Their research will fill gaps in knowledge about the mice and effects of their removal on some of the island’s special native species, in particular the two parakeets—Antipodes and Reischek’s parakeet—which are found nowhere else. They will also gather baseline data to chart ecosystem recovery once mice are gone.
You can help the unique ecosystems, native seabirds, plants and insects of the Antipodes Islands
The Million Dollar Mouse campaign aims to raise more than a million dollars towards the Antipodes Islands mouse eradication project. The fund currently sits at $819,000 with all public contributions matched dollar for dollar by philanthropists Gareth and Jo Morgan.
Air New Zealand came on board to help fly the parakeets from Christchurch to Rotorua where a helicopter piloted by Glenn Olliff from Oceana Helicopters Ltd, Tauranga then took the orange-fronted parakeets directly to Tuhua where they were released by Tauranga sponsor Fauna Recovery New Zealand.
John Heaphy, Conservation Officer Protected Species and Islands Tauranga Area Office, releasing the birds
The birds were all caught by 11am at Peacock Springs and all safely placed into their travelling boxes. Their flight left Christchurch Airport at 12.30pm, and on arrival at Rotorua VIP treatment from Air New Zealand whisked them direct to the waiting helicopter; a big thanks to Air New Zealand for the great treatment afforded to these critically endangered parakeets.
The helicopter left Rotorua and the parakeets were released onto the island by 3.30pm, in very sunny and hot conditions. They were released near the Green Lake in the caldera (Tuhua is a volcano) and all flew off fine. They were released in the same area as all other previous releases.
An orange-fronted parakeet on Tuhua from a previous translocation
A grateful thanks must go to all those who helped with another successful transfer of orange-fronted parakeet completed. 83 orange-fronted parakeets have now been released onto Tuhua, over 8 releases since December 2009.
Raoul Island is one of the Kermadec Islands, about 1000km north-east of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean. DOC have a small team of staff and volunteers who live on the island in relative solitude, doing research and maintaining the native species on the island.
Since the island is so remote, we get these diary entries from the team and post them up on their behalf. Today’s diary is by ranger, Brooke Connolly, who has dreamt of being on Raoul Island since university.
Getting to Raoul
After our extensive training and preparation for our stay on Raoul Island we were finally at the Devonport naval base ready to board the HZMS Canterbury.
Our cabin was small and cozy and our voyage was rather rough for such a large ship. We were looked after extremely well by the navy, fed like kings and had guided tours of the engine rooms and up to the part where they steer the boat. I woke up at 6 am on the morning of the 3rd of November; we were due to be at Raoul at 6.30 am. I remember rushing to the flight deck and seeing the island blanketed in cloud for the first time, my dream had finally come true.
Getting onto the island from the navy ship was very fast and bumpy, much like a ride at an amusement park. I was second to set foot on fishing rock to a warm welcome from the current team. Finally; I was on Raoul Island, my home for the next year. I almost cried I was so happy!
The change-over period flew past, receiving and unloading all the supplies from the Sea-sprite helicopter, feeding the mass of 40 people as they worked hard to complete their assigned tasks and creating a new era using solar energy (instead of diesel) on Raoul.
The main task for our team of seven people staying on the island was learning how to run and weed the island. During the change-over period we learnt to grid search the bush for weeds. We also had the opportunity to boat to the nearby Meyer islands to do some tobacco weeding. What a privilege to be in such an untouched ecosystem. I cannot describe how amazing it was to see so many sea birds on one rock. The call of the Kermadec petrel was like nothing else I’d ever heard before. Yyeeeeeeeooooowwwww waaahhooo waaahhooo waaahhooo waaahhooo.
Everybody on the island has also been blown away by all the humpback whales up here. Daily we see full breaches, tail slaps and general mulling around the island.
The island routine
When the boat left, the island was comfortably yet strangely quiet. We were sad to see everybody leave, but at the same time we were all ready to start our own adventure.
We began by giving everything a big spring clean and organising all our food. We are now settling into a routine on the island. We cook together at night time which is somewhat difficult; we have to modify each meal to be meaty, vegetarian and gluten free. All our meals have been great so far and the variety of food is great!
White tern egg
The plants on Raoul
I love plants! The differences and similarities of the plants on Raoul compared to mainland New Zealand is fascinating to see, as are the plants that are endemic to Raoul, or only occur on some Pacific Islands.
We have been teaching our volunteers about the native plants and the weeds on the island and they are learning to tell the difference very fast and are enjoying spending the day out in the bush.
Weeding has been exciting so far. We have been finding some weeds, which has been good to make sure we are searching for the right ones because the seedlings can be tricky to tell apart. We have also been finding a lot of the native cucumber, Sicyos. It has large prickles and they end up in you!! They are not particularly nice when they get in your ears, or anywhere else on your body for that matter! Some of the weed plot names are very deceptive, Low flat plot 8 is not very low or flat like it suggests, it is very high and steep and full of fallen trees, large bluffs and slips.
The birds on Raoul
I also love birds! The tui have a rather different call up here on Raoul, and the kākāriki graze on the lawn like sheep, they also graze on my corn seedlings. Grrr.
Black-winged petrels fly over the hostel at dusk. My favourite so far are the white terns at Boat Cove. They fly in pairs or groups on wind draughts up and down cliffs and valleys. They nest in trees, which like the Noddy on the Meyer Islands or other sea birds on the main island, isn’t all that uncommon. But what is rather strange is that these birds lay their green blotchy egg on a flat bit of a pohutukawa branch. It is the most uncanny thing I have ever seen, but also the most awesome.
A noddy (seabird from the tern family)
I can truly say coming to Raoul Island is both the biggest opportunity I have ever had and the best decision I have ever made.