Tongariro Times August 2013

Tongariro Times August 2013

2013 AGM Weekend at Forest & Bird Lodge, Whakapapa Village

Join us for the 2013 Project Tongariro AGM weekend staying Friday 11th and/or Saturday 12th October 2013 at Forest & Bird Lodge in Whakapapa Village.  The AGM will be held on Saturday 12th October 2013 from 11am followed by a main meal and desert.  In the evening Project Tongariro will present and update on current projects followed by the presentation of two interesting DVDs about Tongariro National Park by Australian Geographic Outdoor and Wilderness NZ.

On Sunday morning, Kaye Rabarts will lead a mini field trip exploring some of the surrounding historic sites.

X 2 nights + Meal

X 1 night + Meal

Meal Only

Bring your own sleeping bag, pillow case, towel and toilet gear.  BYO Friday night meal plus breakfasts, lunches and drinks.  Tea, coffee, milk and pre-dinner nibbles are provided.  Note: 32 beds only and beds are booked on a first in basis.

Schedule & Details:

Friday eveningArrive Forest & Bird Lodge Whakapapa Village and get settled if staying Friday night.  Cater own dinner.Saturday morningCater own breakfast.
Explore on your own or in small groups.Saturday 11amAGM at Forest & Bird Lodge
Saturday 1pmCater own lunch.Saturday afternoonExplore on your own or in small groups.
Executive meetingSaturday 530pmPre-dinner drinks (BYO) at Forest & Bird Lodge
Saturday 630pmDinner at Forest & Bird Lodge,  main meal including dessert by Food with Altitude Catering.  Please indicate any dietary requirements when you book online by adding to the 'additional comments' box.
Saturday 730pmPresentation: Project Tongariro Current Projects Update followed by DVDs by Australian Geographic Outdoor and Wilderness NZ
Sunday morningCater own breakfast.Sunday 9.30amMini field trip led by Kaye Rabarts visiting surrounding historic sites.

For more info contact


Rotopounamu Forest Restoration Update

The Restoring Rotopounamu  project has been very active over the 2013 winter. 

In June, the Animal Health Board undertook an aerial 1080 poisoning operation to control possums, which should mean that the possum population is now very low.  Aerial 1080 here is essential to maintain the possum and deer populations at very low levels, both priority goals within the restoration plan. This control is essential for the on-going success of the Restoring Rotopounamu project and the cost of it is far greater than what Project Tongariro could undertake by itself.  

Aerial 1080 often very effectively control rats so monitoring the rat population was undertaken both prior to and after the operation.  Over the first week of the school holidays, Project Tongariro volunteers, DOC staff and three year-13 young women from Taupo-nui-a-tia College undertook the rat tracking. The results from the rat tracking show the population falling from 12.8% in May (pre) to 1.4% (post) rat tracking. This should result in a highly productive bird breeding season over the coming spring and summer throughout the entire Mt Pihanga and Rotopounamu area.

Project Tongariro has also been increasing the area of predator control.  Robyn Ellis has been marking trap lines.  DOC and Nick Singers have been helping her clear the tracks so that they are easy to follow.  Over winter school holidays we also put some of these traps out in some of the easier locations and plan to put the rest out on 7th September 2013 (see below). This predator control will mean that once all the traps are established we should be effectively controlling stoats, weasels and ferrets over approximately 1500 hectares, which should result in an increase in kakariki and hopefully kaka.  It also means that species like weka and brown teal could potentially be reintroduced. These traps will be checked monthly from September to March to coincide with the bird breeding season which will be done by Project Tongariro volunteers, summer interns and contractors if necessary.


Saturday 7 September 2013 for work at Rotopounamu

Meet at DOC in Turangi at 8.15am

We need volunteers to help place 150 predator trap boxes along the new trap lines at Rotopounamu.  These traps will be shortly flown on site by helicopter in bundles of 10 traps and we need volunteers to then carry these to trap sites already marked.  We have already got team leaders to lead each group and other people offering to help however,  we ideally need eight teams of four people so we are looking for another 16 people to complete it all in one day.

To make this easier, we have sourced lots of large trap-carrying packs so each group will have at least one pack (these can carry about three traps). The traps are quite large and weigh about 5kg each and only fit into the older wide-mouthed packs like Mountain Mules or Halmark Everests, so if you have one of these bring it along.  Each team needs to distribute about 20 traps.  We hope to be finished by mid-afternoon.  You need to be fairly fit for this activity.  You also need have your own food, drink, warm and wet-weather clothing and good boots.

We plan to have something to eat and drink afterwards when we finish.

If you are keen to help, contact either Nick Singers (07) 386 7755 or Kiri Te Wano (07) 386 6499.


Oruatua Restoration Project Update
by Shirley Potter

Late last year we were successful in gaining a Taupo Rotary community funding grant.  We received $500 for the purchase of DOC 200 traps to extend our trapping network in the Oruatua Conservation area.

As the area encompasses some permanent wetland we were able to purchase the traps at a competitive rate through Pete Devlin and the Waterfowl Enhancement Trust.

The red dots on the map represent existing DOC 200 traps. The blue dots are approximately where we put out Rotary traps in mid May. The white dots show our tracking tunnel line. Orange stars show where we will place traps with the additional funding just received from a DOC Conservation Support Fund.

This project started in 2007 with two enthusiastic Society members looking to reduce pests around their home. Shirley Potter and Karen Ardin (Ardy) are running the trap network, with some help from Collette Taylor. The trap lines were initially a collection of homemade boxes and self-funded rat traps. In 2010 funding was received from Environment Waikato which enabled the purchase of 50 DOC 200s and a more formal trap network to be set up.

Anecdotal evidence from locals tells of increased native bird numbers. Our experience from spending time in the bush has shown regrowth of natives, such as five finger, pate and mahoe which was devoured by possums previously. Kereru have been seen in greater numbers (still not large however), also fantails and whiteheads. Whiteheads and kereru are regular visitors to our garden in Tuki St, something that had never been seen before this trapping began. As time allows, we are killing as many pest plants as we can, namely hawthorn, berberis, himalayan honeysuckle, cotoneaster, willows, pines etc.

Collette Taylor, a local resident and teacher at Hilltop School, has 4 DOC 200s in the reserve backing on to Huehue Parade which complement our trapping. In 2010, Collette’s William Pike Challenge students, known as “The Pikelettes” raised money to buy these traps and they also worked on removing a patch of tradescantia from the reserve.

Currently there is a group of 80 weedbusters from Hilltop School carrying out some study work, including a large pest plant removal project. It’s very exciting to have such a big group helping in “our patch” making a huge difference. I was saddened on their first visit that many of the children had no idea what a native plant was and what a pest plant was. That ignorance is a thing of the past now and they are educating their parents and others! These wonderful weedbusters have worked Incredibly hard clearing a large area of broom and cotoneaster off Oruatua Ave and another patch of tradescantia behind Huehue Parade. They have already sourced native trees for replanting this season. Take a walk along the DOC track off Oruatua Ave and check out their amazing work.

We are happy to report that locals are allowing treatment of invasive pest plants on their property such as flowering cherry, cotoneaster, artillery plant, tradescantia etc.



























































































Results for all trapping carried out by Shirley and Ardy from 2007 to July 2013.

Shirley Potter and William Brightwell label Rotary Funded traps


Additional funding of $500 has just been granted from the DOC Conservation Support Fund. With this additional windfall a further 7 DOC 200 traps will be purchased.


Upcoming Field Trip - Waipapa Ecological Area Dawn Chorus

Trip leader: Nick Singers

Date: 23/24 November 2013

Waipapa Ecological Area was protected to preserve its magnificent podocarp forest of rimu, matai, kahikatea, totara and miro as well as wildlife such as kokako and kaka. It is situated about 10m north of Pureora Village. The area has been under sustainable pest control to protect kaka and kokako for over 20 years; it has the largest population of kaka in the North Island. Last December Nick did this trip with his family and heard kaka singing almost continuously for 4 hours. He also saw and listened to kokako and other forest birds present.  I rated this experience as good as going to an off-shore predator-free island.  We had perfect conditions in a warm and clear morning so the birds were very loud.

Everyone needs to be self-contained for this trip, so you need to bring all your food, tents, sleeping bags etc.

Travel to Pureora Village on Saturday afternoon or evening.  (As a family we did this in the dark after dinner). Pitch tents. and then sleep until 4.30am (Sunday) at which time Nick will rudely awaken you if necessary! Pack up and drive 10 minutes to Ranginui Road (off SH30) to the Waipapa Ecological Area aiming to get there around 5am. The walk starts off Ranginui Road about 1km from SH30. The plan is to quietly walk about 2km along this track, sitting and listening to the birds as we go.  Being quiet is essential for a good experience. The track is a very basic bait-station track and involves walking over wind-falls.  You will need a good head torch for this initially.  We stopped on a ridge to listen to and watch a pair of kokako for 30minutes.  We aim to be back at the cars by morning tea for either brunch or a cuppa and biscuits.

For those of you wanting to do other activities there are lots of other walks and a new mountain bike track  “The Timber Trail” to explore.

Contact Nick Singers on 

2013 Memorial Award Recipients

The 2013 Memorial Award recipients have been selected.  As always Project Tongariro is pleased to be able to assist students in their research projects.  This year there are 4 recipients.  They are:

Benjamin Simons 
'The Deposit Characteristics and Explosive Eruption Processes of Blue Lake Crater, Tongariro' - Waikato University - WU MSc Candidate

Rebecca Fitzgerald 
'Te Maari Eruptions 2012: Field and Experimental Assessments of Ballistic Block-fall Hazard' - University of Canterbury - CU MSc Candidate

Chris Conway
'The magmatic and glaciovolcanic evolution of Ruapehu volcano' - Victoria University of Wellington - VUW PhD candidate

Eric Breard
'Exploding the pyroclastic density currents enigma: comparison with high-mobility PDCs from the August 6 2012 Upper Te Maari eruption' - Massey University - MU PhD Candidate

More info on these projects will be in the next newsletter.

2013-14 Calendar

We are in the process of finalising the 2013-14 calendar of events, activities and volunteer opportunities.  If you have something you would like included, or if you would like to lead a field trip, please get in touch with Kiri on asap.

We will publish the calendar in the next newsletter so you can all book in the key dates for the upcoming season.


Greening Taupo Update

Greening Taupo, a project made possible by Project Tongariro was officially launched last month with the Contact Energy Community Planting Day.  A big thank you to everyone who participated.  It was awesome to see so many children and families out there mucking in!  Special thanks to our Project Tongariro volunteers who were helping as well as Department of Conservation, Contact Energy, Classic Hits Taupo, Taupo Native Plant Nursery, Wairakei Resort Taupo who helped make the day possible and for their ongoing commitment to the Greening Taupo project. What a fantastic day we had; around 300 people turned up to plant trees, enjoy a sausage and be a part of the launch of this fantastic new project for our Taupo community.

Check out the planting day album on Facebook!

Greening Taupo is pleased to announce that we have been selected as a boxer charity of choice for the upcoming Zero Risk King of the Ring event with 100% Lake Taupo Charitable Trust. This is an awesome opportunity for Greening Taupo to raise some funds and gain some profile in the Taupo community.  We are really excited to have been selected. Watch this space for ways that you can support the project.

Nina Manning has been appointed Greening Taupo coordinator.  She is busy coordinating planting days, membership, promotion and recruiting partners for this initiative.  If you'd like to get in touch with her you can reach her on or check out

Posted: Thu 29 Aug 2013

Roel Michels