connecting with nature is good for your mind

Whenua is about your connection to the place you belong: the scenery, the plants and flowers, the manu song.

Whenua is the foundation for the other parts of wellbeing in Te Whare Tapa Whā. Nature is alive with the same spiritual force or mauri that lives in human beings. It gives us life and energy – and if we don’t take care of it, our wellbeing suffers.

Whatever our perspective on the world, research shows that spending time in nature makes us calmer, happier and mentally healthier.

discover what's on your doorstep

Boosting your mood can be as easy as grabbing your sneakers, bike or surf board and spending a few hours outside.

You don’t have to go far – there are beautiful paths for walking, cycling and tramping all over the motu. At the Department of Conservation’s website, you can see what’s on offer in your local area. From an short stroll around a nature reserve to a ten-day tramp through the Southern Fiords, there’s something for everyone!

department of conservation: find places to go walking and tramping

If you’re after an adventure, you could walk part of Te Araroa, a 3,000 km path that connects the whole of New Zealand. The trail runs from Cape Reinga in the North Island to the deepest reaches of the South, through some of the country's most amazing scenery. You can do walks that take a few hours to a couple of days – or even the whole thing!

te araroa

If you want to take nature at a faster pace, you could try Ngā Haerenga – a network of 22 cycle trails all over New Zealand.

ngā haerenga

take care of your whenua

Whenua isn’t only about what nature can do for us – it's just as important to looking after our world for the people, plants and animals who come next.

Forest and Bird Youth is a network of young people who work together to protect New Zealand’s wildlife. There are local groups all over the country, and heaps of activities you could get involved in.

forest and bird: youth

The Department of Conservation website has more information about volunteering opportunities, and ideas for conservation activities.

department of conservation

Want to work in conservation?

You could make whenua your full-time job.

Wellington’s ecosanctuary Zealandia has a great online resource where you can learn what life as a conservation worker is like, and what qualifications and training could help you get your first role.

zealandia: careers in conservation

live sustainably

There are lots of ways you can do your bit to protect nature and connect with what’s around you at the same time.

You can grow flowers on your windowsill to feed the bees and bugs, buy local veggies that don’t come wrapped in plastic, or take time to walk to school or work in the morning!

notice what's around you

Whenua doesn’t have to mean making huge changes to your life – just noticing the world around you can be enough to calm your mind and boost your mood. In fact, The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand lists “taking notice” as one of the five most important things you can do to improve your wellbeing.

This could mean just sitting outside for a few minutes a day and focusing on what you can see, hear and feel. It could mean going for a walk without your phone or headphones, taking photos of pretty views and putting them up in your flat, or learning the reo Māori or Latin names of plants and birds. Get more ideas at the Mental Health Foundation website.

mental health foundation: five ways to wellbeing

Mindfulness is all about noticing. It’s a practice of giving all your attention to the moment you’re in, and can help deal with stress, anxiety and depression.

mindful: getting started at meditation