Raoul Island is one of the Kermadec Islands, about 1000km north-east of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean. DOC have a small team of staff and volunteers who live on the island in relative solitude. 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 volunteer Prue Fairbrass.
Not a cyclone??
Today I am going to tell you about our cyclone in June which, according to the weather office was NOT a cyclone, just a deep depression.
Well, it was so deep it has made a complete mess of everything here. Trees are down in every available and unavailable space – on tracks, sheds and roads.
Surveying the wreckage
The ‘bomb’ shed where the weather balloons are sent from is now an open air, roofless, door-less structure. The fire shed lost its roof and side and was tipped over, and the fuel shed is no more.
We were trapped in the hostel area with tree fall, some of which we have managed to clear, but it will take months to get it all back to normal. We have no way of getting off the island at present until Fishing Rock Road is cleared, which we are currently working on (not that I want to get off the island, as it’s a fab place here!).
Luckily the hostel itself is okay, although we lost two windows from the hospital. Leaves and branches are piled up all over the place so it is an effort to go anywhere, but each day things are a bit better.
Are we in the outback?
The saddest thing is the bush – much of what is still standing has gone brown with the wind and salt spray and whole areas look like Aussie – i.e. dried open bush which is fine in Australia but not here!
The vege gardens are decimated and I had just planted a whole lot of cauliflower etc. The lawns have gone yellow and look as if they have been sprayed with weed killer. Oh well, at least we were all okay.
The early settlers had several storms as well as rats and goats to contend with. It must have been devastating for them as all their food supplies would be wiped out. Arkwright’s (named after the TV series which I think was called ‘Open all Hours’) is our food store and was undamaged so we can eat ourselves happy!
Shutdowns and sun cards
About the meteorological side of things. The buildings here are owned by the Met Service and leased by DOC. We are contracted to do certain weather readings 365 days of the year and send up weather balloons.
This is done by the DOC staff only (as a volunteer I don’t have to do this.) We have a roster for those doing this and also for “shutdown” (which I do), which consists of turning off the computers and putting them in a warmed cupboard as it gets very moist here, turning off the Met Service computer and doing the ‘sun card’.
The sun card is a most fascinating piece. There is a structure with a big glass ball on top. Behind this ball is an area to put a piece of thick paper (the sun card) and each day the sun shines through this ball and burns the card. This is sent to the Met office whenever we can get mail to them which is probably about every six months. It is probably an out-of-date thing to do but I am no authority on this.
Every cloud has a silver lining
There was one good thing that came out of the storm – I had been eyeing up the oranges at the top of the tree (why is it the best ones are always at the top?) wondering how to get them down.
I have picked up nine fish bins of them since the storm with about 150 oranges per bin and the pukekos, ants and tuis are having a ball with the rest.
Raoul Island oranges are famous for their juiciness and taste. They don’t look that great but they taste marvelous. I am making a bucket a day into juice – yum.
Well, this is but one of many experiences I am having on Raoul Island. It is an amazing place and I am having a ball here.