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Published: 2003-12-12 00:00:00

Te Awamutu abseilers will climb down the Karapiro Dam for the first time next week to ‘test the waters’ for a mass assault by amateur abseilers in March.

The dam will be a challenge venue for 20 teams of four participating in Environment Waikato’s Great E-scape, a two-day environmental adventure through the Waikato which launches next year’s Festival of the Environment from March 12 to 21.

Thursday’s test abseil by Te Awamutu’s CastleRock Adventure company is the first time the dam has been scaled for an event, and the professional abseilers will be looking for any ‘pitfalls’ for the amateur adventurers.

The 20 teams will compete for prizes while going through a series of challenges from Taupo to Hamilton. So far, more than 30 teams of four from throughout the Region have registered to be selected in the final 20 for the E-scape adventure - an action-packed Fear Factor/Amazing Race/Survivor combination.

The race begins in Taupo with rafting into Lake Taupo to pick up “something nasty” and includes kayaking, wood sorting, orienteering to find evidence of pest activity, a 300 m flying fox, mountain biking and human snakes-and-ladders with an environmental twist to end the quest at Hamilton.

The Festival is co-ordinated by Environment Waikato and involves Franklin, Hamilton City, Waipa, South Waikato and Taupo councils organising their own activities. Events throughout the 10-day festival will include the extremely popular Trash to Fashion Show and Waste 2 Art competition.

Coinciding with the E-scape abseil challenge during next year’s Festival, the Karapiro Power Station will be open to the public. This is an opportunity to find out how Mighty River Power generates electricity from the Waikato River.

Hamilton City Council will give people the opportunity to learn more about the Waikato River from a tyre inner tube.

Waikato teachers and students will be invited to attend the Environmental Education Expo. This inaugural expo will showcase the tools that are available to make teaching and learning about the environment easy and exciting.