By Les Judd
A window of two stunning winter days cleared the Whanganui Office recently as staff headed bush for some serious mahi.
The mahi included assisting engineers to assess structures along the popular Mountains to Sea cycle trail, clearing rubbish from hunting campsites, goat control, helipad maintenance, and giving the huts a winter spring clean.
Among the office evacuees were four keen wahine – Jazz Hessell, Adele Meyer, Rachael Abbott and Les Judd – fortunate to be tasked with the best job of all… demolition!
Armed with hand tools, fire lighters and safety gear, the wahine were dropped into a remote part of the Whanganui National Park to demolish two illegal huts, relics of Forest Service times.
Leaky, falling down, and full of rubbish, the huts were unsafe, unsightly and needed to be demolished.
After a toolbox meeting, each wahine grabbed her tool of choice and got stuck in to the demolition – a good way to keep warm as the winter sun slunk quickly away from the clearing.
With the two huts reduced to soggy firewood, it was time for a well earned dinner and yarn around the fire.
Thanks to the ongoing predator control in the Whanganui National Park, through the Kia Wharite Biodiversity Project, we were serenaded by an orchestra of kiwi calls right through the evening.
Combined with a breath-taking night sky it would have been easy to stay up all night; however the dying embers of the fire and the frost settling in the clearing had the wahine heading for the warmth of their sleeping bags.
Awakening to ice on sleeping bags and hats inside our tents left us in no doubt it would be a stunning day.
With warm drinks and porridge in our bellies we kept ourselves busy by removing the last traces of the huts, burying the ash and collecting the last of the rubbish to fly out.
As the helicopter lifted off we were treated to stunning views of snow-capped Mt Taranaki to the west and the trio of maunga of the Tongariro National Park to our east; a perfect reward for a job well done.