Archives For Wakatipu

DOC Wakatipu staff and the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust came together in January to promote conservation at the Lake Hayes A&P Show.

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By Daniel Deans, Department of Conservation Intern

This year, for the New Year’s break, my friend and I decided that we’d had enough of big cities, flashing lights and inebriated masses, and that what we were really craving was some space, fresh air, and waking up to the unmistakable smell of a tent.

A blue tent at 12 Mile Delta campsite.

Waking up to the unmistakable smell of a tent

So camping, we decided, would be the plan of attack this New Year.

We grabbed two more friends and scoured the DOC website for a suitable campsite, and settled on 12 Mile Delta, around 20 minutes from Queenstown.

While the campsite itself isn’t exactly the lap of luxury, the lakeside beaches and the stunning views of the Remarkables certainly made it well worth the $6 a night.

Sitting by the lake.

Relaxing by the lake

We spent four days camped by the bush, being woken by the ‘whoosh-whoosh’ of kereru flapping overhead. When the sun took the courtesy to appear, we took several dips in the rather icy Lake Wakatipu, including a swim at the idyllic, azure blue Bob’s Cove.

Amazing mountain views from 12 Mile Delta campsite.

Out in the fresh air

A good walk from the campsite took us to Lake Dispute, nestled in a valley between some rugged looking mountains.

When the rain did arrive (which was unfortunately rather frequently), we retreated to the tent and busted out the Monopoly (in which I discovered, rather too late, that everyone else had been cheating, and I’m still bitter). The rest of the time was spent lying on the lakeside with a good book and a glass of wine, or strumming away on the guitar.

Beautiful blue lake and mountain views.


The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly New Year’s Eve. Rather than face the chaotic madness of Queenstown itself, we took our sleeping bags down to the lake front to stare at the stars and listen to the lapping of the lake. When it hit midnight, we could see the flashes of light in the distance as the Queenstown fireworks went off, and heard the occasional thundering boom. All in all, it was exactly the kind of New Year’s break we were looking for!

Jumping into Lake Wakatipu.

Taking a dip

Today’s photo of the week was taken on the Rees-Dart Track, a 4-5 day tramping circuit which follows the Rees River and the Dart River through farmland and the southern part of Mount Aspiring National Park.

A massive landslide recently cut off tramping access through the Dart Valley.

Tramping in the Dart Valley. Photo: Keith Miller.

An alternative temporary track was opened on Monday which has restored tramping access. Trampers are advised to stick to the alternative route at all times for their safety.

The track provides great views of the lake and landslide from this route, particularly on Sandy Bluff.

This photo was taken by Keith Miller | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Always helpful and friendly, Anna Humphries, a Department of Conservation Community Relations Ranger, knows her stuff when it comes to working with film crews in one of the most popular filming and tourist destinations in New Zealand.

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She always has her wits about her as she protects the environment, whilst allowing filmmakers the freedom to roam our beautiful wilderness.

Anna chilling out in Middle Earth

Anna chilling out in Middle Earth

Anna is one of three community relations rangers in the Wakatipu area. Each year she processes around 80 one off permits, including those for local and international film projects, helping the film makers get the footage they need without damaging the environment or impacting on the rights of other people using the area either recreationally or for business.

Recce day in the Passburn Valley – looking for good places to land.

Recce day in the Passburn Valley – looking for good places to land

She is always quick off the mark with ‘out of the box’ solutions to problems faced by crews, to help make filming go smoothly.

She is featured in a nationwide Film New Zealand advertising campaign highlighting the crucial role skilled New Zealanders working outside the screen industry played in the production of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and the success of the New Zealand screen industry in general.

The film crew of the Hobbit waits for the rain to stop

The film crew of the Hobbit waits for the rain to stop

“I know I should be flattered, but it’s a little mortifying none the less!” Anna says. But she still thinks working with film crews is fun.

“I never knew what they’d be asking me to consider next but they’re very professional. They understand our conditions and will go that extra mile to meet them,” she says.

Film New Zealand CEO Gisella Carr, says that if there was an award for ‘Best Supporting Country’ New Zealand would win hands down.

Dwarves enjoy the view

Dwarves enjoy the view

“It took more than cast, crew and producers to make The Hobbit Trilogy happen. It took a huge supporting role from everyday New Zealanders like Anna who did their jobs with enthusiasm and great skill,” Gisella said.

She says the sheer magnitude of the impact a production has on a country like New Zealand is clearly illustrated by recently released statistics. These showed that due to the filming of The Hobbit:

• 99 sets were built
• 6750 domestic flights were taken
• 19 commercial properties were leased long term
• 93,000 hotel bed nights were sold
• 1800 rental cars were hired
• 1650 work vehicles were used
• $380,000 was spent on coffee
• $9,180,000 was spent on set construction materials (with local suppliers)
• approximately 16,000 days were worked by New Zealand actors
• $1,450,000 was spent with local food suppliers

She says New Zealand is known as one of the most ‘film-friendly’ countries in the world.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in cinemas now.

Every Friday Jobs at DOC will take you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

Today we profile Programme Manager, Barry Lawrence, who died at home last Wednesday after a short battle with cancer. Never one to blow his own trumpet, we decided to do it for him…

Barry in the field with the mōhua he worked so hard to protect

An active member of the Wakatipu Environmental Society since the 1980s, two-term councillor with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, mayoral candidate, school teacher, dry stone dyker, shearer, DOC volunteer and most recently DOC Biodiversity Programme Manager, Barry’s contribution to the community and conservation over the last 30 years has been enormous.

As a councillor, he drew up the provisions of the 1995 District Plan controlling subdivision and protecting local landscape values. Out of the office he became a staunch protector of these values, spending countless voluntary hours preparing submissions and appearing at the Environment Court.

The importance of this work and the regard that Barry was held in was recognised in 2008, when he was awarded the Queen Service Medal for services ‘to local body affairs and the environment’.

Barry was a great teacher, shown here teaching colleagues how to mist net

The 1990s saw Barry unleash his passion for species and habitat protection, firstly by developing and staffing the first DOC volunteer mōhua and bat survey projects in the Dart and the Caples. Subsequently employed full time as Programme Manager Bio-Assets in 2002, Barry grew this work into much larger-scale pest tracking, trapping, treatment and bird monitoring programmes, the results of which we all enjoy today.

Barry and Ray Molloy at a local 1080 operation

Great examples of Barry’s relentless pursuit of restoring and maintaining the natural environment in the Wakatipu include protecting mōhua; saving bat habitat from development proposals in the Routeburn; getting a local power company to get on board with falcon research; demonstrating the importance of farm shrublands to falcon habitat; working with a local jet boat operator to fund research into black-fronted terns in the Dart and the Rees; and most recently developing a host of sites for kōwhai plantings.

Barry in his element – an evening filled with friends, stories, food and drink (and a giant haggis!)

In addition to all of Barry’s species and habitat protection, he also led the Area’s RMA advocacy work. With his considerable prior knowledge and skill in this field he was able to secure all manner of gains, large and small, through the process. The recent agreement with a Queenstown property developer to remove a 50 hectare block of mature wilding pines seeding the upper Shotover is a great example of Barry both seeing, and more importantly, seizing the opportunity.

A happy Barry – post beer and looking a bit woolly

Despite all of this work, it is many of Barry’s other more personal attributes that friends and family will remember him by – his ability to cut to the nub of complex issues (1080 being one), his big laugh, long hours in the field, a love of whiskey, beer, cider and Jimmies mutton pies, the DOC staff pig farming collective and his all together far too animated story telling (while driving) on dodgy trips up to Macetown, are just some of the many things we’ll all miss!

Put really simply, as Barry liked things put, he was good fun to be around. He is survived by his wife Pauline and daughters Rebecca and Meg and will be greatly missed.

Check out Barry on YouTube in this Shrublands Foodstore for NZ Falcon clip.