Tongariro Times - July 2012

Tongariro Times July 2012

Major donation to Mt Ruapehu’s ski heritage
by Karen Williams

A $30,000 donation has been made by the Nigel Taylor Alpine Foundation (NTAF) to help restore an old stone chairlift drive, a building associated with the pioneering years of Whakapapa Ski Area.

The donation to the Stone Sanctuary project has been made in memory of Nigel Taylor, who died tragically in a boating accident in January 1990. The donation acknowledges his lifelong connection with Mt Ruapehu and the special contribution made to the ski industry.

Nigel learned to ski at Ruapehu and was a keen member of Ruapehu Ski Club.

He was widely known for the retail ski shop he founded in Auckland in 1977 called ‘Ski Yer Heart Out’. According to a NTAF member Noel Smith, establishing a specialist ski business at that time was a brave move away from the general sports store concept. “Nigel was a professional who lived life to the full. He had a lot of humility and over the years helped many young ski club members and took dozens of ski racers under his wing – sponsoring and assisting them to achieve their goals.”

Nigel’s father, Fergus Taylor, was one of the founding directors of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL). The company brought the first modern chairlifts to Whakapapa in 1954; the first in New Zealand. Fergus was a close friend of Swiss ski entrepreneur Walter Haensli who played a pivotal role in starting RAL. Later he became Nigel’s godfather.

Engineering and structural work on the interesting old stone building at the base of the Staircase ski run will be undertaken by Ruapehu Alpine Lifts. An appeal for funds to restore the old stone drive was launched earlier this year by Project Tongariro. Those buying ski passes on line this winter have already contributed more than $1400 to the restoration fund which now stands at $31,425.00. Funds raised will go to the internal refit and towards interpretation on site. It is hoped the building will be open for public use by the winter of 2013 to coincide with RAL’s 60th anniversary since its incorporation in 1953.


Ark in the Park Field Trip
by Mary Monzingo

On Friday 18 of May, 16 members and guests of Project Tongariro gathered at the Karanga Camp adjacent to the Cascade Kauri Park in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The Camp facilities exceeded our expectations with warm and comfortable sleeping accommodation, a well-appointed kitchen and dining room, recreation hall and ablution blocks.

On Saturday morning we met with members of the Waitakere Branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society at the adjacent ‘Ark in the Park’.  The morning was spent following a roughly cleared and physically challenging trap line through dense bush to rebait and reset the traps. This was followed by a shared lunch with Forest and Bird volunteers.

The Ark is a conservation project, within the Cascade Kauri Park, that controls non-native pests and predators, to help restore the ecology of the area to its natural state. It is a partnership between Forest and Bird and the Auckland Council.

A variety of walks were on the afternoon’s programme but after our strenuous morning most of us opted to do the sedate hour-long Auckland City Walk. This track is said to be one of the most beautiful walking loops in the Waitakere Ranges. Huge kauri, one with a girth of 6.5m, large totara and information signs explaining interesting features of the forest are highlights of this track. To help control the spread of the kauri dieback disease we had to spray the soles of our boots with a solution supplied at the start and end of the track.

On Saturday night six Forest and Bird members joined us for dinner. Following dinner John Sumich, the Chair of Forest and Bird's Waitakere Branch, gave an interesting presentation regarding their work in the Ark.

Before dawn on Sunday morning, four of us headed out to kokako territory hoping to hear kokako in the dawn chorus. With light rain falling the kokako must have decided to sleep in but we were treated to the calls of ruru and tui. The tui had a distinctly different call to other tui we had previously heard. Tomtit, wax eye, grey warbler, fantail and Eastern rosellas were also spotted.

After breakfast we headed to the Te Henga wetland where John Sumich explained the Forest and Bird restoration project there. The Te Henga wetland is the largest freshwater wetland in Auckland and has some of the same weed (willow) and pest control issues we experience closer to home.

On Sunday afternoon most of us fitted in a visit to Bethells Beach and a walk to Lake Wainamu before heading away, already thinking about where our next adventure might be.

Special thanks to Mary Monzingo for organising this amazing field trip.

T42 - Another Great Event in Tongariro National Park
by Kiri Te Wano

The weather defiantly played a huge part in the success of the T42 this year – just beautiful blue skies and lots of SUN!  Owhango Domain was a hive of activity with the finish line / chute surrounded by banners, sponsors' tents and products and the local Owhango School and Fire Brigade were there in force.  The school were supplied top-notch burgers, sausages and hot chips, and the Fire Brigade did what they do best – spraying water around and cleaning mountain bikes.   

Kevin, Noel and I were situated in the finish area taking off timing transponders from walkers, runners and mountain bikers.  Beth, Lyn, Frank and Annette were situated along the last 2.5 km of the course.  We arrived early to set up our Advocacy Trailer and banners and spent the rest of the day enjoying the live DJ with constant updates on competitors progress and estimated arrival times.  As there were five events running congruently, we were all kept busy and entertained with a steady stream of ‘happily’ finishing competitors.

This was another fantastic event run by Total Sport, who are always organised, friendly and above all put on a professionally-run event.  All of our volunteers agreed that we really enjoyed the day.  It was another great earner for Project Tongariro in terms of fundraising.

Summer Interns Report
by Kiri Te Wano

The objective of the Project Tongariro Intern programme is to provide the opportunity for undergraduate environmental management students to learn hands- on skills and gain practical experiences in an environment such as Tongariro National Park, alongside Project Tongariro volunteers and staff from the Department of Conservation.

This intern programme really wouldn’t be possible without the help from Craters of the Moon Trust and we are delighted to have their commitment to the Intern Programme for the next two summers.

Both Kelly and Jenny proved to be excellent representatives of Waikato University.  They spent time scheduled in and around Mt Ruapehu gaining valuable experience in ecosystem management. They spent a week camping with Nick Singers (DOC’s botanist) checking on the health of a population of mistletoe. Jenny, since this experience, decided to focus her placement report on the assessment as to ‘whether intensive pest control allows beech mistletoes to recruit’ (multiply).

The Interns also underwent bird-call training with Jess Scrimgeour (DOC’s fauna support officer) and spent approximately two weeks bird call monitoring up at Rotopounamu as part of our Lake Rotopounamu Restoration Project. Kelly decided to focus her placement report on the assessment of the baiting of rats and the resulting trend of bird population at Rotopounamu Forest.

They also gained valuable experience in delivering educational and recreation values by being part of the team who delivered the very successful event, the Tussock Traverse. Kelly and Jenny were an integral part of the day providing the safe passage of competitors' belongings back to the finish. They also proved themselves knowledgeable, friendly and helpful at the registration night before the event, handing out small tussock plants and information about Project Tongariro to the competitors who generally were very receptive to Project Tongariro’s message.

In the final weeks, Kelly and Jenny were ‘seconded’ to DOC’s Whakapapa office where they were treated to a week of work with the kiwi / whio team. There they tracked and found kiwi in Tongariro Forest.

A highlight for Kelly was an exciting flight over the Tongariro Forest searching for ‘missing’ Kiwi using telemetry equipment. Jenny’s highlight was capturing and holding a Kiwi chick to change the strap on its transmitter. Other memorable events included transporting Kiwi to Rotorua’s Rainbow Springs, and riding quad bikes through Tongariro Forest.

If you would like to read either placement report, please download a copy below or from our website.

Kelly - Assessment of the baiting of rats and the resulting trend of bird population at Rotopounamu

Jenny - Assessment as to 'whether intesive pest control allows beech mistletoes to recruit'

Te Matapuna Wetland Track-clearing and Trapping

There was a great turn out for the track clearing day at Te Matapuna Wetland on 9 June! Lots of blackberry, gorse and hard yacka but smiles all around and great work achieved. Many thanks to Turangi New World for supplying the sausage sizzle...enjoyed by all after a hard afternoon's work!

The track was completed by another hard-working, albeit small crew, (thanks Noel, Chris and Nick for your dedication) on 24 June thus allowing the team to begin the new trapping project in the wetland.  Will report back with results as work progresses.

Project Tongariro would like to acknowledge the Waterfowl Enhancement Trust for their generous donation of boxes for the DOC200 traps to be placed in which will then be put around the Waimarino Wet land.

The Waterfowl Enhancement Trust, a charitable trust established primarily for hunters interested in waterfowl, was launched in December 2010

The trust is a collaboration between a number of private companies and organisations, and aims to increase the number of waterfowl in New Zealand. One of the main purposes of the trust is to supply people with the right tools and information to enhance waterfowl numbers. Simply put, fewer predators like stoats and rats equal more ducks!

The Waterfowl Enhancement Trust is currently looking for people who can assist them to achieve their mission. If you know of anyone who may be interested in working with them please contact or contact Peter Devlin on 027-755-2949


Rotopounamu Update

We are pleased with the reponse from the Adopt a Hectare initiative and have just adopted the 60th hectare.  It's fantastic to see members and supporters committ to this project.  Still lots of hectares available (although most of the lakefront hectares have been adopted out already).  If you would like to consider adopting a hectare at Rotoponam, to ensure the work can be carried out year after year, go to  

Latest tracking tunnel results

Line 1 - Rats x 4
Line 2 - Rats x 4
Line 3 - Rats x 3
Line 10 - Rats x 0
Line 11 - Rats x 1
Line 12 - Rats x 0
Line 13 - Rats x 1

This equates to a rat tracking rate of 19%, which in comparison to last year's increase of rats over the winter, looks to be increasing at a slightly faster rate.  The lines with high numbers of rats are all close to the block boundary and is what we would expect from new rats migrating in to the block. We should look to run tracking tunnels again at the start of August to get a clear idea of how it is going. At this stage there are no concerns that the rat numbers are going to increase to a rate that will be uncontrollable when we start to run the bait stations. We know that we can control large numbers of rats in a short period of time using the PestOff 20R as demonstrated by the graph below (October 2010).

Latest Trap Clearing
While major bait station work is paused over winter, the 50 traps along the shores of Rotopounamu are still set and cleared throughout winter months.

On 23 June 2012, dedicated Project Tongariro volunteers, Noel and Lyn Thomas, cleared five rats from the traps.  With a bit of clever kiwi thinking, another dedicated volunteer, Kevin Griffiths, has added a nifty design feature to make their work more efficient.  See the pics below.


The next newsletter will include a full end-of-year report for the work completed at Rotopounamu, as well as recommendations for the 2012/13 year.

Dactylanthus caging / seed-set monitoring, Tongariro Forest - 31 July 2012

Up to 10 volunteers are required on Tuesday 31 July to assist DOC ranger Nicole Sutton with Dactylanthus caging and seed-set monitoring in Tongariro Forest.

If you've cut cages and/or put cages on plants before, that would be awesome, but it is not necessary, as training will be given.  A couple of rolls of netting will be dragged out with the crew and the cages will be made on-site.  Anyone who’s interested can also assist Nicole again the following week, at some of the other sites.  Cages will be put back on plants and some seed set monitoring will be done.

Sturdy foot wear, wet-weather gear, food, water, and gardening gloves.  The work day will be postponed if it’s pouring with rain though.  It will be from about 10am to 3pm.  Meet on SH47 at the turnoff to OPC (where the big Sir Edmund OPC sign is). 

Please indicate if you’re coming  by Friday 27 July.  Contact Kiri at or 07 386 6499. 

All welcome!

Annual Garden Bird Survey - From 30 June to 8 July 2012

The annual garden bird survey takes place in the week 30 June to 8 July 2012. It takes only an hour – any one you like! See  for instructions, an online recording form, and help identifying common NZ birds.

You are invited to watch birds in your garden for one hour (and just one hour) sometime between 30 June to 8 July.  You don’t have to watch your whole garden, just part of the garden will do. Also, you don’t have to be outside to do the survey. You can do it from the luxury of your kitchen or living room (some people have even done it from their bedroom), looking out the window at part of the garden.

By participating in the survey, we will help build up a picture of how both native and introduced birds are faring in our gardens over the years.

If you can do your survey online that would save a lot of time for the volunteers who process the forms.

Download the survey form here.

Event Calandar

We are in the process of finalising our volunteer and field trip calendar for the upcoming 12 months.  If you have ideas or want to make a contribution, please contact Kiri at or 07 386 6499. 

Looking forward to another exciting year filled with amazing field trips, neat volunteer opporunties and awesome achievements in conservation in Tongariro National Park!

Posted: Mon 09 Jul 2012

Roel Michels