Archives For Maud Island

The Cook Strait striped gecko is one of the rarest New Zealand lizards. It is found on Stephens Island in the Cook Strait and on Maud Island in Pelorus Sound.

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Volunteer weed busters tackle invasive weeds on Maud Island (Te Hoiere) in the Marlborough Sounds.

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We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week (15-21 June 2014). Join us as we share stories of the volunteers who contribute to conservation.

Sorrel Hoskin.

Sorrel Hoskin

Today, we’re publishing (with permission) an email sent by DOC Ranger, Sorrel Hoskin (New Plymouth/Ngamotu), to DOC Director-General, Lou Sanson…

As a partnerships visitor centre ranger on Mounga Taranaki I work in an amazing place—driving to work in the morning I look up at the mountain and feel lucky to work in such a special environment.

Mount Taranaki. Photo:  Kathrin & Stefan Marks | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Mounga Taranaki—an amazing place to work

We get busy at the visitor centre, and opportunities to get out and explore some of amazing places we help care for are limited.

Volunteers (left to right): Linda, Sorrel and Victoria.

Volunteers (left to right):
Linda, Sorrel and Victoria

When I read and hear about some of the cool things being done by colleagues around the country I wanted to learn more and help in some small way.

I also thought it’s important to know what we at DOC are asking of our volunteers. How can we promote and ask people to volunteer if we ourselves haven’t “walked the walk”?

So I took some annual leave and signed up as a volunteer for DOC on Maud Island doing weed work.

Ten days later, one volunteer experience doesn’t make me an expert—but it gave me an idea of what being a ‘volly’ is like.

The Maud Island trip was a big ask—10 days straight working 8 hours a day clambering up steep hills struggling through scrub looking for old man’s beard, wilding pines and pohutukawa to chop down.

Sometimes the going was steep.

Sometimes the going was steep!

Getting scratched, hot and tired, stumbling over fallen trees, ending upside down in gorse bushes… there were times I thought “what the #$@&% am I doing here?”

Old man's beard weeding.

Weeding old man’s beard

But I’d go back again and again. The hard work is balanced by the opportunity to be around some passionate, knowledgeable, DOC people—who obviously love their work—and interact with and learn more about takahē, kākāpō, giant weta, geckos, the Maud Island frog and penguins

I have amazing memories of going exploring one night and having to be careful where we walk so as not to accidentally step on giant weta or any tiny Maud Island frogs.

View from Comalco Lodge, Maud Island

View from Comalco Lodge, Maud Island

Night swimming in phosphorescence and watching a “glowing” little blue penguin swim by was a highlight… and then there’s the saddening impact of what the introduction of mice to the island means to all those species and the rangers who take care of them.

Taking a break.

Taking a break

I’ve returned to my job on the mountain with a greater understanding of the work being done to protect some of our endangered species, and a higher respect for colleagues who help protect these species. I also have a little experience of what it is like to be a volunteer for DOC. It’s bloody hard work—but it’s worth it.

Sunset from Maud Island.

Sunset from Maud Island

Volunteers play a vital role in conservation in New Zealand, whether they’re working with DOC or other community conservation groups.

Volunteer for conservation and help us on our mission to make New Zealand the greatest living space on Earth!

By Megan Farley, Ranger (Biodiversity Services) in Rangiora.

The orange-fronted parakeet (kākāriki karaka) is arguably New Zealand’s most threatened endemic forest bird species.

During a recent stint in the field, the orange-fronted parakeet team spent four days monitoring the population of parakeets that have been released on Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds

Young orange-fronted parakeet on Maud Island. Photo: Megan Farley.

Young orange-fronted parakeet on Maud Island

Maud Island has had a few issues for the parakeet population, due to a pair of falcon (kārearea) attacking fledging chicks, a lack of nesting sites, and a lack of water and food sources.

Maud Island.

Maud Island

Despite these setbacks a flock of eight orange fronted parakeets were found during this trip, all feeding together on olearia flowers (tree daisies) and bathing in the nearby stream.

Mature male orange-fronted parakeet. Photo Andrew Legault.

Mature male orange-fronted parakeet from one of the first releases onto Maud Island in 2007

Of the individual parakeets that were found, three were original birds released onto the island over six years ago, while five were birds that had hatched on the island.

Find more information on the orange-fronted parakeet on the DOC website or by liking Team OFP on Facebook.

Takahē live interesting lives and, thanks to Biodiversity Ranger, Chris Birmingham, we’ve got our hands on the 2013 diary of one of the Maud Island locals. So, for your reading pleasure, may we present to you… A year in the life of Pitt, the matriarchal takahē’:


It’s January 2013. I feel it’s time to leave Roy. He’s a nice guy but I don’t think he’s fatherhood material.

We’ve been out here on the Peninsula now for a while, and he didn’t do a great job of incubating our eggs last year, and they failed to hatch. I can’t describe my disappointment when the rangers came and told me my egg had failed, and that I wouldn’t be a mother this year. Again! Poor genetics they said! Pffft! There is nothing wrong with my genes, it’s these men they keep trying to pair me up with! I have great Fiordland takahē genes!

Time to go. And besides, I miss the fig tree at the ranger’s house. Roy never really did like figs.

Pitt the takahē carry a fig in her beak.

I love pinching figs from the ranger’s tree


Dear diary, now it’s February, I packed my bags under my wing and left Roy and moved back to Home Bay. When I got here I discovered a new pair of takahē had taken over my old stomping ground.

No, no, no, no, no this is not good enough! Don’t they understand the pecking order here? You can’t just arrive and expect to take up the best territory! It doesn’t work like that.

But wait….that Kowhai is quite a handsome bird isn’t he? Strong looking, cute, and from Burwood Bush too—my old home. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but you can’t have it all I guess. Can’t say I like his girlfriend Harper much though, too clingy, he’d be much better off without her.


Dear diary, now it’s’ March. I knew it wouldn’t be hard to woo Kowhai away from Harper. She clearly underestimated the power and charm of an older woman. I saw her off with the help of my old nemeses from up the hill, The Captain and Rangi. Rangi might be in her twilight years now, but she still loves a good fracas! And they know me well enough to stay up the hill too! Now to make Kowhai mine for good!

Couple months later

Dear diary, it’s been a couple of months now since I lassoed Kowhai. I have taught him in the ways of the fig and the feijoa, and showed him how to get the most out of the rangers here on Maud. People are easy to train, takahē not so!

Winter’s coming, time to batten down the hatches and hunker down.

Pitt the takahē with ruffled feathers on her head.

What do you think of my new hairstyle?

Several months later

Dear diary, it’s several months since my last entry. Things were so great for so long, now Kowhai is gone! Oh, woe is me! That strumpet Pango from over the hill came and stole him from me. Is this karma coming to burn me for taking him from Harper? Now she has paired up with Roy, and I am alone again. A girl could just cry. If takahē cried, of course.

One week later

Dear diary, it’s one week since Kowhai left. I am hoarse from calling for him, but I get no reply. He must have gone off to the other side of the island. I can’t even find consolation in food anymore.

Two weeks later

Dear diary, week two of flying solo. I was just about to steel myself and head over the hill to get Kowhai back from that wanton harlot, when who should turn up? Kowhai!

Seems Pango wasn’t half the woman I am! I was so pleased so to see him again, but I didn’t let on…too much. I let him know in no uncertain terms that if he did that again, the welcome mat wouldn’t be so welcoming next time. In fact, don’t bother coming back! But I love the way he grooms me, and runs around like a fool sometimes when he gets startled. This must be love?


Dear diary, we made it through winter and now it is spring. I am starting to feel ‘clucky’. Kowhai and I are taking turns chasing each other round the Lodge lawn. Spring is definitely in the air! I think it’s time to show Kowhai how to build a nest.

Late October

Dear diary, it’s late October now, we’ve been busy. Building a good nest takes time. Kowhai isn’t the most technically apt nest builder, but he more than makes up for lack of skill with enthusiasm!

And now, guess what!? I am sitting on an egg! A creamy little speckled orb of joy! I am so excited, and so is Kowhai. It’s his second go at incubating—he tells me had a go at Burwood but it didn’t work. Never mind, with some careful guidance from an old hand like me, we’ll get there! I have a good feeling about this year. It’s hard to believe I have been in this position many times before, but never enjoyed the thrill of raising my own chick.

A Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue box on Maud Island.

Maud Island, the perfect place to be a takahē

Early November

Dear diary, It’s early November and today the ranger came and “candled” my egg. I hate this part, though I accept it’s all part of the process. I trust them implicitly with my egg so I stand up and let them take it out. I know they want it to hatch as badly as I do. They shine a torch through it and check for development in the embryo. I hear excited murmurs from  them and soon my egg is placed carefully back under me. They know what I already do, it’s fertile! A mother always knows. I tuck the egg back under me and smugly drift off to sleep in my warm nest. Kowhai isn’t so sure and paces about outside. I reassure him with a few soft “narks”.

Mid November

Dear diary, it’s mid November now, and today my egg internally pipped! My little chick has broken out if its internal membrane and is ready to start pecking its way out of the outer egg shell!

I call Kowhai over, this is the most exciting part of the whole process. I talk to it, encouraging it out of its dark calcium cocoon, it talks back, peeping away and struggling to break the outer shell with its’ cute little “egg tooth” on the end of its beak.

Over the next  few hours it chips away until suddenly it breaks the whole end of the egg off and rolls out, a delicate little wet bundle of joy!

24 hours later

Dear diary, it’s been 24 hours now since our baby hatched. Kowhai and I are beside ourselves with happiness. I know the rangers are too, they knew when it would hatch and have come to listen for it. I can hear their joy when they hear it chirping away to me!  I have kept it warm under me, letting it dry out and now it is a little ball of black fluff, squeaking away like crazy, so hungry, so curious to get out of the nest. Don’t be in such a hurry little one, the world will wait for you! Now the mammoth task of raising our chick begins, are you ready, Kowhai?


Dear Diary, I’ve been too busy raising my precious new chick to find time for my diary. Kowhai is coping being a new dad and our crazy, hungry, and now rather loud chick is getting big—I know what they mean now when they say they grow up so fast.

It has been a rough year of highs and lows, but having our new wee chick has bought a stunning end to 2013.

A young, black takahē chick.

A new takahē chick to end 2013!

By Jeff Hall, Biodiversity Ranger, Mana Island.

The takahē population on Mana Island have had a few new pairings formed over recent months, as a result of the sort of behaviour that could only be likened to an episode of “Days of our Lives” or “The Young and the Restless”.

Fence around takahē home on Mana Island.

Takahē home on Mana Island

While it is not always a good idea to anthropomorphise a wild animals behaviour, the antics of one of our recent immigrants does seem to warrant it.

McCaw (named when she hatched soon after the All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup) came to Mana Island from Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds for an “arranged marriage” with one of our young lads.

McCaw spent three weeks in a large enclosure with her new suitor, Nohorua. They appeared to be getting along, but as it turned out she had other plans. The male from another pair that lived beside the enclosure had caught her eye. Within a couple of days of release McCaw left Nohorua, and used her youthful energy and good looks to split up the long established pairing of Kat and Santi.

Two takahē on Mana Island.

McCaw and Santi the takahē are nesting

But like all good day time television dramas these heart breaking acts had a happy outcome for some; McCaw and Santi have just started nesting. Kat – after licking her wounds and shaking her tail feathers has landed herself a younger man in Hori. But what of the jilted Nohorua you ask? His quest to find the perfect match continues.

Our takahē are well into another breeding season, with nine pairs nesting. The first nests of the season have started to hatch so hopefully we get a reasonable run of weather to help the chicks establish.

Three children coming face to face with a takahē on Mana Island.

Meeting a takahē

We had planned to do another egg transfer to Southland this year, but the birds had other plans. Our birds were a bit tardy in getting going while the southern “foster” pairs started earlier. The requirement for them to start around the same time was lost on the takahē, but at least they’re nesting!

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Today’s photo shows DOC’s Mike Aviss (left) and Chris Birmingham (right) on Maud Island/Te Hoiere changing the transmitter on Rangi the takahē.

Changing the transmitter on takahe Rangi.

This image is one of the shots you’ll find in your feed when you follow DOC on Instagram.

Instagram is a free photo-sharing app for mobile devices. It allows us (and you!) to take, upload, edit and share photos.

By following DOC on Instagram you’ll be treated to images of the amazing species, places, plants, pursuits and people DOC gets to experience every day, taken by the rangers who are out there ‘doing it’.

Do you use Instagram? Let us know. We’re keen to connect!