Motunau Island is the only offshore predator free island in Canterbury. Community ranger Vanessa Mander tells us why ridding the island of boxthorn weeds is important for the sea birds survival.Continue Reading...
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By Wayne Beggs, Biodiversity Ranger in Akaroa.
We’re fortunate to have some passionate farmers, Mark Armstrong and Francis Helps, who love the local wildlife and who have been the driving force behind protecting the penguins on Banks Peninsula. They had grown up with penguins and were used to seeing them around and they became very concerned when numbers started to seriously decline in the nineties.
Mark and Francis didn’t muck around and bought their own predator traps to try and control the ferrets, stoats and feral cats that were decimating the local little blue and yellow-eyed penguin colonies.
Mark and Francis soon realised that they needed some help and sought support from the local DOC rangers. DOC ranger Robin Burleigh stepped in and added additional trap lines as well as assisting with monitoring the penguins.
Pōhatu is now home to the largest mainland little blue penguin colony (over 1200 pairs last count) in New Zealand and yellow-eyed penguin numbers are starting to creep back up.
A local vet, Susan Shannon, has volunteered her time to help with nest searching, mico-chipping penguin fledglings and providing emergency care for injured or sick penguins.
There are also two passionate volunteers, Thomas and Kristina, who really love penguins and put a lot of time and effort into caring for under weight, sick and injured penguins.
It’s thanks to the fantastic effort of all these people and organisations that the penguins on Banks Peninsula have a bright future.
Arthur’s Pass recently celebrated 150 years since the European opening of the route that linked the east coast to the gold fields in the west.
The official opening the new Arthur’s Pass Walking Track was one of the events that marked the occasion.
DOC Ranger Tom Williams, writes:
150 years ago today (or thereabouts), in a time when an ‘epic’ was just a part of everyday life, the Dobson brothers stumbled across a pass linking the east coast to the gold fields in the west. That pass was Arthur’s Pass.
Legend has it that Arthur’s Pass isn’t named after Arthur Dudley Dobson as such, but rather that someone remarked that Arthur’s pass was the most suitable pass for direct travel to the west.
The name stuck, and Arthur’s Pass became one of only two places in New Zealand to have an apostrophe! (The other is Hawke’s Bay.)
Celebrations of this feat of discovery occurred over the weekend and resulted in the population of the pass swelling by over 400%.
Festivities commenced on the Friday night with the unveiling of a bronze kea statue. As we unveiled the taonga, a member of the audience did a sterling haka, and a real kea flew over us.
Arthur’s Pass is one of the best places in New Zealand to see these amazing birds.
In typical Arthur’s Pass fashion, the main attraction—the official opening of the Arthur’s Pass walking track—was accompanied by clear skies and warm weather.
The creation of the new track, however, was no easy feat. DOC staff, and the contractors constructing the track, had to cope with the extremes of local weather.
So far the track has coped with many deluges of rain, gale force winds, blistering sun, a minus 17 degree frost, and a 2 metre snow dump!
For those travelling to other places through the Pass, the route travelled has changed significantly from what it was 150 years ago.
Back then the journey took a long time. Once the coach road was constructed (can you believe that they managed to build the road from east to west in one year!) the journey was reduced to four days. Today it is a pleasant two hours to Christchurch, or one hour to the West Coast.
Discover the heritage and fantastic scenery of the Arthur’s Pass walking track yourself. Further information and directions can be found on the DOC website.