Raoul Island Diaries: It’s changeover time

DOC on Raoul Island —  19/01/2011

Raoul Island is one of the Kermadec Islands, about 1,000km north-east of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean. DOC has a small team of rangers and volunteers who live on the island in relative solitude, doing research. Their main focus is controlling weeds on the island, maintaining infrastructure such as buildings, roads and tracks, and carrying out work for Met Service and GNS.

Since the island is so remote, we get these diary entries from the team and post them up on their behalf. Today’s diary is by Raoul Island Threats (Weeds) and Biodiversity Ranger, Sian Potier.

Changeover week

Not many people get the opportunity to visit let alone live on Rangitahua (Raoul Island), the little subtropical treasure in the pacific. I have been lucky enough to return to this island which is again becoming home to a new team.

After 3 months training on the mainland we finally saw our first glimpse of Raoul Island from the vessel Braveheart at 5am on 25 October 2010. The drizzling weather did not dampen the mood after being welcomed around Hutchies Bluff by a pod of dolphins and a couple of whales breaching in the near distance.

New and old Raoul team in front of the hostel.

New and old Raoul team in front of the hostel

We had a busy changeover week with over 20 people on the island, including staff from GNS, Metservice, and DOC. During this week the previous team filled our brains with masses of valuable knowledge on how to run the island! We also managed to find time for countless volleyball matches, a tug of war competition and a memorable dress up party to send off the old team.

The week flew by, and the old team were given a typical Raoul Island salute send off. Then there were 8! It’s a strange feeling watching the boat leave, knowing the island is now in our hands.

On the airwaves

Two weeks later we had Braveheart return to the island bringing with them 14 ham radio enthusiasts from Germany, Poland and Greece.  So again the island was alive with people!

The “hammies” set up aerials all over the airstrip and spent 2 weeks on their radios attempting to contact as many people as possible all over the world. They had a successful trip, and even managed to find some time for a few guided walks and a great party at the end of their stay.

Down to work

Since the previous teams departure we have been busy getting our heads around all the tasks necessary to smoothly run a 3000 hectare island.  The weed programme is our main priority and is one of the key reasons we are here. We have all been introduced to the joys of weeding. We have been battling steep ground, scrambling through fern and finding weeds a plenty!  Scratched arms, legs and bruises are a good sign of a hard day’s work on Raoul Island.

Raoul team in front of crater lake.

Raoul team in front of crater lake

We also carry out contracts for Metservice and GNS.  A hydrogen filled weather balloon is released each day and water samples are taken from the crater lakes monthly.


When we are not working we keep ourselves busy with essential day to day jobs such as maintaining the vege gardens, mowing lawns, cooking and baking. We have had a few experimental successes in the kitchen making chilli sauces, kawakawa chutneys, orange wine and flavoured beers with our local produce.

There is also plenty of time for exploring the island, snorkelling, swimming, surfing and of course the occasional dress up party. The next few weeks on the island will be spent weeding, enjoying the festive season and making the most of our time on the remote island paradise we now call home!


Kermadec Islands

Raoul Island volunteer programme

DOC on Raoul Island


The Raoul Island diary is written by "Raoul Islanders" - DOC staff and volunteers living and working on Raoul Island in the Kermadec Island group. DOC staff include a team leader, mechanic and rangers. Up to 10 volunteers spend approximately 5 to 6 months on the island helping DOC staff get rid of weeds.