April 2013

We joined our walking group to further explore some of the new tracks in the reserve. It starts off in a valley about 800 metres across from ridge to ridge then further upstream, the main valley turns and is fed by a number of smaller streams to form quite an area of steepish bush covered hills. The first part is regenerating native bush but it is surprising to see the number of young native seedlings growing alongside the tracks. The 80 km of tracks have been formed mainly I think, to service the extensive traplines and there is quite a network of these. Around about 17000 pests have been killed within the last six years. The track making team of volunteers certainly have done a good job especially with the stone work that forms some of the track sides. They are certainly not footpaths but they are well formed tracks and do the job very well. We left the visitor centre, walking along one of these tracks to gradually rise up the hill to follow a contour for awhile then dropping down to the main creek, then rising fairly steeply to come out at Third House in time for lunch. Back down the old railway line track to the cars and the visitor centre. The trust plans to build a pest proof fence of 14km right around 700 ha of the reserve, at an estimated cost of $4.7million.  There has been quite a bit of ‘discussion’ about the viability of the venture but now having raised $2.8million they are well on the way. I think the main concern seems to be that if the trust falls over, the taxpayer will be expected to pick up the tab as what seems to be happening with the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington. Right now though, The Brook are selling posts for the fence. One can sponsor a fence post for between $100 to $5000 depending on how close the post is to the entrance.

McKee Reserve to Kina
The tide has to be right on this walk especially if returning the sameApril Richmond Diary 2 way. The eroded cliffs had the odd pine tree precariously upright with their roots hanging free making one wonder just when they would topple.  Along the beach we came across a number of dead small stingrays which we think were Eagle Rays. Beyond the cliffs and towards Kina the stumps of plantation pine are left standing in the sand with their roots exposed  looking somewhat like a group of octopus ready to run to the sea as soon as you looked away. We had lunch at the end of the peninsular looking over to Jacket Island. There and back was a walk of roughly 16 kilometres. The ice-cream at Mapua while watching the ferry ply across to Rabbit Island finished off the day.

A Guided Tour of the Gully
Mid-April I took thirty people from the Motueka 50 Plus Walking Group on a tour of the gully explaining the progress, the clearing, the planting, the trapping and some of the features. The group was too large really but that’s how many turned up. I led them along some of the service tracks, going here and there and very soon, most didn’t know where they were! Hopefully they all enjoyed it and were made aware of what’s going on in just one of the valleys on the Richmond Hills.

Will’s Valley Progress
Up the valley good progress has been made with the planting well under way. Two hundred and seven plants  in the ground so far and these being my own and a donation of 78 from friends.
The big result has been a new boundary fence on the northern side installed by the present class of trainee rangers from the Nelson Marlborough Technical Institute. The area of the valley is only about 6 acres but to give an idea of some of the steepness of it all; if it was flattened out it would come to something like 20 acres!  So one can perhaps imagine what it might be like to run a new fence along one of the  boundaries.

Floods and in the News Again
Let’s hope this is not going to be a regular happening as I’m sure Richmond residents just don’t want to be in the news like this. It was a heavy drop no doubt, very local and just about a wall of water coming down. Something like 100mm in an hour, and driving through it, I’d say most windscreen wipers wouldn’t be able to cope but travel April Richmond Diary 3towards the airport about 4 to 5 kilometres away, and one could turn the wipers off! But back behind the curtain of water in our street, there was a new fast flowing river rushing downhill. It soon spilled over into some people’s property and we had a small stream running down one side of our house. I wondered just where it was coming from so waded up into the street above and found that a manhole cover had been removed by the force of the water, with a fountain gushing up to about 400mm high. About half an hour later all the water had gone. Unfortunately some people in low lying areas had their homes flooded and the main street in the village was awash and many shops suffering too. Most were open the next day though. A bonus for the carpet cleaning and heater hiring people.  An ill wind?
Up the gully I expected the worse but although the stream had cut into the track at a couple of places near the stream crossing, all was pretty good. I did lose some plants that I had placed beside the stream higher up. They had disappeared and a number of plants that had recently been planted out had to be replanted but the worst was discovering that six donated lemonwoods had be stolen. It would be a just reward to have some of the floodwaters pour through the thief’s house! I found an animal bone up there and I thought of fixing it to a board with the writing “Remains of a person who stole some plants”.
Perhaps  not – it might be me that gets into trouble!

March rainfall at our place was 85mm which was a little above the March monthly average of 72mm.

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