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Natural setting .. Ashley Gorge is a North Canterbury treasure.On track .. John Burton, left, and Dave Shelton are track-building warriors. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Take a couple of inspired locals, mix well with the local community, bind with our young folks’ future vision, generously sprinkle with support from local businesses and we have the stunning Ashley Gorge Loop Track.

Ashley Gorge locals Dave Shelton and John Burton, along with countless volunteers, as well as school and community groups, have been developing tracks in the Mt Thomas Conservation Area, next to the Ashley Gorge Recreation Reserve, over the last three years.

The first stage is a 1.5km loop track. Now they are working on a track to a waterfall, followed by a route to the top of a hill.

But it doesn’t stop there. Dave and some keen students are running an extensive trapping programme to reduce possum, rat and stoat numbers to give the native flora and fauna a chance to flourish.

People can learn more about the work the group has undertaken by coming to the Ashley Gorge Conservation Week event on Sunday, September 22, from 11am to 3pm.

There will be something for the whole family, including the dog, with guided or self-directed walks, a treasure hunt for children, displays on the track development and traps, and activities for children such as making a bird-feeder. Or people can simply relax and picnic by the river.

There will also be special guest appearances by conservation dogs Cody and Macca, showing their amazing pest detection skills.

Kiwi guardians

Toyota Kiwi Guardian sites are coming to Ashley Gorge and Wooded Gully.

Toyota Kiwi Guardians connect Kiwi kids to nature and encourages them to become guardians of our land and sea.

The idea allows children to have ownership over conservation land – to feel part of it and encourage them to care for it into the future. The programme focuses on children but will connect the whole family to nature and to conservation.

Kiwi kids become Kiwi Guardians by downloading a map of one of the 108 Kiwi Guardian sites (50 in the South Island) from kiwiguardians.co.nz.

Explore with the map to find the unique special code word for the site and enter it online to receive a medal in the post. Youngsters can collect as many medals as they want.

Currently, there are eight Kiwi Guardian sites around Christchurch and Banks Peninsula and one at Arthurs Pass National Park.

The Ashley Gorge and Wooded Gully sites at the Mt Thomas Conservation Area will be up and running before the end of the year.

As a special introduction to Toyota Kiwi Guardians for Conservation Week, all children who complete the treasure hunt at Ashley Gorge on Sunday, September 22, will receive a special Kiwi Guardian Explorer Medal.