Archives For Rakiura

The first Air New Zealand-funded transfer of fledgling Stewart Island robins from Ulva Island to a new home in the Dancing Star Foundation sanctuary has taken place successfully, with the assistance of students from Halfmoon Bay School.

Kari Beaven prepares a catch net on Ulva Island.

Kari Beaven prepares a catch net on Ulva Island

The transfer is the first step in a plan to re-establish a population of robins on Stewart Island around parts of the Rakiura Great Walk. Located near the start of the Great Walk, the Dancing Star site offers an ideal opportunity for this. Its predator-free status will allow the young birds to establish a breeding population within this fenced ‘mainland island’.

Otago University researcher Sol Heber records data for each robin.

Otago University researcher Sol Heber records data for each robin

Establishing a new breeding population of Stewart Island robins forms part of a much wider biodiversity project resulting from an exciting new conservation partnership between DOC and Air New Zealand.

The project aims to enrich biodiversity and enhance visitor experiences around New Zealand’s Great Walks, with plans also in place for the Routeburn, Milford and Lake Waikaremoana tracks.

Robins are transported securely in cat carrying boxes.

Robins are transported securely in cat carrying boxes

The recent capture of robins on Ulva Island was undertaken by DOC staff and members of a University of Otago research team. After being measured and weighed the fledglings were placed in boxes in preparation for their journey, initially by boat, to their new location.The Halfmoon Bay School children’s role in the transfer was to assist with the release of the robins. After meeting the boat, the children accompanied the birds, in their boxes, into an area of dense bush inside the Dancing Star sanctuary.

Fledgling robin a little reluctant to leave the safety of the carry box.

Fledgling robin a little reluctant to leave the safety of the carry box

A mihi was performed to welcome the robins to their new home, after which, one by one, boxes were opened by the children and the birds were offered their freedom.

It was such a buzz, they’re still talking about it. One child said, “I didn’t think it was going to let go of the perch”. Another: “I got a fright when it took off”, and another said it was “really cool”. Several thought it was pretty funny taking the birds in cat carrying boxes!
Robins in boxes are accompanied by children from Halfmoon Bay school.

Robins in boxes are accompanied by children from Halfmoon Bay school

As their population establishes and increases, future generations of robins are expected to ‘spill over’ and establish in territories outside the predator-fenced sanctuary. Over time, walkers on the Rakiura Track will be able to see and hear robins.

A trapping programme to manage predators around the Rakiura track is part of the Air New Zealand Great Walk biodiversity project. The project also includes plans to increase the kiwi population and work on the restoration of significant dunes adjacent to the Great Walk.

Helping release the robins into their new home.

Helping release the robins into their new home

To celebrate Conservation Week and this year’s theme ‘Love your parks’, Visitor Centre staff from national parks around the country share with us some interesting facts.

There are 14 national parks in New Zealand, and while Kiwis like to celebrate and show off our beautiful national parks, it is often only when people get the chance to visit that they get to learn about some of the hidden secrets and fascinating histories of these places.

Below is a list of some of the interesting facts and figures that have been sent in by our visitor centre staff who like to pass on these pieces of information to visitors to their area.

From the Franz Josef i-SITE:

Franz and his beard

In 1865 Julius Haast named the Franz Josef Glacier after the Emperor of Austria because it reminded him of his long white beard.

Franz Josef is one of only three glaciers that flow down into temperate rainforest; Fox is the other and San Rafael in Patagonia is the third.

The Alpine Fault Line runs right under the town’s petrol station.

The average yearly rain fall in Franz Josef is almost 6000mm compared to Christchurch, which receives approximately 650mm.

From the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre:

Arthur’s Pass National Park was the first National Park in the South Island.

Arthur’s Pass village is absolutely tiny, home to only 30-odd permanent residents and surrounded by the 114,000 hectare Arthur’s Pass National Park.

A new plaque on the Arthur’s Pass historic walk was recently put in beside the original lump of greywacke which Ray (above) carved the first symbol into.

Arthur’s Pass is one of only two places in New Zealand with possessive apostrophes in their names (the other is Hawke’s Bay). The Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre takes apostrophe protection very seriously!

Arthur’s Pass ranger, Ray Cleland, was one of the first full-time professional rangers in the country. In 1956 he designed the mountain, beech and river emblem for Arthur’s Pass National Park which he carved into a lump of greywacke.

From Whakapapa Visitor Centre:

The Tongariro Northern Circuit was opened as a Great Walk on the Labour Weekend of the 1992/1993 season.

In 2007 the Tongariro Crossing track was renamed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to better reflect the nature and terrain of the track and to address concerns that many visitors who undertook the Crossing were under-prepared both in terms of equipment and expectation.

The track used for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing has been in existence for many years, but was not called the Tongariro Crossing until much later. Part of this track was previously used as a horse track.

From Paparoa National Park:

The flaggy limestone layers of the Pancake Rocks are unique to Paparoa. They occur nowhere else in the world.

The well known Inland Pack Track follows a track originally formed by gold miners.

The endemic Westland Black Petrel breeds only on the Punakaiki Coast.

From Nelson Lakes National Park:

During the last Ice Age massive glaciers created troughs in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River. Today these troughs are filled by Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

The last glacial action in this area was between 12,000 and 20,000 years ago.

From the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre:

85% of Stewart Island’s total land mass is included inside the borders of Rakiura National Park.

Rakiura means “The Land of the Glowing Skies”—a reference to both the stunning night sky phenomenon known as the Southern Lights and the magnificent sunsets that can be viewed there.

If you have any fun national park facts to share we’d love to hear them; we may even be able to add them to our story for the blog!