. Via the ECO-action Nursery Trust, they have begun to plant up the area, using plants grown by students, from seed collected at nearby Travis Wetland.

Snakes alive!


Director Wulf Borrmeister is planning to make this a regular monthly team event. 

27 November 2019

In our ever-increasingly busy lives, one barrier to giving back to the community is simply not having enough time to volunteer.

That is where employer-supported volunteering becomes so valuable. Last week the team at Borrmeister Architects took a break from their desks to do rubbish collection in their “backyard”. The company offices look directly onto Settlers Reserve, on the edge of the lower Ōpāwaho - Heathcote River. They found plastic bags, bottles and cans, lighters and bottle tops and even a few plastic toys!

This simple act of picking up rubbish from the river’s edge may have saved a shag’s life. This plastic snake floating in the tide could easily be mistaken for an eel or lamprey, snapped up by a hungry bird and swallowed whole.

He rau ringa e oti ai Many hands make light work.


International Volunteers Dayundefined

The act of volunteering is found in all cultures, languages, and religions. Each year, hundreds of millions of people gift their time and skills to help make the world a better place. When they volunteer, they help to improve the lives of others. And when they volunteer, they also gain a greater sense of belonging to their communities.

On 5 December, people around the world will celebrate this day with group clean ups, blood donations, conferences, exhibitions, fundraising, workshops and volunteer recognition events. We want to say thank you to some of the unsung heroes out working in our parks and green spaces. Nominate your favourite parks volunteer by Wednesday 27 November and we will send ten volunteers a free t-shirt for International Volunteers Day!  One lucky nominator will also be in with a chance to win a tee too.  

Walking the talk


Students from Hillmorton High's Environmental and Social Studies Groups

2 October 2019

Over 200 people planted 1300 plants in under an hour at Halswell Quarry last Saturday, with many citing the Friday’s strike for climate change being a motivating factor.

Organised corporate groups, schools, local families and individuals turned up to plant, mulch and offset carbon credits. The atmosphere was fizzing.

A group of students from Hillmorton said that they had been at the protest the day before and were at the park to put their ‘talk’ into action for the environment. “We just want to help out,” said one student.

David and Alex, their young child and David’s father were there for the first time planting at the Quarry. “Grandpop wants to offset his future trips from Sweden,” said David. “So many people say the strike does nothing but obviously it does something,” he said, looking around at the crowds of people. 

A group of 20 staff from Christchurch regional, Riccarton and Papanui branches of SBS Bank were there to reach their corporate targets of supporting community. “We get together, have a social event and do something positive at the same time,” said Brendan.

The event even attracted a short guest appearance by Ruud Kleinpaste with some of his invertebrate friends.

This event was a collaboration between Council and Trees for Canterbury. “If I plant a million trees no one cares, but if WE plant a million trees everyone cares,” said Steve Bush (Trees for Canterbury).

World Rivers Day


CVNZ’s Hamish Fairbairn directs the health and safety briefing

30 September 2019

The Ōpāwaho / Heathcote River was the site of not one, but five, community events to celebrate World Rivers Day on Sunday 22 September.

The day started at Steamwharf Stream Reserve with a fabulous talk on inanga by EOS Ecology’s Kirsty Brennan. Urban ranger Karen Smith bought a few plants along, quickly planted by the Green Welfare Team to enhance this gorgeous pocket park.

Cherries preschool held a fabulous event on Donkey Track with amazing kai (food), educational activities and joyous mahi (work).

Gen Long, of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network, supported by Hamish Fairbairn of CVNZ, led over 50 people in weeding, mulching and planting at Farnley Reserve – the locals just kept arriving.

A multi-agency Hub space opposite Zeroes café had Environment Canterbury(external link)'s Stormwater Superheroes, ENGEO(external link) testing water clarity, and kids making tracking tunnels with Predator Free Port Hills(external link).

The day finished with planting at Radley Park with Roimata Food Commons(external link) and friends of Laura Kent Reserve.

It’s so inspiring to see the amount of energy the community has for their local waterway – local families walking their wheelbarrows down the riverside track to help out was such a cool site. The network does an amazing job of connecting all these individual community groups together to share in the combined power of their collective efforts.  

Leaders of change - from the ground up

22 September 2019

Over the last month, over 500 students from 12 schools all over Ōtautahi Christchurch have got their hands dirty at planting events in our parks. 

Park rangers have been busy supporting students to take action for the environment. Every age, from early childhood to high school have done their bit, with an estimated 3000 plants in the ground this month. 

This year has seen an increase in the councils’ support for school planting projects thanks to the community partnerships fund. Schools who want to take a kaitiaki (guardian) role in their local park have been encouraged to explore and learn about the natural environment before attending a planting day.

A planting day is now so much more than just a nice day out of the classroom, it's about students building community connections and understanding their place and role in the world around them.

Schools and parks involved included Heathcote Valley School at Birdsey Reserve, St James at Bexley Park, Burnside and St Patricks Primary at Wairarapa Stream, Jellie Park, Te Waka Unua and Hagley High at Te Oranga Waikura, Papanui High at Bridgestone Reserve, St Margarets at Seafield Park and Sumner School at Sumnervale.

Crowd-sourcing our planting progress 

The #GrowBexley photo point takes its first photo.

4 September 2019

Crowd-sourced photo-monitoring points have been set up at several volunteer planting sites, thanks to the innovation and creative thinking of coastal park ranger Jason Roberts.  

This post and cradle hold a mobile phone in place to ensure that a photo taken to record each stage of a project is taken from the exact same point. This means these can be later pieced together as a time-lapse record of the progress – an extremely powerful storytelling tool.

A small sign will be added to the posts to encourage people to take a photo and share it via social media with a hashtag that will enable us to find and track the images captured.  

Parks so far where you’ll find one of these photo points are Southshore Spit Reserve #GrowSouthshore and Bexley Park #GrowBexley.

Wild weather no deterrent for Philippine fraternity 

Members of Alpha Phi Omega brave the wild weather to plant trees at Halswell Quarry Park.

22 August 2019

Enthusiastic members of the Filippino community turned out in torrential rain for a planting day at Halswell Quarry Park last weekend.

The group belong to Alpha Phi Omega, which is a service-oriented international fraternity encouraging members to do volunteer work in their community. They have committed to plant and maintain an area of Halswell Quarry Park with which they have formed a relationship in recent years, attending a number of planting days.

Around 800 native trees and shrubs were planted, followed by a barbecue huddled beneath a shelter. Council park rangers agreed to arrange a sunny day for their next working bee.


How to plant natives in a coastal zone

13 August 2019

Check out Coastal Ranger Jason Roberts as he demonstrates the best method to plant native plants in old sand dunes - the typical coastal environment in New Zealand.

Christchurch students planting for the future

12 August 2019

Ciara Foley, 15, is organising a planting day on 18 August to help students take positive environmental action.

Local students are turning concern about climate change into positive action with a plan to plant more than 500 native trees.

About 50 high school and intermediate students, who are members of Christchurch School Strike 4 Climate, will take part in a voluntary planting effort(external link) at Pūharakekenui/Styx River Loop Conservation Park on Sunday 18 August.

“We’ve always wanted to do something local and practical that will bring environmental change. We’ve advertised the planting day on social media and had a really good response. I think it will be great for students to feel like we’re achieving something positive.”

Christchurch City Council’s Regional Parks Team is supporting the project by providing shrubs, trees and mulch. Council Park Rangers will also be on hand to supervise and give advice and a vegetarian barbecue is being held as part of the event.

Red Bus has agreed to transport the students to and from the site to reduce their carbon footprint. Red Bus Chief Executive Paul McNoe says he admires the students initiative and "commitment to sustainable action". 

Ciara says the encouragement from the Council and Red Bus has been “really amazing”.  

Council Regional Parks Manager Kay Holder is impressed by the students’ practical approach. “This planting will contribute to the ongoing restoration of an ecological corridor from the source of the Styx River to the sea.

“Their time and effort will help with the Council’s ongoing efforts to transform what was previously a paddock into regenerating lowland forest.”

The shrubs and trees being planted, which include tōtara, broadleaf (kapuka) and kahikatea, have been eco-sourced from the area – meaning the seeds they grew from were harvested locally.

Other tasks for the students will include weeding and mulching of existing plants. 

The planting day will happen about a month ahead of the students’ next planned strike action on 27 September.

Volunteers enjoy a perfect planting day

Volunteers enjoy a perfect planting 

Volunteers on track to plant 10,000 plants at Halswell Quarry Park this season

29 July 2019

Saturday saw around 150 volunteers descend on Halswell Quarry Park to plant 1,000 native plants from the 10,000 designated for the park this season.

Park ranger Nigel Morritt said volunteer numbers had been steadily increasing at Halswell Quarry Park with great support from local residents, schools and other organisations keen to help out.

There was a noticeable increase in younger volunteers with many children introduced to the park through education programmes and school visits who then return with friends and family. 

With only a few planting days to go, volunteers will have planted and mulched 10,000 native plants at Halswell Quarry Park this season.

Rain-day planting at West Broken Run

20 July 2019

A cold and drizzly day did little to discourage families from descending on West Broken Run to plant up the urban park in Wigram.

Several families turned up after Saturday sport was cancelled, dressed for the weather in gumboots and raincoats. It was extra special to see families climbing the fence between their homes and the park to get stuck into planting. A group of young people from a local accounting firm came for a team-building activity.

Collectively we put 600 native plants in the ground. Department of Conservation’s trainee ranger Georgia was on hand to reward the community's efforts with a Kiwi Guardian Tree Planter certificate.

The BBQ and hot drinks to finish warmed up our damp planters, with most people staying to mingle and chat despite the drizzle.

This is the third community planting event held in this reserve, enhancing the biodiversity and aesthetics of this urban park in the upper reaches of the Opawaho Heathcote River. 

Ara International Student Facilitator Chiaki Bowlam-Smith planting native trees

Ara International Student Facilitator Chiaki Bowlam-Smith planting native trees at Halswell Quarry Park

International students dig in at Halswell Quarry Park

1 July 2019

Thirty international students from Ara visited Halswell Quarry Park yesterday to plant native trees as part of an on-going restoration planting programme at the park.

International students from Ara regularly volunteer their time to do planting and maintenance at Halswell Quarry, organised by Ara student facilitator Chiaki Bowlam-Smith.

The enthusiastic group planted around 400 native trees and shrubs, some of them enjoying their first experience at planting trees. 


True champions of Christchurch’s green spaces

17 June 2019

Christchurch’s unsung green guardians of city parks are in the spotlight as National Volunteer Week celebrates their collective contribution to our community.

Read more(external link)

‘Spade date’ plants seeds of romance on Christchurch's Port Hills

12 February 2019

Fancy a spade date in the Port Hills on Valentine’s Day?

Organised by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ) and Christchurch City Council Parks staff, Christchurch’s inaugural spade-dating evening is being held from 5.45pm on Thursday, 14 February.

People can join fellow volunteers at a “romantic spot” on the Port Hills to help care for Arbor Day plantings, followed by a picnic while taking in the spectacular view over the Canterbury Plains.

Read more(external link)