Hauturu Working Weekends


Our weekends are a happy mix of voluntary work (on Saturday) and walking, bird-watching, botanising, even swimming or fishing (on Sunday). They are a perfect opportunity for those who are seriously interested in the Island and wish to do some work towards its management, but simply don’t have the time to take part in the lengthier programmes on the Department of Conservation’s volunteer calendar.

We must point out that these weekends are not part of a DOC-funded programme, as such. They are arranged and led by trustees, and provide a rare opportunity to work and stay overnight on the island – in very good bunkhouse accommodation.

The main expense is the boat charter (leaving from Sandspit), plus incidentals and some DOC fees.

The management tasks we undertake for the rangers vary. They are always useful and practical, sometimes thrilling, but never dangerous. But please note that all participants need to be reasonably fit and agile and prepared to cope, if necessary, with a difficult wet landing over large, slippery boulders, and with a variety of tasks.

We usually go in spring and autumn when there is less pressure on the bunkhouse from weed-eradication and research teams.

Once enquiries have closed, all names are considered and groups finalized. There is a maximum of 10 for each weekend. If necessary, a ballot for places is held.

The Trust’s policy is, naturally, to give preference to financial supporters, but it also aims to introduce people who are new to the island and to the Trust.


Two working weekends are planned for autumn 2017.

The target dates (weather permitting) are:

  • March 18/19 (back-up dates March 25/26)
  • April 8/9 (back-up dates April 22/23)

All participants need to be reasonably fit and agile and prepared to cope, if necessary, with a wet and difficult landing over large and slippery boulders. We will do a variety of jobs for the rangers, plus there will be time for walking, bird-watching and botanising.

For further details and to request an application form for either of these weekends, please ring Sandra Jones, ph 09 817 2788, or email info@littlebarrierisland.org.nz

The closing date for application forms is Friday 3 February 2017

Sarah Mason

April 2016 Working Weekend Report

I had a dream to one day return to Little Barrier. Years ago, my family visited the Blanshard family, who were the resident rangers at the time. On that day the mooring conditions were perfect for Dad’s launch. Our family of six piled into the dinghy and negotiated the boulder landing; no quarantine then, or fancy ramps to transport the arrival craft over the boulders. The Blanshard children were experts at running over the boulders. We city kids had a lot to learn!

The island left a huge impression on me. Now, 50 years later, I had an opportunity to go back to the island on a working weekend with other like-minded enthusiasts. I noticed many changes: the very strict quarantine, excellent landing systems and the development of infrastructure to support what is now a very focused operation to care for Hauturu.

Even though we knew we were going to be in for something special, everyone was immediately awed by the magnificence of the trees and the chorus of many birds. The island rangers were very welcoming and outlined the first day’s tasks: weeding the tuatarium or cutting back the tracks. I opted for track cutting, which meant I could explore the island at the same time. When our afternoon’s work was completed a few of us went for a swim in the crystal-clear water, hardly needing a mask to see the snapper and curious moki. In the evening, we had a shared meal and I discovered that the barbecue area was where the living room of the Blanshard house had once been. A few brave souls went for a night walk to spot kiwi, but the heavens opened and sensibly the kiwis remained in their nests.

On Sunday morning we awoke to the most amazing dawn chorus: the mournful cry of the kokako, busy saddlebacks, robins, bellbirds, tuis, stitchbird, the penetrating call of the kaka and more… just fabulous. Sunday’s task was to retrieve the camp and electronic observing equipment used by the experts who had been monitoring a female kakapo and her nest. After a two-hour climb, boulderwalking, stream crossings and scrambling over rough tracks not used normally by volunteers we arrived at a remote camp concealed in the dense bush. It was challenging to say the least, but extremely rewarding; we all felt that we had been useful by carrying out the equipment that had made up the hi-tech observation post. Again we were privileged to hear incredible bird song, spend time in stunning bush and see tuatara in their natural habitat.

Our time on Hauturu came to an end quickly. New friendships had formed, knowledge had been enriched, and we all felt tremendously satisfied that we had been part of the dynamic Little Barrier team for 24 hours. I have huge admiration for the work that the rangers and their wives, DOC, supporting experts and the Hauturu Little Barrier Island Supporters Trust do to ensure that Hauturu is kept a perfect place for our native birds, flora and fauna. This is truly a treasure for New Zealand. Thank you, Lyn Wade, for making this weekend enlightening and memorable.

Hauturu is home to two giant invertebrates: New Zealand’s largest earthworm (up to 1.4 m) and the wetapunga, a giant weta which is found only on Hauturu. It is our heaviest recorded insect (max. 71g - the weight of an average blackbird). There was a 100% increase in numbers after kiore eradication.