Jobs at DOC: Kristina Mottlova, Visitor Centre Ranger

Department of Conservation —  17/06/2016

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 Kristina Mottlova, Visitor Centre Ranger at Franz Josef.

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

I’ve worked at DOC Visitor Centre for nearly nine years. Mostly at Franz Josef (Westland Tai Poutini National Park) and one year at Punakaiki (Paparoa National Park).  A big part of my role is about looking after people in various ways. Providing information related to our area and having ‘the people-understanding approach’ to fit each individual/family to the right walk, activity or a scenic view, to get them excited about this place and keep them safe in this ever-changing environment. It can be sometimes challenging, sometimes frustrating but always rewarding, when you see people enjoying themselves and learning to appreciate  this dynamic landscape with its mountains, glaciers, rivers, rainforest and all within.

Working at our new Visitor Centre at Franz Josef.

Working at our new Visitor Centre at Franz Josef

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Healthy Parks Healthy People – this vision really appeals to me. If we don’t look after our environment our health, body and soul will be struggling. When talking to visitors I always try to make them aware of the place they are visiting, how special and fragile it is, that they should feel privileged having the opportunity to see our disappearing glaciers as well as our endangered  species, like our local kiwi species, the rowi. We hope when people learn to appreciate nature, they will look after it better.

The best bit about my job:

Well, being paid to be an advocate of this special place, share it with our visitors and sometimes go out and explore it in my tramping boots!

On a walk to see the Franz Josef Glacier.

On a walk to see the Franz Josef Glacier

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

Several times I’ve had an amazing opportunity to go with our bio team to monitor kiwi in the local Okarito sanctuary. Once I went on Motuara Island (a pest predator-free island in the Marlborough Sounds) to check on the young kiwi living there. That was absolutely amazing experience – the bird life there was incredible!

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires me most is:

I cannot think of only one colleague, but there have been a lot of them who inspire me everyday. The typical DOC ranger with her/his “I can do it” attitude, bush-bashing through the forest to get muddy and scratched ‘just’ to collect a kiwi egg and bring it to a safe hatching place, or scrub-cutting and chainsawing for several days in the backcountry without proper meal and comfortable bed, ‘just’ to make the track more enjoyable and safe for the adventure-seekers. These are the guys that really inspire me! They are really tough boys and girls too!

On a personal note…

My happy place is:

Either somewhere at a remote backcountry hut or in my garden.

Kristina on the wild West Coast.

Our wild West Coast

The thing I’m most looking forward to in the next 6 months is:

Going home to visit my family and friends back at my home country (Czech Republic) and enjoying a good European food and Czech beer!

My secret indulgence is:

A homemade basil pesto. I can’t live without it! It took me several summers to figure out how to grow enough basil plants in the one of the rainiest places of New Zealand. But I’ve managed that! Now I can have pesto everyday, even during winter!

Homemade pesto sharing with friends.

Homemade pesto sharing with friends

My most prized possessions are:

A big ceramic 12 litre pot with a wooden stomper for compacting cabbage and fermenting it into sauerkraut. I like discovering old food preparation methods for many reasons. Often these ways are more environmentally friendly (less/or none electricity used) and quite healthy for us too. Great thing for sharing with friends!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde.

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

By my dad: “Always have a goal, small one for each day, a big one for a year/years.”

By my partner: “Take small steps, not big ones, they would tire you out much faster.” (That was when I went on my first backcountry track in New Zealand carrying  a huge heavy backpack with all my things for travelling for three months and I’ve never done a longer walk than half a day before! It was exhausting but I fell in love with tramping!)

Combination of these two bits of advice have helped me in accomplishing many small and some bigger personal goals.

Fun when stomping cabbage into a sauerkraut.

Fun when stomping cabbage into a sauerkraut

In work and life I am motivated by:

The opportunity to learn new things everyday. My work and place I live provide me with a never-boring environment with new challenges and discoveries.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Coming from another country it might not be appropriate giving advice, but maybe because I came from quite polluted Europe, I can better appreciate the clean air and clear water here. For that reason I’d like to stress the importance of looking after our forests, rivers and own backyards. Please don’t take the nature for granted!