Archives For Mayor Island

By John Kearvell, Biodiversity Ranger – Orange-fronted parakeet

Aerial view of Tuhua/Mayor Island.

Tuhua/Mayor Island

On Wednesday 19th December 12 orange-fronted parakeets/kākāriki karaka (9 males and 3 females) were released on Tuhua/Mayor Island. The orange-fronted parakeets were bred at the Captive Unit at Peacock Springs, by the Isaacs Wildlife Trust in Christchurch.

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.

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.

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.

This has got to be the best office in the world!!!!

The sunrise view of South East Bay from my bunk

I’ve just spent a week with 14 other staff, four volunteers and two owners on Tuhua (Mayor) Island.  Whilst the view of the sunrise from my bunk each morning was a great way to start each day, it was certainly no holiday. 

Each day we loaded our gear and set off on a range of tasks all over the island, returning at the end of day to eat and fall into bed, exhausted but excited to have made a dent in the long list of jobs we had to complete.

Our hard work was rewarded by regular sightings of rare birds, plants, lizards and marine mammals.  Here are just a few of the locals that we saw.

We’ve been working in partnership with the owners (Tuhua Trust Board) for many years to restore the pest-free island and now we’re helping them to make it more accessible for people to enjoy.

I spent three days with our botanist and weed specialists spraying and searching for weeds all over the island, including one day of wading through a wetland, pushing through head-high walls of vegetation in search of the invasive royal fern.  

Spray unit loaded and off to spray weeds

The wetland we waded through










My last day was spent helping to fix the floor of the caretakers cottage and shifting firewood.

Eveyone’s skills and expertise were used around the island – upgrading buildings, tracks, water supply, removing massive fallen pohutukawa logs from where they had fallen on top of buildings, cleaning up the ammentity areas, killing weeds, patrolling the Marine Reserve, searching for springs in preparation for our orange-front parakeet transfer coming up in December and checking on the pateke (brown teal) and kiwi that have been released on the island.

Rope & chainsaw skills got put to the test

Dave checked out a cliffside kiwi nest

Chris and John fixed the floor

Tawara cleared the track

Dean & Alastair built a huge firewood pile

As inviting as the water looked, I only managed one swim – the cool water and 2m shark we saw swimming in the bay on our first evening were a little off-putting.  But when I did get wet, I took mask & snorkel with me and got to see some beautiful kelp beds, big angel fish and incredibly glossy obsidian.

Click here to find out how you could visit Tuhua – Tauranga’s piece of paradise.