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A banded rail recently found dazed and confused in the Coromandel has been released back to its home after being cared for by a retired vet nurse from the Kuaotunu Bird Rescue Trust.

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By Rebecca (Becs) Gibson, DOC Community Relations Ranger, Great Barrier Island

Walking festivals are becoming increasingly popular, so it was no surprise that the recent inaugural Great Barrier Island Walking Festival was a great success.

The walking group heading to Whangapoua beach.

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the beach we go. Wild and windy Whangapoua

As this was our first walking festival, and due to our remoteness, we decided to start small and limit numbers. Despite this, people came from all over: New Caledonia, Australia, Te Wai Pounamu and, of course, Raetihi 🙂

Eight walks were offered over the three day weekend, ranging from full day tramps to shorter learning expeditions.

Walkers enjoy the view from Hirakimata Mt Hobson.

Walkers enjoy the view from Hirakimata Mt Hobson on the Over the Top walk

Hosts were allocated for each walk, and accompanying the groups were subject experts and ambassadors, including local iwi representatives, Auckland Council and DOC staff, café owners, fire fighters, ecology professors and historians, who all volunteered their time to give the visiting walkers an experience ‘one step beyond’.

A banded rail.

Unique wildlife encountered, banded rail

Aotea Great Barrier Island is an oasis for travellers; a replenishing place and a site that reflects human history as old as the name Aotearoa itself.

Walking group looks at rata species in  Windy Canyon.

Subject expert, Simon Cook, describes the unique rata species in
Windy Canyon

One walker said that the Great Barrier Island Walking Festival ‘has been a real eye-opener’ and that was on day one – we were just getting started!

The richness of the experience, the wonderful scenery and unique wildlife had many expressing they would be coming back for more.

The view from the top of Great Barrier Island.

Great Barrier Island walks – ‘one step beyond’

Great Barrier Island Walking Festival

The Great Barrier Island Walking Festival was funded by Auckland Council’s Local Board with DOC assistance.

The Great Barrier Island Walking Festival is a three-day walking experience that will leave you wanting to come back for more. Walk through spectacular scenery, learn about the local mining and whaling history, walk with subject experts and take away wonderful memories. For more information visit the Great Barrier Walking Festival website.