Celebrating Conservation in Coastal Otago

Department of Conservation —  07/09/2021

Not saying we are biased but we have some awesome things to celebrate this Conservation Week in Coastal Otago. We are lucky to live in a place with accessible nature spots right in our backyards and some community conservation champions who put in great mahi to keep our special place thriving.

Volunteers and DOC rangers on a weeding project.
📷: Catherine Lea (DOC)

I’m sure many of you have been out for walks in your local neighborhood over the past few weeks. In Coastal Otago we are lucky to have a beautiful and varied landscape to admire, and many of our special places would not be what they are without the hard work and passion from our local community groups.

In Coastal Otago we have 11 community groups undertaking all types of activities suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities from track maintenance, weed control, predator control and planting!

“Even though work may be on pause for the moment, the team at DOC Coastal Otago want to take the time this week to celebrate some of our conservation heroes, as well as brag about some of our unique and special places” – Emma Salmon, Community Ranger.

Check out some of the highlights from our community conservation heroes below:

Green Hut Track group.

The Silver Peaks Range lies right at Dunedin’s back door; between the Taieri River to the west and Blueskin Bay and Waitati in the east. The Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve and adjoining areas provide day walks and challenging backcountry tramping. The Green Hut Track Group have been working with the Department of Conservation, as well as the Dunedin City Council, for over 20 years. The group are named after the iconic Green Hut which used to be in the Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve where the group first started their track maintenance activities. Meet this friendly bunch on Wednesdays in town before heading out into the bush to clear and maintain walking and hiking tracks throughout the Silver Peaks and Silver Stream areas.

If you’re keen to help out, contact: Graeme Elliot – ellio@xtra.co.nz.

📷: Moturātā Taieri Whānau

The Taieri River is New Zealand’s fourth largest river, and Taieri Mouth is nestled on the Otago coast with the Taieri River estuary sweeping through a bush clad valley to meet the bright white sand at this lovely seaside fishing village. There are wonderful walking tracks, and picnic areas nearby like John Bull Gully and the Millennium Walkway. Moturātā, also called Taieri Island, is an island in the mouth and connected to the mainland by a sandy causeway at low tide. The island is a nature reserve, and is home to many protected seabirds, notably yellow-eyed penguins.

Volunteering their time for over 30 years now, the Moturātā Taieri Whānau are working to help bring Southern Rata, the “Red Beacon”, back to Moturātā Island. The group have two community predator trapping projects, one in podocarp forest and shrubland and another in rātā forest both near to Taieri Mouth. If you are interested in taking part, contact Robyn Ashton –duckbendcreek@xtra.co.nz

Volunteers help with the autumn bird count on Quarantine Island.

Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua is the largest island in Otago Harbour, close to the city of Dunedin, New Zealand. The island covers an area of 15 hectares (37 acres), and is a publicly accessible recreation reserve.  Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community Inc. charity helps care for the Island, protecting and enhancing its ecology and heritage, its simplicity and peacefulness in partnership with the Department of Conservation. The QI/KT Community own and manage the buildings, initiate and progress a range of restoration projects, and have the pleasure of welcoming thousands of visitors each year from the wider community to visit and to get involved. They are planting and caring for seedlings, controlling weeds, monitoring and trapping predators, and also perform seasonal survey’s of birds and lizards each year. Definitely a place worth visiting if you ever come to Dunedin.

Keen to volunteer?

See the website quarantineisland.org.nz ‘Projects’ page for details or contact quarantineisland@gmail.com.

Dune plantings.
📷: Save The Otago Peninsula

The Otago Peninsula is located in eastern Dunedin with spectacular coastal views and walks. It is also the home to many endangered wildlife including the world’s only mainland albatross colony, and yellow-eyed penguins, The suburbs of Dunedin encroach onto the western end of the peninsula, and seven townships and communities lie along the harbourside shore. Save The Otago Peninsula (STOP) aim to protect and enhance the native biodiversity of the Otago peninsula through protecting and enhancing special habitats such as native bush remnants, wetlands and dunes. The group hold weekly working bees for people of all ages doing native planting and pest plant and animal control.

Contact: stopincsoc@gmail.com, or 027 8756 020 (text preferred)

📷: Emily Sterk, Hawksbury Lagoon

People living in the small town of Waikouaiti, East Otago, are lucky to be living right next to the Hawksbury Lagoon, which is a designated Wildlife Refuge under the Reserves Act 1977. Hawksbury Lagoon/Matainaka Society are a committee of Waikouaiti (East Otago) residents aiming to enhance, protect and restore the habitats of the wildlife and plant life within the environs of the lagoon, a nationally significant wildlife refuge. The group does lots of things from planting, clearing, monitoring wildlife and learning!

Keen to help out? Contact: Ruth Ferguson: risabelfe@gmail.com or http://www.hawksburylagoon.org.nz 

As you can see there are some amazing spots around Coastal Otago to enjoy. We hope you check out DOC’s website or your local council’s to find out what might be “within walking distance” in your local neighbourhood.

Even though this mahi is on hold at the moment if you are interested in joining any of the community groups or would like to find out more information, head to the Coastal Otago community group page, check out our volunteer page, or contact your local DOC Office. You can also subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter that lists not only the opportunities from Department of Conservation but also our partners and collaborators such as the Dunedin City Council, and other community groups. All around the country, the Department of Conservation offers volunteer opportunities catering to different ages, abilities, and interests. We would love to hear from you. 

In your backyard

Anyone can be a conservation hero this week. There are lots of ways to get involved with conservation from the comfort of your own home and in your own time:

  • Keep the children occupied and learning with Toyota Kiwi Guardians where they can earn super cool medals for the actions and adventures they go on! Staff favourites in Dunedin are the Coastal Wildlife Protector and Weta motel medals. Make sure you keep it local. There are lots of indoor activities for the kids to earn medals for too, like taking the kids conservation quiz!
  • Getting bored on your local walk? Try and take the time to notice and count all the different shades of green you can see. Each different green is probably a different type of plant. You might be surprised at how many different types of plants are surrounding you!

In Dunedin, there’s something for everyone with heaps of things to do, from joining us on DOC-led volunteer days, to helping your community groups in your local area or even only having to go as far as your own back yard! For more ideas visit: www.conservationweek.org.nz

One response to Celebrating Conservation in Coastal Otago


    Love to volunteer at some of these amazing places.