Archives For Southland

In the depths of the South Island, where Moa and Moose still roam, Jill Hetherington tells a tale of two employees who have brought in 2,000 work days of conservation effort. 

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Looking for the perfect summer adventure? Escape the city and head to the bottom of the world. Here are the top 7 things to do in Western Southland.

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Des Williams.

Des Williams

By Des Williams, DOC Communications Advisor

I was especially proud of my old home town—Tuatapere, in Western Southland—when I returned for a rare visit on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

A little glade through the Tuatapere Scenic Reserve was resplendent with several large flowerings of Peraxilla colensoi which is more commonly known as scarlet mistletoe.


Scarlet mistletoe at Tuatapere Scenic Reserve

I have never seen such brilliant colour in the reserve before—mind you I am never there at this time of year.

DOC’s Invercargill-based botanist/ecologist, Brian Rance, told me that this part of the reserve is a noted site (and so close to the road), as are other parts of the reserve around the Tuatapere Domain.

So, I now add scarlet mistletoe to the broad sweep of Te Waewae Bay, the Hump Ridge and Fiordland mountains, the Longwoods silver beech forest and Takitimu Mountains as icons of my birth place!

Longwoods silver beech forest at Tuatapere. Photo: Alastair Morrison.

Longwoods silver beech forest at Tuatapere

In April, 11-year-old Summer Jubb tackled the mighty Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park after her family won the experience as part of DOC’s involvement in the Venture Southland campaign.

Summer and her dad conquered the whole track in some challenging weather. Her mum, Mel, plus younger sisters, 9-year-old Poppy and 6-year-old Bella, met up with them at Luxmore Hut and Moturau Huts during their adventure.

Summer writes:

Let me tell you about my experiences on the ridges and valleys of the Kepler Track.

Summer on the Kepler Track with mountainous peaks.

Summer high up on the Kepler Track

The first day was so much up hill — it just kept going up, up, up. About three quarters of the way up there were limestone boulders. They were so high and huge that it made me feel very small.

Summer Jubb and her family walking through bush on the Kepler Track.

Walking, up, up and up!

The bearded forest (that’s what we called it) was amazing— there were drips of moss hanging off the trees that looked like a beards.

When we finally got to Luxmore Hut we were exhausted, but we still had enough energy to go for a 10 minute walk to the Luxmore Caves. They are amazing! Then I found out that food is really, really good when you are cold and hungry.

Jubb family photo by a DOC sign on the Kepler Track.

Family photo on the Kepler Track

I think the second day was the best. It was first up hill then in the alpine and ridges of the mountains. I loved the part when you are on the top lookout, when you can see everything below you. When there is an hour and a half to go it is all down, down, down. There are 97 switch backs and 24 stoat traps to count along the way. Finally there was Iris Burn Hut. There is a river just by the hut that you can go swimming in, it is quite cold though. As well as the river there is an amazing waterfall that’s 20 minutes away from the hut.

Summer high up on a ridge along the Kepler Track.

Along a ridge on the Kepler Track

Thankfully, the third day is all flat. There were these gorgeous purple mushrooms along the way. At Moturau hut there is a lake that is just warm enough to swim in and cool down your feet.

A misty valley on the Kepler Track.

A misty valley

I loved all my experiences on the great four day walk known as the Kepler Track. It was awesome to do with my family.

John Robinson who took this picture while mountain biking beside Lake Hāwea, in Hāwea Conservation Park, Otago.

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By Philippa Christie, Community Relations Ranger, Murihiku Area Office

The Port Craig Hut began its life in 1926 as a school house in what was once a busy sawmilling settlement run by the Malborough Timber Company. At its peak, over 150 employees ran the mill and processed up to 1800 cubic metres of timber per month.

Greg outside Port Craig Hut preparing a window.

Volunteer Greg prepares a window to fit at Port Craig Hut

It was the largest and most modern sawmill in New Zealand at the time.

The settlement also had a blacksmith’s shop, a wharf, a cook shop, a bake house, and accommodation for the workers. While many remnants remain of these buildings and the sawmilling machinery, the school house is the only intact building that remains.

As the depression approached, demand for timber declined and the business venture struggled until it finally failed and closed in 1928.

Paul preparing the Port Craig Hut window frame for a replacement.

Paul preparing the Port Craig Hut window frame for a replacement

The school house saw less than four year’s use, and began its second life as a tramping hut in the 1960s.

The commitment, knowledge and skills of two volunteers have helped keep this historically important hut in Southern Fiordland weather tight and true to its original fabric.

An annual volunteer trip is run to carry out maintenance of the school house and surrounding relics from the saw milling era. This year the wooden exterior of the 86 year old building was showing signs of wear and the windows needed replacing.

Two volunteers—Greg Clark and Paul Clements—offered their time and skills to the project. Greg is a joiner by trade and built new windows for the school house from scratch. Paul glazed and painted the windows and transported them from his home in Dunedin. Not only did they construct the windows, they were onsite to carefully install them.

The volunteers standing on a bridge.

Volunteers standing on the historic Percy Burn Viaduct in 2010

Paul has been involved in conservation volunteer trips for over 15 years, and during that time has made a considerable contribution in both time and monetary value to the historic heritage of the Port Craig area. He is also involved in manning the DOC stall at the annual Crank Up Days held in Edendale, and eagerly passes on his knowledge of historic areas and relics that DOC Southland manages.

Greg’s grandfather, Archie Clark, in 1940 built the last remaining split beech log hut in Fiordland—aptly named the Clark Hut. Greg’s interest in conservation and volunteering began when he was invited to help restore a wall section of the hut in 2010. He has also been involved in making replacement windows for Becketts Hut in the Takitimu Mountains.

Paul and Greg are shining examples of how volunteers are contributing to increased gains in the conservation of our natural, historic and cultural heritage.

Greg outside another historic hut that required maintenance.

Greg at the historic Clark Hut

Blue chip technology

Sam O'Leary —  14/09/2009

Technology these days.. It’s all about Twitter right? or blogging, High Definintion, Bluetooth.. or some sort of fandangle GPS system that seems to do all the work for us. What happened to the traditional electronics? You know – circuits, soldering irons and LEDs.. All that stuff..

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