It’s almost a year since I started working with Wanaka’s Young Change Makers. One of the first actions we took part in was to create a Google Map of the cool free stuff to do in Wanaka, not only for residents of Wanaka but also so that any visitors that come here can see what’s going on that won’t cost them the Earth.

When we were down at Wanaka Station Park the other week, foraging for food for Regeneration, we realised that there were a few fruit and nut trees tucked away in some hidden places. So, it seemed only natural that we could add some information about these trees onto our Google map. There is some very active conversation about foraging maps here in Wanaka at the moment, so we are hoping that us publishing this information about trees in a public place won’t upset anyone too much.

View Kahu Youth in a larger map
It’s a pretty simple process really. I printed out a Google Map of Wanaka Station Park, got the van and picked up the crew from MAC. Once at the park we went for a walk. As we walked around we noted roughly on the map where the trees were and what they were.

To identify them, we looked for the fruit or nuts that they bore. In the case of trees which had long since born their fruits we looked at the floor to see if we could identify the stones that were left from the uneaten fruit that fell. The shapes of the leaves were a big help too, especially with the walnuts, one of the trees wasn’t as far advanced as the other and the walnuts looked very different indeed, but the leaves gave it away.

We found many many more fruit and nut trees than we expected. We also noticed a lot of mushrooms growing on the floor, I’m not a fungus eater so I didn’t get too excited by this, but Rich was very excited to find a fine specimen of what he said was a field mushroom. You’ll also notice that the conker trees feature on our map, we know that you can;t eat them, but they are the essential ingredient for a really fun and pretty much free game.

We discovered last year that the beach near Wanaka Station Park is one of the best in town for skimming stones, it seemed rude to be so close and not go and bounce a few stones. It always makes me smile when the competition turns to who can skim the oddest shape stone they find, it’s a challenge, doing something that isn’t supposed to work. Of course we can all skim a beautifully flat pebble, but what about one that exists more in three dimensions?

I really enjoy working on mapping projects with young people. I believe that it connects us a little more with out place, it causes us to re-look at the things around us, take a little more notice in what we have. The other great thing about it is that it’s free to do and the result is that we can share some information with other people, in the hope that it will bring a little more happiness to their lives in some small way.