By Daniel Deans, DOC Intern
Recently the summer interns at DOC had the opportunity to ditch the spreadsheets, stretch their legs and get out of the office for a two day excursion on Kapiti Island.
Every summer, DOC takes on a small group of interns to work in various roles. This year saw the largest contingent of interns that DOC has ever dared to take on at once, with a group of 11 wannabes working for three months in DOC’s National Office.
Having had enough of us after two months, our managers sent us across the sea on an unseasonably stormy day to spend two days volunteering on Kapiti Island. Home to one of New Zealand’s treasured native bird sanctuaries, we were to spend two days working with local ranger Gen on various island maintenance tasks – getting the hands on work we’d been craving after weeks behind a keyboard.
The first day involved an invigorating walk to the summit of the island (a surprisingly high 521 metres), where we were greeted with a stunning sight of fog and rain, as well as the occasional weka attempting to steal our lunches.
The journey back down the hill was no less invigorating, having been tasked the glamorous job of clearing drains.
With mechanised street sweepers unsuited to a steep gravel track, clearing the drains involved shovelling dirt and leaves with your boot heel, and bending down to scoop it all up with your hands.
Needless to say the group arrived back to the accommodation rather damp, muddy and exhausted, but entirely satisfied with some good physically demanding labour (who needs a gym when you can do squats clearing drains?). While some retreated to the hot showers, the more adventurous among us thought that the howling wind and rain was the perfect weather for a swim. The sanity of these individuals is now missing somewhere off the coast of Paraparaumu.
During the evening (after several increasingly ridiculous games of Articulate), we were treated to a kiwi spotting tour with Gen the Ranger. While ‘spotting’ is perhaps a bit of an optimistic term in retrospect, we did hear the calls of several kiwi in close vicinity, as well as stumbling on giant weta and other wildlife.
The dawn of day two saw Juliet and team leader Shannan up at a ridiculous hour – running to the top of the island to catch the dawn chorus. The rest of us dragged ourselves out of bed to have breakfast with the cheeky kaka, who were entirely unfazed by the human invaders to their home.
With the sight of the well needed sun, we set out on the morning mission – weeding the tracks. As it turns out, Kapiti Island is quite the ideal working location, with the crew being treated to the melodic sounds of the native bird population as we laboured. Along the way the ever-knowledgeable Ranger Gen pointed out each bird’s specific call, and succeeded in selling the job of Kapiti Island ranger as a very tempting career move.
But unfortunately the trip had to end. With soggy socks and heavy hearts we boarded our boat back to the mainland, having had a fantastic taster into life ‘on the ground’ as part of DOC – an invaluable experience for all of us!