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Published: 2004-03-15 00:00:00

The Waikato’s Festival of the Environment got off to a flying start over the weekend with a two-day E-scape – an environmental adventure through the Region.

Environment Waikato organised the E-scape to launch the 2004 Festival of the Environment with support from Hamilton City, Waipa, South Waikato and Taupo councils. The Festival runs from March 12-21 throughout the Waikato Region.

The winning team was Clean Team of Ecolab, which won $1,500 cash and $600 of Earthwise product vouchers. The team – Don Short, Bryce Watkins, James McGruer and Bonnie Giles - had the use of a petrol/battery powered hybrid car for the event, loaned to them by Waikato Toyota.

Don Short said the event was “a fantastic experience which exceeded all our expectations”.

“Every event had some environmental aspect and we learned something from each of them. We’d all watched the Amazing Race and Fear Factor and this had something of both of those events. I especially enjoyed the abseil down the Karapiro Dam, but we also had to drink the amount of water used in a half flush of the toilet. We won’t forget that in a hurry.”

They nominated Finlay Park Camp to receive $1000 worth of native plants from the Taupo Native Plant Nursery.

Runners up were the Waihi Goldfingers, and the “E-scape Hero” – the person who was described as the outstanding positive participant – was Linda Retemeyer from the New Zealand Police Team, who won a tent from Expedition.

Twenty teams were selected from across the Region to complete physical challenges, collect environmental samples and answer quizzes. Events Co-ordinator Kim Macrae-Jonson says the event was designed to be fun as well as help participants learn more about the Region's environment and discover what they could do to make a difference. Challenges including loo-racing in Taupo, sorting wood in Tokoroa, abseiling the Karapiro Dam, trekking Mt Maungautari, a flying fox and clearing weeds at Owairaka Valley.

The teams finished their adventure with a human snakes-and-ladders game in Hamilton's Centre Place.

Spot prizes were donated by EXpedition, Gravity Hill, The Boatshed Cafe and Kayaks, Phoenix Organic, Huka Jet and Canoe and Kayak.

Other events throughout the week include twilight zoo safaris, special zoo days for people with disabilities, home schoolers and senior citizens, tramps, gully explorations and flax weaving lessons, an environmental education expo, vintage bike ride at Te Pahu, guided tree tour, night bush walks and river trips – including a trip on inner tubes.

Highlights include the annual Waste 2 Art Exhibition and Trash to Fashion Show. An environmental youth conference is being held for year 12 and 13 students.

A diary of all events is available from Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council and on the web - www.explorefestival.co.nz.

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.