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.


Working weekends are planned for Autumn 2018.

Due to the weed team being on the island there will only be ten participants in each group.

The target dates (weather permitting) are:

  • March 10/11 (back-up dates 24/25 March)
  • April 21/22 (back-up dates 28/29 April)

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 [email protected]

The closing date for applications is Friday 2 February 2018.

Mandy Herrick

April 17 Working Weekend Report

We touched down between cyclones – Debbie had just battered the country, leaving Edgecumbe homeless in her wake, and Cyclone Cook was due on Tuesday. During Debbie’s onslaught, the sky had been unfailingly grey, the clouds boiling and the rain a constant – so the unfamiliar patches of blue sky were keenly welcomed. As the sun shone brightly, we rode the rollicking sea and zig-zagged towards this steep island, clouds caught in its crown.

Bearded, warm, bare-footed and filled with epic tales of the sea, the skipper Piers expertly surfed the white-caps as he talked of his 50 years on the Hauraki Gulf. Flesh-footed shearwaters were corralled by wind and wave, wheeling around the boat, guiding us towards the fabled island. We arrived to birdsong. While we spun around relishing the fact that we would hear just this for two days, our thoughts spun back to a time when the birds ruled the place. I teased apart the birdsong: tui, robin, bellbird, whitehead, käkäriki and tieke. After inhaling slabs of warm banana cake prepared by Leigh, we clambered up Little Barrier’s forested side with a friendly entourage of robins and fantails at our side. One robin would regularly appear on the side of the track – watchful, and ever vigilant. On sighting it, I would scramble for my camera and hunt for focus. Time and time again, I would despairingly look at my camera screen to find a picture of an empty canvas – just a branch without a bird.

Fortunately the fantails weren’t so camera shy. One took the time to sing sweetly to me from a nearby branch, somewhat like a fairytale. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. After the walk, Richard, Leigh, Mahina and Liam kindly welcomed us into their home for a barbeque. And as we ate great platefuls of sausages and steak, the kökako eyed us from the branches as they scoffed green leaves and berries. During the meal, we heard the shrieking call of the kiwi. It seemed so tantalisingly close; we tiptoed into the night with the great hope that we might spot this biological curiosity with the help of Richard’s watchful eyes, though that night they remained elusive. It was the ruru that was on show, its feathered flight so quiet it darted past us barely noticed. Ruru-sensing Richard was onto it though. He spotlighted it on a harakeke stalk. It stared at us, we stared back.

At daybreak, the forest seemed full-to-bursting with birds; they loped around the lawn, pecked at the grass and sang high in the treetops. Richard set us a task that involved throwing down the walls of the tuatarium, in what he called a ‘reverse release’. Emotionless, statue-like and unblinking, a couple of the tuatara watched as we dismantled their home in record breaking time.

We swung hammers, ripped open walls, sawed off nails and then broke down the unusable materials into a bag. Nearly all of us are desk-jockeys in our day jobs, so it was a great chance to put our unused slabs of muscle to good use. Body-tired, our ears ringing with birdsong and our memory-banks filled with wonderful tales of the island, we reluctantly boarded the boat back to the mainland. Now we can look at the island and think of the tuatara making their homes high in the bush, the long-legged kökako springing about on the lawn and fondly remember the cake, the yarns and the fabulous times we shared in the delightful company of the Walle family.

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.