Caring for the environment  |  2 Feb 2024

Avoid the cheesy rom-coms on telly and try a Valentine’s Day ‘spade-date’ in Christchurch’s red zone instead.

Organised by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ) and Christchurch City Council Parks staff, Ōtautahi’s spade-dating event is back for its third year – this time, in the red zone.

Spade-dating was created by CVNZ Regional Coordinator Hamish Fairbairn and Council Community Partnership Ranger Sarah Mankelow to encourage conservation through restoration plantings, while offering a chance for singles to meet like-minded people in their community.

“The idea behind spade-dating was to bring together any keen conservationists who want to head to the wild at the thought of Valentine’s Day,” says Mr Fairbairn.

“After such positive feedback from our 2019 and 2020 events, we decided to bring the volunteering event back for 2024, now at a romantic spot on the banks of the Ōtākaro Avon River.”

Participants will work in small groups to weed around native plants, giving the trees room to grow and providing clearing areas that are essential for their survival.

Each group will have a team leader who will throw out conversation starters and teasers to help people get to know each other.

“We do our best to make it a friendly and social atmosphere for everyone, and we found it worked really well for people to have something worthwhile to do while they chat away,” says Mr Fairbairn.

“Even if they don’t make a friend or a close connection, they’ll still be leaving after having a positive impact on the environment and even learning some new skills.”

This year, Christchurch City Libraries will be joining the party and bringing along their adult-sized games and mobile library.

Relax around the river corridor and support the environment before celebrating your efforts with kai (food) at a picnic.

The spade-dating 2024 event will take place at Cedarwood Reserve from 5:45pm on Valentine’s Day, 14 February.

Spade-daters are advised to wear sturdy shoes and dress for the weather, gloves and tools will be provided. This is an R18 event and places are limited with registrations required, and a $5 koha welcomed.