May Wanderings

A School Environment Day at Rabbit Island
We were asked if we would like to be part of and environmental education day for Nelson and Tasman schools at Rabbit Island for years 5 to 8 students. The object was for students to learn a little about environmental sustainability in a sort of challenge competition. School teams came from around the district calling on the different ‘stations’ to take note of what each station did and why etc., with the idea for each group to work together as a team, to fill in their booklet, and answer a question.

We came up with about five small jars with smell holes on the top and in each jar was a different smell which the students had to identify. These were some of the different baits that we used on our traplines. They ranged from apple, peanut butter, to a cinnamon and some very smelly baits. Once the baits were identified they then had to place each different bait to suit the different types of traps that we used.

Demonstrating the workings of the various traps at Moturoa mission

Demonstrating the workings of the various traps at Moturoa mission.

The smell section was the most amusing, especially the pulled faces when the smelly baits were sniffed, and they caused a most animated discussion. It was interesting to note that the girls were quick to sort out the paperwork while the boys were most interested in how each trap worked and what pests we caught. Hopefully they will all be motivated later in life to continue our work in restoring our wildlife and wild places.

Ngawhatu Return Visit
Although our walking group had walked around parts this old orphanage, turned mental hospital last year we thought another visit worthwhile before all the old buildings disappeared to make way for new residential homes. Beginning as an orphanage in 1872, to a school for bad little boys (1910-1920) to a mental hospital from 1920 until about 1998, the main Ngawhatu Valley runs up to the Richmond Hills which housed the males while another valley heading south, house the females. The worst offenders were quartered higher up the valley — the further away the better?

Ngawhatu abandoned quarters


Only two hostels of the six remain, Clovelly and Airdrie, although giving into gradual deterioration and no doubt they will soon succumb to bulldozers. In this the male valley, the administration building was still in use while the swimming pool and lawn bowling greens are used by clubs. There was still an odd house here and there, some abandoned and one at least, was still lived in. We walked up the female accommodated York Valley, and although the roads are still there, nearly all the buildings are gone. York Valley also had six hostels.

Some of our group had worked here many years ago and told of escapees and even of a skeleton found under some floor boards. Fancy hiding away and then starving to death. Perhaps to that persons mind it was an escape.

A Pig Valley Walk

Pig Valley.

Pig Valley view.

Nice name for a valley? We went there and walked over a farm that was a farm but also served as a tree seed bank for a local nursery. Scattered over the farm we passed a number of different specimen trees with many flouting their autumn colours. Sheep and cattle grazed the paddocks with a pine production forest growing on along the boundary. Just a bit of a hilly farm walk really but nice walking though the trees but we didn’t see any pigs.

Amelia & Reece at Wainui Hut

Amelia & Reece at Wainui Hut.

Wainui Hut and Track Circuit

Shirl was on a bus trip up the North Island so I joined up with my son Richard and his children (Amelia and Reece) and also with daughter Karla drove up the Takaka Hill and then out to Canaan. At the end of the road and car park, we headed off up the track towards Moa Park passing over the Wainui Saddle. This was in Abel Tasman National Park. After awhile we came to the junction of the Inland Track where we turned to head towards Awapoto, along the Evans Ridge. After about 2 to 3 kilometres walking we turned off the ridge track and went down a steep track to the Wainui River. Once here we turned upstream and in a little while came to the Wainui Hut and had lunch. A nice little clearing with the hut in the middle. It’s one of the old type huts, not the fancy things DoC are now building so, apart from the gaudy colour, it fitted well into the setting. Nearby was a wire cage and buildings that looked like a type of hen house. It was set up to house some native parakeets brought in from bird sanctuaries nearby for them to acclimatise before being released in the clearing. It was part of a program to re-introduce native birds into the park after an intensive trapping period for pests like stoats, weasels, possums and rats. We did hear some parakeet chattering in the distance too.

Canaan fungi

Canaan fungi.

On the way back up to Wainui Saddle we passed a chap with a dog (muzzled) who was working for the trapping people. The dog sniffed out native Blue Duck (or Whio) whose chicks, and even the adults, get killed by stoats and such. Trapping is essential for them to survive and the dog was used to see how the ducks were getting on. After the recent rains, we were not surprised to spot a number of different types of fungus along the track too.

Up Will’s Gully


Before clearance begins.


After: clearance.

There is much progress on the upper K-Slope. The pest weeds have been mowed down by council contractors but we still have to clear all the vine roots and such away. Once this is done we can then continue with the planting of natives. The new track is slowly winding its way up and although not at all finished, people are already using it. The lower bush section is now cleared and 215 native   plants are already in and growing. With the help of my small band of volunteers, we hope to have the area all cleared and planted by the end of winter.

Recently I had a request to show an elderly walking group around the gully but the weather didn’t look very good. Expecting the walk to be called off, I still went along at the start of the track just in case someone did turn up. I was surprised when I found about 10 to 12 people waiting all ready to go!

Twin Gums discussion

Guiding duties in Will’s Gully.

I do get a number of requests to guide groups of people around the tracks in the gully. During the walk I tell of the work that’s gone in over the years by the volunteers with the weed clearing, re-planting and all the trapping. I’ve learnt a lot about the best method of clearing and which are the best native species to grow as to suit volunteer workers for maintenance and such. I usually take visitors along some of the service tracks that we have made just for something different and this does show the extent of the work that has been done over the years in which one doesn’t see walking the main public tracks. It all helps to spread the word about conservation.

Nervous Shakes
Late April at home, we felt quite a large earthquake – magnitude 4 point something on the Richter Scale. It was centred around Molesworth, so not too far away. I heard this roaring noise and was just wondering what it was and then the house shook. Not a violent shake but a deep steady one. I was just thinking, when’s this going to stop and then a there was a rolling motion. In all, it might have been over five to six seconds but it sure felt a lot longer. It would have been the second most longest that I’ve felt anyway. No damage though, thank goodness.

I had a birthday this month. It’s hard to remember how old I am as the number keeps changing every year.
Rainfall for March at our place was 112mm (average for that month 76mm) and April’s was 111mm and the average for April is 137mm. Over those months last year the rainfall was 120mm and 203mm respectively.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *