Fancy a spade date in the Port Hills on Valentine’s Day?

Organised by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ) and Christchurch City Council Parks staff, Christchurch’s inaugural spade-dating evening is being held from 5.45pm on Thursday, 14 February.

People can join fellow volunteers at a “romantic spot” on the Port Hills to help care for Arbor Day plantings, followed by a picnic while taking in the spectacular view over the Canterbury Plains.

Dig in for a fun night out on the Port Hills.

Dig in for a fun night out on the Port Hills.

The brainchild of CVNZ Regional Coordinator Hamish Fairbairn and Council Parks Visitor Experience Team member Sarah Mankelow, the spade-dating event aims to encourage conservation – along with closer community connections.

“We want to add a more creative and fun element to conservation events,” Mr Fairbairn says.

“It’s also an opportunity to boost numbers at our volunteer activities.

“We want to provide an opportunity for people to give back to the environment while learning new skills and meeting like-minded conservationists.”

For Ms Mankelow, the spade-date event is also a “treasure hunt”.

“It’s a real journey of discovery as we search through the long grass to find native plants that need to be cleared and given space to grow,” she says.

“We can really support the efforts of local schools that carry out annual tree planting for Arbor Day and help ensure that these valuable plants survive.

“We aim to increase awareness about the importance of clearing areas around native plants.

“We are also very much looking forward to making some new friends and fresh connections with people who share our love for the environment.

“We have planned several fun ice-breakers to get the conversation flowing so that people soon get to know each other before later enjoying a picnic.”

Would-be spade daters can first gather in the small car park at Victoria Park before being guided to the nearby “date” site.

“We suggest that you ‘dress to impress’ with sturdy shoes and suitable outdoor clothing,” Ms Mankelow says.

All tools and equipment will be provided.

Following the spade-date picnic, people can head to The Fermentist for a free refreshment.