Workshops, field trips and events

Below are descriptions of the available Workshops, Field Trips, Special Interest Groups and events.

Note: Registration for all listed Workshops, Field Trips and Events will be handled with  

Lack of sufficient registration for workshops or field trips may necessitate cancellation with a full refund - Deadline for Workshop or Fieldtrip cancellation Friday August 10th.



Training workshop in auditing and cleaning of biodiversity data

Participants in this workshop will get hands-on training in how to audit collection and biodiversity data for duplicate, broken and truncated records; internal data disagreements and missing data; and character encoding issues and incorrect or inconsistent formatting. Auditing will be done on the command line with text-processing tools that are simple, reliable, easy to use and highly efficient for very large datasets. Sample data will be provided by the trainer.

Technical Requirements:
This is a training workshop and participants will need power leads for their laptops

For more information and for prerequisites, please contact

Organisers:         Robert Mesibov, Session W01
Date/Time:         Sunday August 26, 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Location:            Otago University, Castle B
Cost:                   Free
Booking:             Please book via the registration system

Workshop in the Care of Historic Mammal Taxidermy

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) will present a one-day workshop focused on the preventive care and basic conservation treatment of historic mammal taxidermy for professionals who work with these collections, including conservators, collection managers, preventive care professionals, museum preparators, exhibition technicians, and taxidermists. 

This workshop was developed with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and was presented in 2017 at the annual meeting of SPNHC in Denver, Colorado. It will be led by natural science conservators from the AMNH, and will provide participants with a thorough working knowledge of the preservation needs of historic mammalian taxidermy and how to address common condition issues. In addition to this knowledge, participants will leave with conservation references, and samples of common treatment materials. The workshop format will incorporate a combination of presentations, demonstrations, interdisciplinary group discussions, and hands-on experimentation. Two pre-workshop webinars on background and safety information will be offered for registered participants.

Organisers:         Julia Sybalsky (AMNH)
Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, Full day
Location:              Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum
Cost:                      $150

NOTE: This workshop is subject to funding and numbers. Please indicate if you would like to attend the workshop by contacting

Workshop: Care & Conservation of Zoological Collections

Zoological collections house a huge range of biological diversity preserved in a wide variety of ways ranging from microscope mounts to whole animals preserved in fluids. The result is that these collections consist of a wide range of differing materials which can make the long term care and conservation of such collections a considerable challenge.  

This workshop is designed for museum professionals with the aim of giving an introductory overview on museum conservation approaches towards the care of zoological collections. This will be achieved through identifying the key risks and looking at the application of both remedial and preventative conservation methodologies to their care.

The format of the workshop will be lectures on specific topics with group discussions, along with (where feasible) activities in small groups and practical examinations of specimens. Topics covered will include:

  • Introduction to the concepts of ‘museum conservation’ and its application within the Natural Sciences.
  • The types of material found in zoological collections – an overview of the core collection types, the chemistry of preservation and the potential long term challenges these present.
  • An overview of the key agents of deterioration.
  • Environmental effects and how to recognise them.
  • Awareness of hazardous materials and core H&S issues encountered with the care and handling of zoological collections.
  • Assessing collections and deciding conservation priorities.
  • Fur, feathers and bones - practical conservation approaches to cleaning, consolidation and repair.
  • Fluid collections - practical conservation approaches to handling, identifying fluids and carrying out remedial activities.
  • Other key collection areas – e.g. conservation of entomology and other dried invertebrate collections; microscope slide collections.
  • Consideration of the care and conservation of specialist collections e.g. historic models such as Blaschka glass models.

Discussion and feedback from attendees will be a core part of the day.

Organisers:         Julian Carter, Principal Conservator Natural Sciences
Date/Time:         Sunday August 26, 9.00am, full day
Location:              Otago Museum
Cost:                      $50, Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

Workshop: Introduction to 3D Imaging Using Photogrammetry

This one day workshop will provide an introduction to 3D imaging using photogrammetry. The course is designed for museum professionals who are already familiar using digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, and want to extend their practice to 3D imaging. The workshop will be hand-on and cover lighting and image processing, imaging flat and contoured specimens, working at different scales, and metric photogrammetry using Agisoft Photoscan. The course will be led by a museum professional with five years of experience of using photogrammetry to image museum collections from bivalves and taxidermy to plaster casts and wharenui. Participants will be expected to bring a DSLR and a laptop computer to the workshop.

Organisers:         JP Brown, Field Museum
Date/Time:         Sunday August 26, 9.00am, full day
Location:             1877 Space, Otago Museum
Cost:                      $50, Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Booking:              Please book via the registration system. Places strictly limited

Workshop: Software Carpentry and Data Carpentries Instructor Training

With the support of the University of Otago, The Carpentries, iDigBio, and others in the biodiversity community, there will be a Carpentries instructor training workshop held before the TDWG and SPNHC meeting. Attendees at this workshop will learn evidence-based best-practices of teaching and skills for providing a positive environment for learners. Attendees can go on to become certified Carpentry instructors and go on to teach Data, Software, and Library Carpentry workshops at their home institutions. 

The Carpentries is an international organization of thousands of instructors dedicated supportive and inclusive teaching of technical subjects to scientists. By offering this instructor training at TDWG/SPNHC, we hope to strengthen the community of Carpentry workshop instructors in the biodiversity community. All of the supporters will continue to provide long-term mentoring and community building to support new instructors teach workshops on their own.

The instructor training will be held on August 23rd - 24th at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, NZ. We are asking participants to pay $1000 USD for this training. This $1,000 fee will be paid directly to The Carpentries to support their operations. The Carpentries as an organization works to support instructors, expand lessons and create opportunities for community members around the world. As a badged instructor, you'll join a global community of practice working to bring data skills to all research communities. We are offering fee waivers based on need and anyone interested in this training is encouraged to apply for one if the fee is a barrier to attendance. Specifically, the Carpentries are waiving the fee for participants from Low and Middle Income countries.

Spaces are limited. To apply for the workshop (no fee is due immediately), please fill in the below training request form. Be sure to put "TDWG-2018" in the group name field. If you are requesting a fee waiver, please add that to the "Anything Else?" field. We will review applications as they are received and we will notify applicants if they are accepted within a few days:

FIELD TRIPS - August 25-26, 2018


OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY - New Zealand’s native birds and bush

Orokonui kiwi

Travel by bus from the Otago Museum along Dunedin’s West Harbour for a 2 hour guided tour of Dunedin’s treasured Orokonui ecosanctuary. An amazing opportunity to see and hear many of New Zealand’s endemic bird species including kaka, kereru, tomtits, tui and more. Watch the endangered flightless takahē be fed. Learn about the challenges of introduced pests on New Zealand’s flora and fauna and see New Zealand’s tallest tree. The tour includes a delicious lunch made from locally sourced produced. Please note that numbers are limited to 30 people per day

Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, 9.15am – 1.30pm or Sunday August 26, 9.15am – 1.30pm
Location:              Pick up and return by bus, meet at Otago Museum foyer
Cost:                      NZ$90 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

Monarch Cruises – Otago Peninsular Wildlife Tour


As you cruise the length of the Otago Harbour, our skipper will show you Careys Bay historic fishing village, Port Chalmers’ busy wharves and the harbour’s beautiful bays, hills, farmland and forest. You’ll learn about the harbour’s volcanic geology and its Māori and European history. Take in surrounding sights with a hot or cold beverage or snack from our fully licensed galley. Enjoy Monarc’s fascinating Wildlife Cruise around Taiaroa Head and the surrounding coastline of dramatic cliffs. We will offer uninterrupted views of the only mainland nesting place of Northern Royal Albatross in the world. Our skipper will expertly manoeuvre the vessel whilst you watch the NZ Fur seals play and swim near their breeding colonies, out at sea you can spot rarely seen ocean birds including other albatross species and petrels, and you may see penguins, dolphins and other marine mammals. Hear stories of sea creatures and early settlers as you bus along the scenic roads of the Otago Peninsula. Please note that numbers are limited to 50 people per trip

Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, 1.00pm – 5.00pm or Sunday August 26, 1.00pm – 5.00pm
Location:              This tour departs daily from 20 Fryatt St, Dunedin.
Cost:                      NZ$75 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

Biodiversity by Night


•    New Zealand night sky show in the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium
•    Transport to Natural history clubrooms - Leith Valley
•    Pizza dinner
•    Talks about New Zealand’s Nocturnal Nature
•    Night walk to see Dunedin’s urban glow worms and other night dwellers. 

Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, 5pm – 8.30pm
Location:              Meet at the Museum foyer. Transfers provided
Cost:                      NZ$45 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system


SHORT TOURS – August 25 – 30


Guided tours of the Otago Museum

Saturday August 25 and Sunday August 26.

Location:            Meet at Otago Museum foyer
Date/Time:         ‘Treasures of the Museum’, 11.00am and 2.00pm
                             ‘Stories of the South’, 1.00pm and 3.00pm
Cost:                     Included in Registration - $0. Please bring your conference lanyard
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

University Anatomy Museum - Short tour

Monday August 27 and Tuesday August 28
Location:              Meet at registration desk
Date/Time:         1.15 – 1.45, during the lunch break
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0
Booking:              Please sign up at the conference

University Geology Museum – Short tour

Monday August 27 and Tuesday August 28
Location:              Meet at registration desk
Date/Time:         1.15 – 1.45, during the lunch break
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0
Booking:              Please sign up at the conference


EVENTS – August 27 – 31


Welcome Reception
Monday, August 27, 2018
Location:              Otago Museum
Date/Time:         August 27 at 5.30pm - 7:00pm
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0 


Quiz Night

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Location:              Lone Star
Date/Time:         August 28 at 6.00 - 9.00pm
Cost:                      $25 per person plus drinks.
Booking:              Please book via the registration system. Numbers limited 


Emerging Professionals Luncheon

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Meet & network with other emerging natural history professionals at the 3rd annual SPNHC Emerging Professionals Luncheon. We welcome pre-career, early career, interest and/or "still not sure what I'm doing yet" persons. All TDWG folk most welcome.

Location:              Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum
Date/Time:         August 29, 12.30pm – 2.00pm
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0
Booking:              Please book via the registration system for catering purposes 

Sponsoring Partners Reception

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Location:              Otago Museum, Tūhura
Date/Time:         August 29 at 6.00pm - 7:00pm
Cost:                      Sponsored by Partners - $0
Booking:              Please book via the registration system for catering purposes

Our sponsoring partners will host a reception in Tūhura, the Otago Museum’s new science engagement centre.

Conference Dinner

Thursday, August 30, 2018
Location:              Otago Business School
Date/Time:         August 30 at 6.30pm - 10:00pm
Cost:                      NZ$ 120 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system  


Farewell Friday

Friday, August 31, 2018
Location:              University Staff Club 
Date/Time:         August 31 at 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Cost:                      NZ$ 12 per person plus cash bar
Booking:              Please book via the registration system