By Anna McKnight, DOC Partnership Ranger
Twelve year old Dylan Bagley came to Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary, near Lake Taupō, to practice his golf swings after school, and ended up helping to release a baby kiwi.
Ten kiwi chicks will be released within the predator proof fenced golf course over the spring and summer months.
Dylan and his family were in the right place at the right time to get a kiwi experience of a lifetime—helping the Department of Conservation kiwi team release a chick into the forest.
Dylan couldn’t wait to go to school the next day and say, “You’ll never guess what I did at golf last night?!”
The Tongariro chick was named ‘Georgie’ as she hatched on the date of Prince George’s christening.
DOC are using the private sanctuary as a local opportunity to crèche baby kiwi chicks.
“Partnering with DOC has allowed us to contribute to the conservation of one of New Zealand’s endangered species and broadens the experience of our golfers,” says Nigel Lloyd, Wairakei Golf course manager.
The use of the local sanctuary has many advantages for the Tongariro Kiwi Team, not only reducing travel time for rangers and volunteers, but also experiencing the novelty of transporting kiwi in golf carts!
BNZ Operation Nest Egg (ONE) enables DOC to take kiwi eggs from the local Tongariro Forest, one of five national sanctuaries for kiwi.
The eggs are hatched at Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter and reared to about 400 grams. The chicks then stay at Wairakei until they weigh about 1 kilogram, big enough to fight off stoats, giving them a higher chance of survival for their release back into the wild.
While young Dylan has a promising future in golf with a handicap of 12, Georgie is lowering her handicap without having to play against stoats. It would also be fair to say that Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary are playing above par for conservation with this birdie!