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Join the chorus in your backyard...
20 October 2014


Birds make them.

So do cyclists – even hard out single speed mountainbike type ones.

And it was a cyclist’s tweet about birds tweeting that pointed me to a curious place in the universe where recreation, social media and conservation all got mixed up.

In some ways that’s what Virtually On Track is all about.

But back to the start.

In my past role as a communications advisor for the Department of Conservation it was my business to keep an eye on emerging trends, so Twitter came on my radar when it was still quite new.

One of those early tweets was something to the effect of “great ride hearing the shining cuckoos at Whirinaki”.

I traced the tweet to a guy who was into riding single speed mountainbikes.

That single tweet gave me proof that being a thrill seeker and a lover of natural heritage are not polar opposites. Some of us move from one to the other as the mood or opportunity suits.

In some cases it is possible to be both.

In the intervening years I’ve gathered a heap more evidence; a young girl out for a mountainbike ride stopping her Dad to show him a kiwi print in the mud; off-road runners adopting stoat trap rounds to combine training and help a kiwi project; a recent Red Bull Bulletin article by a world-renowned MTB race photographer and his pro-racer wife in which not a word was said about a jump, track camber or thrill other than that of being in a magnificent forest.

In many examples, those who came to play such as the off-road runners already mentioned have become those helping to make the place even better.

And in making it better, it prompts others to come and enjoy your experience – why wouldn’t your mates join you for a twilight run along Toi’s Track in the Whakatane and Ohiwa Gem when the chances of seeing a real, wild, kiwi are 50/50 or better?

That’s why Virtually On Track includes conservation and environmental restoration groups alongside the recreation clubs – both have an essential role in creating the experience at the gems.

So if you love your jumps, berms and white-knuckle downhills take a second to look around and maybe, just maybe you’ll want to help boost the happy tweet volume that’s being generated from the Virtually On Track gem in your backyard.

This post was written by

Steve Brightwell - who has written 17 posts

Steve Brightwell is a partnership ranger with the Department of Conservation.

He has been a part of the Virtually On Track team from the project's inception.

Steve lives in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, has a communications background, and is a weekend warrior of modest multisport ability.

The views he expresses for this blog are his own and do not necessarily reflect or imply official policy of the Department of Conservation.

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