Archives For Quail Island

The addition of a large pou whenua on Ōtamahua/Quail Island is a welcome sight for tangata whenua, on an island with a long and rich history.

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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.

Maddie Harrison and William Webb at the ships graveyard; photo S Mankelow DOC.

Maddie Harrison and William Webb at the ships graveyard, Otamahua/Quail Island

The author Sarah, as a leggy 13-year-old in the Kaimanawas.

The author Sarah, as a leggy 13-year-old in the Kaimanawas.

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.

Maddie; photo S Mankelow DOC.

Maddie filling out her Kiwi Ranger activity booklet

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.

Kiwi Ranger Quail Island.

William Webb and Maddie Harrison – Kiwi Rangers

Otamahua / Quail Island badge. P.SThe 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

All is not lost – we are keeping some of Christchurch’s historic stone buildings! One of my favourite places to visit is the Sign of the Packhorse Hut and I was really happy to hear that it had survived the latest Christchurch earthquake

Sign of the Packhorse Hut

It’s a beautiful old stone hut in a great location; perched on a saddle offering a grand view of Lyttelton Harbour below and the curve of the Port Hills sweeping around its edges.

Happy memories are attached to that place – my daughter’s first overnight stay in a hut aged only two! The friends we took with us who had also never been tramping before. The bottle of wine we hauled up the hill to drink with our pasta meal, celebrating a new year’s arrival as the sun set. Staying up all night as the kids played up and took turns to keep their parents awake, finally dropping off at dawn for an hour or two of sleep.

Happy memories – my daughter’s first overnight stay in a hut

Sign of the Packhorse Hut lost its chimney and suffered some cracks in the September 4 quake, but it seems to have held it all together OK this time. Its open again to walkers coming from Kaituna valley or Gebbies Pass, but the track to Mount Herbert is closed pending a geotechnical survey.

This historic nine-bunk stone hut was built as part of a planned series of rest houses by Harry Ell for a proposed summit route from Christchurch to Akaroa. Only four houses were ever built, all from locally quarried volcanic stone.

Making memories

Fort Jervois on Ripapa Island has also survived but has suffered some damage and remains closed for now. 

Ōtamahua / Quail Island is safe and open again, another great place for families to go and have an adventure, forgetting about troubles for a while. Most of the reserves on Banks Peninsula are also now open, but reserves on the Port Hills stay closed due to the risks of rock fall.  Godley Head too, is closed – all tracks and even the road is a risky place to be until rock hazards can be managed so stay clear. 

While we keep getting large aftershocks, rock fall danger is very real, so please, keep safe and keep out of closed areas. Updates on track and facilities can be found on the DOC website.

But there’s nothing like getting back to nature to shake off the stresses of every day living – especially in a town that keeps trembling – so get out and about and make some memories of your own.