Sarah Mason writes about a memorable April visit to the island.
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
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
Dates for the Spring/Summer 2016 Working Weekends have now been confirmed. The target dates (weather permitting) are:
- 19/20 November (back-up dates 26/27 November) and
- 10/11 December (back-up dates 17/18 December)
For further details and to register your interest in either of these weekends, please phone Sandra Jones (09) 817 2788 or email [email protected] The deadline for enquiries is Friday 30 September.