Jobs at DOC: Donald Herron, Visitor Centre Ranger

Department of Conservation —  18/12/2015

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Donald Herron, Visitor Centre Ranger in Wellington.

At work…

Some things I do in my job include:

I offer advice to locals and visitors heading into the backcountry, this includes checking the weather, talking to them about what to expect, taking bookings for Great Walks and front country huts, and sometimes arranging transport. I also answer numerous phone calls and emails; As Wellington is centrally located this can be anywhere in the country. I give directions to all manner of different locations. Notably, the nearest public loo, the mall and the Cable Car. No two questions are ever the same, and in case you are wondering, you don’t need to change currencies to visit the South Island.

Don Herron and partner on Mount Holdsworth.

Mount Holdsworth, Tararua Forest Park—the best place to go tramping in the whole world!

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Getting folks into the greatest living space on Earth!

The best bit about my job is:

Talking to New Zealanders and people from all over the world about our wonderful country. It’s fantastic to tell someone about a Great Walk, a National Park, or many other incredible places we have, including all out weird and wonderful creatures that live there.

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

It would have to be heading into the Rimutaka Forest Park with Peter Cooper a volunteer from the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust and local DOC ranger Daryl Stephens to locate ‘Whero’ a North Island brown kiwi who had two chicks with him. I got to hold him while Peter and Daryl gave the chicks a quick health check and put some transmitters on them.

It was an amazing experience to have this creature in my arms, his smell, his feathers, his beak, eyes, feet and sharp claws. A truly unforgettable experience and it makes me proud to live in New Zealand.

Don Herron holding Whero the North Island brown kiwi.

Awesome Whero!

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

Daryl Stephens, he’s my best friend and (most importantly) he laughs at all my completely appropriate jokes.

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that:

I am currently the President of the Hutt Valley Tramping Club. Which keeps me very busy. Much to Erica’s (my wife) dismay.

Don Herron tramping to Kime Hut in Tararua Forest Park.

Lunch is over there! On the way to Kime Hut in Tararua Forest Park

My happy place is:

Not sitting down (except on my bike), basically anything to do with biking, I love bikes!

My best ever holiday was:

Hiking to Everest base camp in 2008 with five friends from the Hutt Valley Tramping  Club. Nepal is a simply amazing country; scenery is outrageously gorgeous with incredibly friendly and humble people (when they are not trying to sell you something you don’t want).

Don Herron in Nepal.

It’s Nepal

In my spare time I love to:

Ride my bike, go for walks, watch Breaking Bad, listen to music, read, nap, garden, eat and clean (weird I know, however I find it strangely therapeutic).

Don Herron biking the Bridge to Nowhere.

Biking the Bridge to Nowhere

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be:

A kākā, they are loud, cheeky, and inquisitive. The complete opposite of me.

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. It’s either an old Scandinavian or Norwegian saying.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:

Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Don Herron's wife enjoying the view in Mount Aspiring National Park.

My wife Erica enjoying the view in Mount Aspiring National Park

In work and life I am motivated by:

Helping others and getting people to enjoy our wonderful outdoors.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Get out there and explore, by simply visiting a place you are making a difference and be sure to tell someone about it!

One response to Jobs at DOC: Donald Herron, Visitor Centre Ranger


    Great read Donald. Your passion for the people, places and wildlife shines through. I did this exact job with DOC years ago – your experiences & Tararua/Rimutaka pics bring back fond memories. Keep up the good work!