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By Chrissy Wickes, Ranger – Biodiversity in Te Anau

It’s that time of the year when the world turns bright orange and yellow.

Shannon biking along amongst the leaves near Clutha River.

My son Shannon enjoying some autumn riding near the Clutha River

A perfect occasion to put on your helmet and explore the brilliant bike trails in all their autumn glory while it lasts.

There are many trails in the Wanaka area that are golden with fallen leaves. A favourite of mine is the Upper Clutha River track, this follows the Clutha River all the way from the Wanaka lake outlet, under the Albert town bridge and on to Luggate. This track is classified as “intermediate” for mountain bikers.

Three riders getting ready for some autumn riding. Photo: Annette Grieve.

The golden leaves of autumn

You can go as far as you want, lie amongst the autumn leaves, or just take a picnic and sit on the banks of the impressive Mata-Au/Clutha River. The entire track is 21.5 km long, one way.

On the other side of the river are two other great tracks; the Newcastle and Deans Bank for a slightly more challenging ride. These trails were made possible through the partnership of the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust, Bike Wanaka and DOC.

Shannon riding amongst the golden trees near Wanaka.

Shannon amongst the gold and red leaves of autumn

So what are you waiting for? Go plan your ride on the DOC website and find out more information about some fantastic tracks in your area.

Get out there, get amongst it!

Here’s a short, sweet, and perhaps surprising, statistic from DOC’s latest annual report:

14,000 km of track supported by DOC. Enough to walk from Wellington to Washington D.C.

Truth be told, that’s not short at all! But it certainly would be sweet to have the chance to walk it all. Who’s up for the challenge?

Learn more on the DOC website:

Tracks and walks

DOC’s Annual Report for year ended 30 June 2013

Like loads of other New Zealanders (and many visitors to our shores) I love spending time out and about exploring our beautiful national parks, forests and reserves.

When I was growing up, it didn’t matter where we went, the green and yellow DOC signs were always there—an iconic part of holidays, camps, hunting trips and adventures into the bush. However, I never realised the huge job that DOC does to look after so many huts, campsites, tracks and places around the country.

DOC’s recent Annual Report helps shed some light on the range of things DOC looks after and shows how many New Zealanders are getting out and enjoying what’s on offer. Take a look, you might be surprised:

recreation-annual-report-2012-2013

You can also read about what DOC has been doing to look after our historic heritage in last week’s blog post


Check out the DOC website for more information about:

DOC’s latest Annual Report

Parks and recreation

Exploring the Manawatu Gorge tracks has to be at the top of the list of ‘must-do’ activities in the Manawatu region.

This photo was taken by Alistair Thom of Atom Images at Sentinel Lookout which is halfway along the Manawatu Gorge Track.

sentinel-lookout-manawatu-gorge-track-alastair-thom

The shorter Tawa Loop Walk and the full length Manawatu Gorge Track are on offer as part of the Manawatu Walking Festival coming up in February – March 2014.

The festival has walks for all ages and fitness levels, hosted by an array of guides – from historians through to storytellers, nature experts, experienced walkers and photographers – who will share their knowledge to help enhance your walking experience. Visit The Manawatu Walking Festival website to find out more.


Related links

Manawatu Gorge Track
Manawatu Gorge Tawa Loop Walk
Manawatu Walking Festival

By Raoul Island volunteer Katie Grinsted

When there is work to be done on Raoul Island, the most difficult thing is to get the workers to the island. Fortunately for Raoul, the Navy ship Wellington agreed to make the journey.

"E Ihowā Atua..." Flag hoisted to welcome the Navy to Raoul.

“E Ihowā Atua…” Flag hoisted to welcome the Navy to Raoul

Over the last two weeks the population of the island grew, at peak, fluctuating to 33 personnel – that’s more than tripling the population! A party of three GNS (Geological and Nuclear Sciences), two MET (Metservice) and two DOC workers came to complete building work for ten days. Meanwhile, the Navy deployed several work crews to the island for a different training experience and to help DOC out with some track work.

In readiness for their arrival, as with the arrival of any ship to the island, we solemnly raised the New Zealand flag. With a slasher as our weapon of choice we paid homage to her majesty and prepared for the arrival of her NZ Navy representatives.

Late on a Friday evening, the first transmission was heard – “This is Warship Wellington. Warship Wellington calling Raoul Island. Do you copy?”. We copied and from the hostel balcony we watched as the vessel anchored off the picturesque Meyer Islands, the angular grey metal hulk creating a sharp contrast in this place of rugged contour and line.

The Wellington anchored off the Meyer Islands.

The Wellington anchored off the Meyer Islands

This was to be the first of many contrasts. Firstly in communication…

Warship Wellington: “We will contact you on channel one, two, I repeat, channel one, two”
Raoul Island: “But we don’t have a channel one or two. Can you repeat?”
Warship Wellington: “Channel one, two. Twelve! I repeat, twelve!”
Raoul Island: “Ahh, copy that.”

Then in timing…

Warship Wellington: “We will begin operations at sixteen hundred and thirty, I repeat”
Raoul Island: “Sixteen hundred and thirty? Oh, you mean, four thirty? That sounds sweet.”

After sorting out some of these finer details, the unloading of the ship began. The new ‘Civies’ (civilians) set about to their building work. DOC worked hard to build a new quarantine shed…

Biosecurity at its finest! The new quarantine shed.

Biosecurity at its finest! The new quarantine shed

GNS checked their monitoring equipment around the island and completed some building work, while the MET builders slaved away putting new doors onto the ‘bomb shed’ (the place where the weather balloons are released).

What mighty fine doors! The new doors on the bomb shed.

What mighty fine doors! The new doors on the bomb shed

Meanwhile, the ship had kindly invited the volunteers out to the Wellington for lunch. It was a thrill to get up some speed on the boat ride over, as anything over 15k/hr is extreme here!

The need for speed! Speeding out to the Wellington for lunch.

The need for speed! Speeding out to the Wellington for lunch

It was fascinating to get an insight into a totally different way of life. We unanimously agreed that none of us could handle living in such confined quarters.

When the first Navy team arrived we all had to have a little giggle. In ripped shorts and faded t-shirts we Raoulites shook hands with the smartly dressed Navy in their slick ‘GWD’ (General Work Dress).

A well dressed arrival. The Navy arriving at Raoul Island.

A well dressed arrival. The Navy arriving at Raoul Island

After an amount of time taken up with the necessary Navy briefings, the shore crews worked hard and with good humour to carry out their latest ‘deployment’ – slashing and raking of cyclone damaged tracks.

A clear way through. The Navy hard at work clearing Raoul's tracks.

A clear way through. The Navy hard at work clearing Raoul’s tracks

Each team enjoyed the opportunity to eat as many cakes and biscuits as they liked, and even had the chance to have two different kinds of meat dishes for dinner!

Raoul Navy crew take a break

Raoul Navy crew take a break

Although I struggled at times to stop myself singing, “In the Navy, we can sail the seven seas, in the Navy!”, I believe both the Raoulites and the Navy benefited greatly from the experience of the past two weeks. All those who came onto the island seemed to leave with a smile on their face, and no doubt, with as many stories to tell about us as we do about them!

So on Sunday the Wellington departed, leaving eight exhausted Raoulites waving goodbye at the flagpole. It had been an eventful, and at times challenging two weeks. By far the hardest part of it all has been the departure of our dear friend and colleague Dave, who left for home on the Navy ship. He is already sorely missed but we all wish him the best of luck and look forward to seeing him on the mainland. For him, the Raoul Salute.

One final swim off Fishing Rock.

The Raoul Salute – one final swim off Fishing Rock

As the Navy departed we raised a renegade skull and crossbones in tribute to Dave. Ragged and painted on an old bed sheet, once again we saw the contrast to the Navy ship. But, somehow it seems to fit the character of the island and of its inhabitants.

The Danger Dave flag is hoisted.

The Raoul Salute – one final swim off Fishing Rock


Interested in becoming a volunteer on Raoul Island?

DOC is currently recruiting for volunteers for August 2013 to February 2014 now. See www.doc.govt.nz/raoulvolunteers for more information.

Cornelia Vervoorn from DOC’s Franz Josef/Waiau Area Office shares photos from the recent repair of a bridge damaged by flood on the West Coast.

After a flood you can sometimes find DOC bridges washed miles from their original positions. What is more unusual is to find them in the same place but rotated 90 degrees.

The bridge on Lake Ellery Track that was damaged by flood.

The bridge appears to have made a 90 degree turn

We think that is what happened with the heavy rain a wee while back. The river backed up as the lake level rose slowly, gently lifting the bridge and turning it, rather than destroying it as normally happens!

This bridge is located on the Lake Ellery Track, south of Haast. The water level during the flooding was at head height for a person standing on the track.

DOC rangers fix the bridge on the Lake Ellery Track.

DOC rangers get to work fixing the bridge

The flood lifted the bridge and the concrete block it was attached to! The mystery of the moving bridge reminded some people of the magical moving staircases in the fictional world of Harry Potter.

The magical moving staircase in Harry Potter.

The mystery of the moving bridge was not as magical as some thought.

DOC rangers Cheryl and John have fixed it now and are pretty pleased about it as you’ll see!

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DOC rangers Cheryl and John after fixing the bridge.