By Raoul Island Ranger Louise Mack
It is crazy to think that the Scottish pirates from the RV Braveheart—parading themselves as GNS workers and boat crew—were our first contact with people, outside our small team, in four months!
The scientists and divers from GNS were up here fixing their tsunami reader and checking over their gear on the island.
The trip was combined with a research expedition with Dr Tom Trnski, from Auckland Museum, and Steve Hathaway, an underwater videographer. Check out the blog of their trip, it has some amazing footage from the Kermadec Islands.
In preparation for our guests, we slogged away getting everything just right. Lawns were mowed, wood cut for the BBQ, the Ranch cleaned and sparkling. All was set. Now we just had to wait.
A bit of a dampener
I don’t know if other ex-Raoulies got this feeling while they were up here, but every now and then I get the vibe that the island enjoys tormenting us. True to form, a few days before the arrival of our guests, the rain begins. Torrential. Non-stop. Rain. 102.5 mm over two days. Everything was wet. Everything was muddy. Good times.
Then, just for a bit of extra excitement, a water main to the house breaks. Figuring losing one tank of water was child’s play, we opted to drain them both. That’s 60,000 litres of water seeping into the ground.
Now, if this had happened two days earlier, finding the leak would have been easy—the wet spot would’ve been obvious in the dry. Unfortunately, the entire island was a wet spot—it also has very permeable and quick draining soil. This meant the job continued on over many hours (days)—digging in mud. In the rain. Always with the rain.
Let me tell you, water out of a tap is a luxury! I will never again take that for granted. Using buckets from the fire reservoir for flushing toilets and hiking up the hill to fill containers for drinking was not fun.
So, wet muddy clothes we had been wearing for a week and no showers was how we greeted our visitors to the island. I am not 100% sure, but it may have been the sight and smell of us that made them only stay ashore one night and then flee back to the comforts of their ship.
All good though! The island did a complete turn around and the day they came ashore was sunny and perfect.
A lot of merriment and cups of tea were had by all and it was a great visit by a nice bunch of people.
A couple of camping trips
It is not all work work work however, despite what it may sound like. Boss man Neil does occasionally let us off the leash and allow us a few hours of free time for exploring.
Labour Weekend at Sunshine Camp was the setting for an adventure for Ross, Jenny and myself.
Looking back now it feels like a Tui ad waiting to happen and I can actually laugh at the irony. A weekend camping + a place called Sunshine + Labour Weekend in New Zealand = non stop rainy good times.
Actually I shouldn’t complain. We left home in brilliant sunshine and had it beaming down on us while we staggered there with full packs. It only started to cloud over as we arrived. And, even then, the rain held off until we were tucked up in our tents.
The plan for a second night quickly changed to a wet muddy slog back to the Ranch though. I cannot deny it, I am a fair weather camper.
There are so many places to go and things to see here. The humpbacks had gone, but their departure coincided with the arrival of a seabird bonanza. Amazing birds and strange noises became the norm—it’s like a whole new channel on Raoul TV.
Tam and I spent a night camping out on Hutchies Bluff a few weeks ago and got to experience a pod of dolphins cruising past, with one of the humpback stragglers and her wee calf. The sun was setting directly in front of us, there were seabirds galore, and a full moon rising behind us. It was one of those moments when you pinch yourself and think, ‘wait this is my job?’!
Under the sea
Snorkelling here is epic. The water is so clear, visibility is amazing, and the fish!
Schools of kahawai follow you around, tiny mimic blennies nibble your legs, mado, lion fish (definitely no touching those suckers), giant limpets the size of your hands, the noise of kina crunching away on the rocks.
Neil saw a kingi as big as himself (not a lot is as big as Captain Longshanks, so that is saying something). It is all a bit overwhelming really.
Last week I saw a turtle and had my first snorkel with the sharks experience. It was only a small one, but seriously, 1 metre looks massive underwater. Yes, I did use Tam as a human shield, but I stayed in the water! Big ups to me.
Tam, Neil and I decided that our first weekend, post pirate invasion, we should chill and have a relaxing visit to the Oneraki Beach Day Spa to recharge.
I really cannot think of a better way to round off a weekend than chilling in a hot tub, sipping on my home brew ginger beer with my Raoul family. The rates at the spa are fab, and the view immense.
Life is good. Home is beautiful.
Interested in becoming a volunteer on Raoul Island?
DOC is currently recruiting for volunteers for August 2014 to February 2015 now. See www.doc.govt.nz/raoulvolunteers for more information.