Archives For rangers

Two DOC rangers joined Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki to represent DOC at the premiere of ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ last week.

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DOC had a delegation of 14 staff—from rangers to the Director-General—at the recent World Parks Congress in Sydney.

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By DOC Ranger, Cody Thyne

As a ranger based in Twizel the main part of my job is supporting the Kakī Recovery Programme.

Kakī/black stilts are one of New Zealand’s rarest birds and the mission of the Kakī Recovery Programme is to increase their population in the wild and ensure this special bird is not lost for future generations.

Kakī/black stilt. Photo: Mike Robb.

Kakī/black stilt

As part of a small team of four permanent and a few seasonal staff, my responsibilities involve managing kakī in the wild. This includes counting how many adults are out there; traipsing up and down numerous braided rivers in the Mackenzie Basin searching for breeding pairs; observing and interpreting behaviour; finding their nests; reading leg bands; and collecting eggs from the wild to bring back to the captive rearing facility in Twizel.

Holding a kakī chick with Jazz the conservation dog in the background.

Kakī chick found thanks to Jazz the conservation dog

Walking up and down large braided rivers isn’t for everyone, particularly if you don’t like uneven ground, stumbling around, getting your feet and other body parts wet, super hot days with no shade, howling winds, abrupt temperature changes, long periods of time staring through a spotting scope with one eye, and your lunchtime sandwiches turning to toast upon being exposed to the dry alpine air. However, the alpine views are breathtaking, and the chance to see wildlife that manages to scrape out a living in this environment, is definitely worth a trip to this part of the country.

Rangers banding a kaki chick.

Rangers from the Kakī Recovery Programme banding a 30 day old chick

The eggs I collect are brought back to the captive rearing facility in Twizel which is also home to a number of kakī pairs for captive breeding.

The facility is where kakī eggs are artificially incubated and the young chicks are raised in captivity.

At 3–9 months they are released into the wild. Rearing them in captivity significantly increases their chances of survival by preventing predation when they are most vulnerable and it also gets them through their first winter, which can be tough for young birds in the wild.

Nick Tomalin was a volunteer with at the captive rearing facility last summer while on sabbatical from The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the United Kingdom.

Nick’s help was hugely appreciated at the busiest time of the year, and he managed to film a great short video about the work that goes on at the facility.

Watch Nick’s video of an average day in the life of a kakī aviculturalist:

You can keep up to date with the work of the Kakī Recovery Programme on Facebook and on the DOC website.

Ever wondered what DOC rangers do in a typical busy day? Well, Rangers Daryl and Keith help look after a wonderful piece of New Zealand’s bush very close to Wellington.

Ranger Daryl Stephens at Papatahi Hut checking off a list.

Ranger Daryl making sure Papatahi Hut is up to scratch

Rimutaka Forest Park is a 40 minute drive from Wellington city.

From the Catchpool Valley (the most popular entrance to Rimutaka Forest Park) you’re only a 2-3 hour easy tramp away from six awesome DOC huts, with full kitchens—including cookers, cutlery, crockery, and firewood. One hut even has a gas BBQ, inside flushing toilet and a hot shower.

A DOC ute before being loaded up with gear.

The trusty DOC ute

As these huts are very busy someone has to make sure that they are always in good working order.

This is where Ranger Daryl and Keith come in.

Every month they load up their trusty DOC ute and spend 3-4 days at the huts, making sure everything is spick and span.

They have lots of different jobs to do. Some are fun (cleaning the toilets), and some are less so (having a nap on the bunks to make sure the mattress is comfy).

Driving the DOC ute off-road beside a stream in Rimutaka Forest Park.


Their day starts early, loading up the ute with all they think they need, from soap and toilet paper, through to firewood, gas and chainsaws.

Ranger Daryl Stephens checking a hose pipe near the stream.

Checking the water supply

Once they are at the hut they have an extensive list to go through to make sure the hut is okay:

Clean the loos, the gutters, the floor, wash the decks, check the cookers, check the water in the tanks, check the water pipes, check windows, check all the walls of the hut, a visual inspection of the roof, check no bush is too close to the hut, check the animal traps, check the signs, remove all rubbish and of course sign the hut book!

This is done for all six huts. They also walk the main tracks and check for windfall and track damage. I’m tired just thinking about it all.

Last and not least some advice from Ranger Keith:

“Empty wine bottles do not make good candle holders as they can fall over and start a fire, so please take them home with you.”

And if you do take away empty wine bottles, Ranger Daryl guarantees that:

“You will get good tramping karma and it will never rain on your tramping trip ever again.”

Ranger Daryl Stephens inspecting the water tank at a hut.

Water tanks

So, the next time you spend a night in one of our wonderful backcountry huts think about these rangers who spend their day making it comfortable for you to use, and make sure you leave a nice comment in the hut book.

The six huts in the Rimutaka Forest Park can be booked on a per night basis and sleep 4-14. They’re perfect for families and people wanting to know for sure that they have a bed for the night. They are also sole occupancy huts (meaning you don’t need to share with anyone else!). These huts can get busy, so it’s best to book early.

Haurangi Hut | Jans Hut | Turere Lodge | Raukawa Hut | Papatahi Hut | Boar Inn

Where are the best places to go camping in New Zealand? We asked five DOC rangers to tell us about their favourites, in less than ten words. This is what they told us:

Hot Water Beach campsite, Lake Tarawera

“Hot pools abound, cook in the ground, without a sound.” ~ Manu Rangiheuea, Aquatic Pests Ranger, Rotorua

Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera. Photo: Dino Borelli | CC BY-NC 2.0

Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera. Photo: Dino Borelli


Pelorus Bridge campsite, Marlborough

“Best swimming hole ever, amazing forest, and long tailed bats!” ~ Clare Duston, Community Relations Ranger, Marlborough

Pelorus Bridge, Marlborough. Photo: Jeff Hitchcock | CC BY 2.0

Pelorus Bridge, Marlborough. Photo: Jeff Hitchcock


Peel Forest campground, Canterbury

“Really good facilities, grass spaces, swimming, shady forest and waterfalls.” ~ Andy Thompson, Recreation Technical Advisor, Christchurch

Peel Forest, Canterbury. Photo: Anne Devereaux | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Peel Forest, Canterbury. Photo: Anne Devereaux


Lake Kaniere campsite, Hokitika

“Cycle trail, swimming, waterfall, bird song, relax or adventure.” ~ Jose Watson, Partnerships Ranger, Hokitika

Lake Kaniere, Hokitika. Photo: Jason Blair | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Lake Kaniere, Hokitika. Photo: Jason Blair


Mavora Lakes campsite, Southland

“In winter, snow, lake, starry skies, mountains. In summer, bliss!” ~ Chrissy Wickes, Biodiversity Ranger, Fiordland

Mavora Lakes, Southland. Photo: Andy Nelson | CC BY-NC 2.0

Mavora Lakes, Southland. Photo: Andy Nelson

Hopefully that’s given you a few ideas for your next camping trip.

Now, are you generous enough to share your favourite New Zealand campsite with us? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and see if you can tell us in under 10 words!

Happy camping everyone.

To celebrate Whio Awareness Month, Auckland Zoo held two Whio family fun days last weekend at the new whio enclosure. Communications & Engagement Advisor Robyn Orchard recounts the ‘whiotastic weekend’:

Raising awareness of whio and their importance to our environment was the objective of the whio family fun weekend at the Auckland Zoo at the weekend. And as Captain Whio, Andy Glaser, would say it was ‘whiotastic’!

Andy Glaser and his team before the zoo opened for the day.

Captain Whio (Andy Glaser) and his team before the zoo opened for the day

Over 7,000 people came through the Auckland Zoo gates over the weekend and my guess is that more than half of these came to see the new whio enclosure, take part in the Blue Duck Race, get their faces painted, talk to DOC and Genesis Energy staff, and get their photo taken in front of the giant $10 note whio billboard (check out the good looking DOC models above).

The weekend kicked off early Friday morning with the official unveiling of the new exhibit material in the enclosure. For me and my Genesis Energy colleague, Jenny Burke, it was an early start to get everything ready for the guests. At 6.30 am it’s still dark and a little spooky at the zoo; there are some weird noises with all those animals waking. I am sure I heard the lion or tiger roaring for breakfast – I was just praying that they were still well locked up.

Emily shows children how traps help to protect whio.

Emily showing some of the children how the DOC 200s work

Daylight was peeking through when the guests arrived at the new whio enclosure. The enclosure’s whio information was a collaboration between Auckland Zoo, Genesis Energy, and DOC. Jonathan Wilcken, Director at Auckland Zoo, welcomed more than 50 guests to the zoo for the breakfast launch. He thanked Genesis and DOC for working with the zoo staff in getting the whio information ready for opening.

Ali helps children colour in whio images at Auckland Zoo.

Ali explains the whio colours to some of the colouring kids

DOC Director General Al Morrison spoke about the importance of building on the partnerships DOC have with Genesis and extending the relationship DOC has with the zoo. He said that with Genesis Energy’s commitment, DOC’s expertise and Auckland Zoo’s engagement we would be able to spread the whio message far and wide.

High fives at the end of the rubber duck race.

High fives all round at the end of the whio race

The first 500 people visiting the zoo on both Saturday and Sunday received numbered blue duck ticket for the 11.30 am blue duck race. By 10 am, on both days, the blue duck tickets had been given out.

Captain Whio and his ranger team are used to getting wet when catching whio in the wild so they all donned gumboots and rubber gloves and took to the stream that ran through the zoo. Two of the rangers had the job of tipping the 500 rubber blue ducks off the bridge and into the stream when Captain Whio and the crowd completed the countdown.

The blue (rubber) ducks race at Auckland Zoo.

Racing the blue ducks are off and Mithuna is hurrying the stragglers along

The whio family fun weekend at Auckland Zoo was an awesome experience and an amazing opportunity to get the whio message out. One of the highlights for me had to be on Sunday morning when I went to get breakfast before the zoo opened, walking up to the café I was met by four zoo keepers taking the cheetahs out for their morning walk.

There are many New Zealanders who will most likely never get the chance to see a whio in the wild. But here in the new whio enclosure, the zoo has brought the High Country to Auckland, making it possible for thousands of people each week to learn about the whio and see them close-up.

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile David Lynn, Ranger—Visitor and Historic Assets, in DOC’s Gisborne/Whakatane Area Office.

David Lynn with a weka.

Out mucking in, helping capture, weigh and measure
North Island weka, at Motu

Some things I do in my job include…

Track maintenance, hut maintenance, track inspections, managing the awesome Anaura Bay Campground, managing ‘Gateway’ school students, my Duty Officer role, fire fighting, as well as around 12 years at DOC as a Conservancy Records/Admin officer.

Fire fighters battling a burning house.

Fire training. This is a house at Opotiki. A learning experience, as only months later I witnessed a real house on fire at Pahiatua. I was first on the scene, kicked the door down but, through our training, knew it was too late

The best bit about my job is…

Getting out there and walking our lovely tracks and rivers. I’ve often stopped and looked around—whilst in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a fresh water river—and looked at the great scenery, and thought…’What an awesome job I have’.

The scariest DOC moment I’ve had so far is…

At a social event—hoping like mad that all my workmates had also dressed up as rock stars on our social club pub crawl—before I walked into the pub we were all meeting at.

Close up of David's face with Gene Simmons make-up, sticking out tongue.

The Gene Simmons stunt double! It won me Best Dressed
at one of our social club fixtures

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is…

It has to be the staff I see walking kilometres with big chainsaws, and loaded with gear, into tracks to cut trees. We have some real work horses out there doing great work.

Most people don’t know I…

A bit gross to some, but most people don’t know that I endured 31 years on and off of having plastic surgery to my face. My nose has been made from skin from my forehead, my top lip is actually 1/3 of my bottom lip, but hey this is me now and I’m amazed at what doctors can do in this field of surgery. This happened due to a type of growth that occurred within a week of birth that wiped out my top lip and nasal area.

My stomping ground is…

Gisborne, known to most as Gizzy. A neat town, off the beaten track some say but the beaches, fishing/diving and weather are tops.

David standing on a large truck full of building supplies.

The project: getting over 150 boxed steps built at Cooks Cove, Tolaga Bay. This is step two of many—weighing and getting all the wood/gravel/building equipment transported, ready for pick up by heli to the work sites. A massive job I got to manage from start to finish

My best ever holiday was…

Taking the wife Anne, and children Jessica and Daniel, over to Surfer’s Paradise last year. What an awesome place.

My greatest sporting moment was when…

I was selected for the North Island Indoor Bowls team in 2003 and then again in 2004. Only 10 men and 10 woman get selected in this team. We lost to the South Island in 2003, but got revenge in 2004.

David holding bowling trophy.

North vs South Island winners 2004

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is…

Live life to the fullest , you never know what is around the corner.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…

Your best friends will be by your side in every way, you will learn fast who your best friends are.

In work and life I am motivated by…

I think in both work and life I’m motivated by doing the very best I can and seeing the rewards after. I’ve been very successful in my sport and education, and have always had employment from the age of 17 (25 years of government service was just achieved in January this year).

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is…

Get out there and see what New Zealand has to offer. Some of the places I have seen (through working at DOC and travelling the country in my sport) are just great.

Question of the week…

‘Question of the week’ will differ each week. If you have any suggestions for questions, please leave us a comment.

Which celebrity would play you in a movie about your life?

I would have to say that I actually need two celebrities: one called Paul Kaye off the film Blackball—a little known comedy about bowls—and his stunt double, a younger Clint Eastwood could jump in, in places, but without without Clyde the Orangutan (off Every Which Way but Loose).