A day in the life of a DOC Camp Host on Great Barrier Island

Department of Conservation —  18/04/2016

Christine and Barry Stephenson share their experience volunteering as DOC camp hosts on Aotea/Great Barrier Island

We are welcomed into the new day by a symphony performed by the local residents. The orchestra is dominated by the Harataonga Bay kākā family, but we can also hear tūī, and kererū.

Christine and Barry Stephenson.

Christine and Barry Stephenson

Our first official duty of the day as DOC camp hosts is to tune in to our radio telephone and listen to the day’s weather report delivered by the ‘boss’ aka ‘Echo 1’ –  the camp manager for all of the DOC campsites on Great Barrier Island.

We also use this opportunity to exchange brief messages with our fellow hosts at the other camps, because aside from the morning’s brief radio session, we have no cell phone, broadband or any other modern technological means of communication – bliss!

Christine and Barry Stephenson.

Planning the day’s duties

Our next job is to do our housekeeping – we clean and polish the sinks and benches. We give the toilets a clean and make sure the toilet paper is stocked up.

The toughest part of our day comes next. We have to relax in a beautiful environment, go for bush and beach walks, hang out with dotterels, oyster catchers, banded rails, kākā (who provide continuous entertainment cavorting around the sky), tūī, and kererū and also welcome our new campers and day trippers to our lovely spot.

Picnic spot on Aotea/Great Barrier Island.

A good picnic spot!

One of the most interesting parts of our day is ‘shooting the breeze’ with our guests from all over New Zealand and the world. We hear their fabulous stories and exchange tips on where to go and what to do on the island.

View from the Harataonga Loop Track.

View from the Harataonga Loop Track

As night begins to fall, our regular evening visitors, pāteke/brown teal waddle around each tent, checking that we are all OK and gently cooing their ‘goodnights’.

Pāteke/brown teal.

Pāteke/brown teal


DOC is currently looking for volunteer camp hosts for the five Aotea/Great Barrier Island campsites during the peak holiday period. More information can be found on the DOC website.