Crystal is a Community Ranger in Te Anau and she visited Sky Lake to help the team track and monitor kiwi chicks. She shared her adventure with us.Continue Reading...
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Auckland children and their families jumped at the chance to participate and travel via ferry from the mainland to the island, with more than 150 newly accredited Kiwi Rangers receiving official badges and certificates upon completion over the weekend.
The success of the weekend was a team effort, with 360 Discovery offering a free child fare for every adult ticket purchased over the holiday weekend, and the volunteers from Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi looking after the deluge of new arrivals with such care and attention.
Tiritiri Matangi Island is an fabulous example of successful conservation work. More than 120 years of farming meant by the 1980s it had been stripped of almost all of its native bush. Intensive work by dedicated volunteers means 60 per cent of the sanctuary is covered with forest and it is home to some of the world’s rarest species.
Until now, Kiwi Ranger has only been available at 10 conservation sites in the South Island. Plans are afoot for it to be included at more North Island locations soon.
Become a Kiwi Ranger
Kiwi Ranger is a fun interactive programme offered free to kids of all ages, 3-103! It’s available in a range of places around New Zealand, and is a fun way for families to get to know these special places together. Find out more on the DOC website.
The family-focused conservation education programme Kiwi Ranger is being launched on Tiritiri Matangi Island this Queen’s Birthday weekend—for the first time giving Auckland kids the chance to be accredited as Kiwi Rangers.
Christchurch family Steve, Jenny and Meg visited Tiritiri Matangi while staying with family at Christmas. Having done two South Island Kiwi Ranger sites, they are now planning for a return visit to Tiritiri to earn their third badge. Jenny recalls their day:
Steve had always wanted to go to Tiritiri, so we decided to go before Christmas—before the hordes. The forecast was not great, with cyclone warnings, but the day turned out beautiful.
We bought a guide book on the boat so, when we arrived, we headed straight up the Wattle Track, which meanders up to the lighthouse and visitor centre.
I heard a strange noise, and then we saw it—a takahē skulking in the bushes. Meg thought that was pretty great.
We checked out the lighthouse and spent a bit of time looking at the really good history interpretation panels.
The old fog horn captured my imagination; I loved the old pictures of it originally sited over the cliff, and then seeing the replica one.
By then it was lunchtime, so we sat down in a big grassy area and ate while we chatted to the friendly DOC ranger.
We checked out the visitor centre and the shop, where I finished off my Christmas shopping. It seemed crazy shopping on an offshore island, but hey, they had some pretty funky things, and I felt good that my money was going to support a good cause.
We walked along the ridge track and got nice views all around the Hauraki Gulf, and looked for things rustling in bushes.
The most amazing thing about the trip was how close we got to the birds. On the mainland most forest birds hang out high in the canopy, but on Tiri they were actually scuttling around on the ground. We saw tui and quail having dust baths right on the track!
We weren’t sure how long it would take to walk the tracks with Meg, so we played it safe and headed down the Kawerau Track. In hindsight we probably could have gone further, but in some ways it was quite nice not to ‘frog-march’ around the island. There is something really magic about just wandering—taking time to see things properly.
The Kawerau Track was a really special old piece of forest, with pūriri and other really cool trees that you just don’t see in the South Island.
We had time on our hands so we ended up down on the beach and went for a swim before heading back to the boat.
We’d seen saddlebacks, takahē, amazing flowering rata and pohutukawa but, while we were waiting for the boat, we heard these people talking about seeing a kōkako. Steve was a bit disappointed to have missed that, so yes, we were thinking about coming back before we’d even left the island! And with Kiwi Ranger on the island now, Meg is pretty keen to get her hands on the badge. I know from having done it in other places it’s a great way to discover the hidden secrets of a place like Tiri.
When we come back we’ll walk some of the other tracks and we’d love to go stay overnight to hear a kōkako calling and experience the dawn chorus.
Meg was pretty quiet on the boat home. She sat leaning on the railing looking back towards the island as we pulled away. She’d had quality time with mum and dad, been for a swim, and seen some cool birds. It’s the kind of family time that makes for great memories, memories that last a lifetime.
Kiwi Ranger is being launched on Tiritiri Matangi over this Queen’s Birthday weekend, 1-3 June 2013. Join Lucy Lawless to become one of the first Tiritiri Kiwi Rangers!
Ferry company, 360 Discovery, are making it easy for families to travel to the island during Queen’s Birthday Weekend. One child may travel free with each fare-paying adult. Go to their website or call 0800 360 3472 to book.
The Kiwi Ranger programme will be ongoing, so visit any day Wed -Sun for a fun family day out with a difference.
Totaranui campground has held an almost mythical quality for me. I had heard so many people talk about it, how they return every year but I had never been there myself. The ballot system over Christmas implied that, like some private schools, you had to be part of ‘the establishment’ to get to go.
But when I heard friends were taking their child out of school to go during the off season, I was quick to gatecrash the party. Nervous about asking for more time off work so soon after Christmas my husband was taken aback when his boss said, “You have to go! Take at least a week, here borrow my kayak!”
Feeling a little nervous about the long drive ahead of us, we left Christchurch at 4 am. The children were so excited but were asleep again by 5 am and we were in Murchison for breakfast.
We arrived at the campsite early afternoon. The colours were extreme – sky was blue; sea was green and the sands were as golden as all the advertising photos promise. It reminded me of cheesecake – the moment when you pour the melted butter into the crushed biscuits – mmmm.
As soon as the tent was up, we were heading to the lagoon for the first of many swims. We were sharing a bay with four other families, all Totaranui regulars. They knew how to make the most of the place, especially at this quieter time of year.
Being Totaranui novices we learned a lot from them. They had bought flannelette pyjamas as the days were hot but nights were cool. And as well as solar showers they had bought black plastic boxes which they filled up with water every morning and sat in the sun for the children to wash in after each trip to the beach.
The children were in heaven. There was no mention of the TV or the computer all week. Instead they played and dug in the sand with their new friends, crafting mermaid tails and mini pa sites with driftwood. They learned how to paddle a kayak. They stayed up late to see the stars, cooked marshmallows over an open fire. They explored the rock pools, saw a stingray, hermit crabs, and kina. They built little boats out of harakeke and tested their sail-ability on the lagoon. They got bashed over by big waves and wrote postcards to their cousin.
The children all picked up a Kiwi Ranger booklet and earned a badge featuring weka and rata as well as the signature stretch of golden sand. The booklet is a great prompt to take time to explore further – it wasn’t until our third visit exploring rock pools that we spotted red sea anemones come to life under the water! A visit from a juvenile black-backed gull to our campsite meant William grabbed his booklet to quickly sketch the bird and note its features, while his campsite journal entry gave him pause to think and record all the special memories from his trip.
In exchange for a week out of school, he also had to fill in a diary entry each day. Some of his entries were quite poetic; “cutting through the waves in the kayak was like killing the waves and the splashes were like splashes of blood” (a bit dark but that’s boys for you!). Some things he didn’t mention were apparently a secret – like the secret jumping rock (Spoilsport Mum!).
The highlight for us all was the night walk to see the glow worms. The sun was setting pale and pink just as we made our way across the lagoon. The kids were all rugged up against the cold night air. As dusk fell the glow worms appeared under banks and amongst tree ferns, little sparks in the dark. It was better than a class room as they excitedly asked lots of questions.
It was a trip to remember. Now I know why families go back there every year. Once you have been, you will know too.
Totaranui is a ‘Great Walks’ campground next to the clear waters and golden sands of Totaranui beach and estuary, in the wonderful Abel Tasman National Park.
It’s been a popular place for families for many years, with sites booked out every summer. People come here to relax on the beach, swim, kayak, fish or explore the nearby stands of native bush by walking one of the many tracks. Now its popularity is set to increase, as Kiwi Ranger is added to the mix of family-friendly fun activities on offer.
Kiwi Ranger is for kids of all ages – from 3 to 103! It’s a booklet of activities which you can choose from to do during your visit.
With Kiwi Ranger you can:
- Use all your senses on the Pukatea Walk,
- Walk barefoot between the tides and dig down to discover the colours and patterns of the mudflats,
- Explore rock pools shaped by wind and waves and discover what lives within,
- Keep a campsite journal,
- Collect a checklist of amazing nature experiences; watch a sunrise, be bitten by sandfly/namu, lie under a giant māmaku fern, or watch fluorescence where the waves break.
Kiwi Ranger guides families to make the most of their visit, by taking it beyond a mere walk in the park, to an experience worth remembering and treasuring.
Becoming a Totaranui Kiwi ranger is easy. Pick up your booklet from the Totaranui camp office. Check out how many activities you should do depending on your age. Then when you are done, return your completed booklet to the campsite office to claim your badge!
Booklets and badges will be available next week – just in time for Christmas!
The newest Kiwi Ranger site is Ōtamahua/Quail Island near Christchurch – the first island site and the first Kiwi Ranger site close to a city. It’s a perfect place for families to make memories together.
My own strongest childhood memories are all of experiences in nature, thanks to my father who took me to lots of wild places. I have memories of walking behind him holding onto his pack as we balanced across a log bridge; of playing explorers by wading down a stream in the Kaimais, collecting tadpoles and waving toi toi flags. As a teenager he took me on wilder tramps, where we camped under tent flies and saw no one else for days on end.
These memories and experiences were a huge influence on the adult I am today, someone who works for DOC because I believe in the work we do. I’m trying to do the same for my own kids – but in this increasingly urban and tech-driven world it’s getting pretty hard. There are less “wild places” in cities. I’m competing with the TV, the computer, gaming devices, for their attention – and not always winning.
There is growing evidence that children are increasingly disconnected from that natural world. International surveys show that fewer children are experiencing nature directly, with many playing indoors rather than out. Research also shows that childhood experiences with nature plays a critical role in determining life attitudes, knowledge and behaviours towards the environment. I know that’s true for me.
But how do we help families that may be disconnected from these opportunities, or who may not have had the same influences in their own lives, get reconnected?
Kiwi Ranger is one way. It’s a network of experiential interpretation sites, designed to help families connect with key conservation places. At its core is a booklet of activities and a badge to collect each unique to each site, similar to the highly successful Junior Ranger in USA.
Each booklet acts like a guide to experiencing our wild places, some of which are a bit daunting to families visiting for the first time. It helps them to stop and take a closer look, to make the most of their visit, so its not just a nice walk, but an experience worth remembering and treasuring.
So far it’s only in the South Island – but North Island sites are coming on board next year.
On Sunday 9 December we are launching Ōtamahua / Quail Island. My son William and his friend Maddie helped trial the booklet and will be getting their badges presented to them in a special ceremony. We will have a sausage sizzle on the beach and we hope lots of other families will come along and become Kiwi Rangers too.
I’m hoping this will be an experience they will remember.
P.S – The Ōtamahua / Quail Island Kiwi Ranger booklet can be picked up from Black Cat Ferries, the Lyttelton i-SITE or from the Mahaanui Area DOC Office in Sockburn.
Return your completed booklet to the any of the three locations above to claim your badge!
Youtube clip: Quail Island Kiwi Ranger