Tongariro Times May 2014


Tongariro Times - May 2014



The last event on our calendar for marshalling - The Central Plateau Marmot T42 was held on Saturday 3 May. A huge thank you to those dedicated, motivated and enthusiastic volunteers - 20 of them this year! Saturday dawned overcast but warm (ish) and we all set out to our various spots, some on foot, some with the 4WD club and a couple of the hardy ones on mountain bikes. The day improved as it went on and as we were celebrating the end of the event, with a couple of Speights-sponsored products, the sun came out! Thank you also must go to the friendly, organised team from Total Sport who put the event on. A great day was had by all!

Vollies BBQ - thank you to our hard working volunteers

The annual vollies BBQ was held in February and the turnout was awseome.  About 30 people attended (double compared to last year).  Taupoians made the journey south and of course the hardy group from Turangi and surrounds turned up in force. It was a hot sunny evening, and Paul G officiated the 'Volunteer Mystery Award'.  Ardy was the lucky person drawn - Congrats Ardy - all your hard work is appreciated!

This draw will be an annual event.  Every time you volunteer you will be entered into the draw.  The more times you volunteer, the better odds you have at winning!

Project Tongariro wouldn't be able to achieve their objectives without volunteers doing their thing so THANKS!

'Adopt a Hectare' going strong - but there are still plenty of hectares to adopt.

It takes roughly $100 pa to restore and maintain one hectare of native bush at Rotopounamu.  You can directly help this project by adopting a hectare.  Go online and select your hectare to help us protect this amazing place.


The Tongariro Tramping Club (TTC) is responsible for the management and maintenance of the Mangaiiti Hut off the Ohakune Mountain Road. Following their AGM at Ohakune in May, a small group of members were taken on a trip around Rotopounamu by Project Tongariro members Ardy and Shirley. They club was particularly keen to visit the hectare that they have adopted for the last 2 years.  Terry Burrell has also adopted an additional 2 hectares, one in memory of her father John Fenn – which just happens to have a handy seat! Long may the relationship between the two groups continue!


Community Conservation Partnership Fund Applications by Paul Green

During April our team was busy preparing applications for the new DOC Community Conservation Partnership Fund. The application process was quite onerous and required lots of discussion with other parties to be able to demonstrate a high degree of collaboration and interest.  We needed to be able to prove our projects would be transformational for conservation.

We submitted five applications:

  • Extension of Rotopounamu-Pihanga work, aimed at 1080 ops and reintroduction of species

  • An education resource including a phone app project at Rotopounamu

  • Extended willow removal and planting at Te Matapuna Wetland

  • Historic restoration of the Stone Sanctuary at Mt Ruapehu

  • Major weed removal and restoration planting project for Greening Taupo on the Waikato River and at 5 Mile Bay.

These bids are to be spread over three years totalling approximately 2 million dollars!

Thanks to Karen, Kim, Nick, Kiri and Nina for taking leadership of the various bids.  I particularly want to acknowledge the amount of work Nina and Kiri had to put in, working many extra hours and in Nina's case (Greening Taupo) having to work with many partners.

We will know the results of our applications by the end of June and will keep you posted on any progress.

Visit to Whakatane Kiwi Trust by Robyn Orchard


A Project Tongariro team recently ventured across to Whakatane to meet with the Whakatane Kiwi Trust.  DOC Outreach and Education coordinator Kerryn Penny arranged the trip.  The team was excited at the chance to learn from and share with a like-minded organisation.  DOC's Robyn Orchard tells the story...

Bringing the inspiring together with the resourceful, the resourceful together with the practical and then seeing what magic happens –was the theme of a meeting between DOC and two of our regional partner groups held in Whakatane recently.

The department is working with many different groups and organisations that are doing some really cool stuff in the conservation space.

One of our challenges is to ensure that we bring these people together so there isn’t a constant reinvention of the wheel happening, so that we and our partners can learn from, share and collaborate with and help each other to continue to do cool conservation stuff.

The Whakatane Kiwi Trust launched a new education resource called Kiwi Whakatāne late last year.  Schools and other groups are using it on the Trust’s Kiwi Tracker Walk in the scenic reserve behind Ohope Beach.

Project Tongariro are working on a new education app for the Lake Rotopounamu walk in the Tongariro National Park following on the success of the Tongariro Pocket Ranger app that was launched in 2011, and the recently launched Craters of the Moon app.

Central North Island-based Outreach and Education coordinator Kerryn Penny, whose team is working on the national education and outreach strategy and tools, says there is a real opportunity for different groups who are doing great work to get together and share, learn and collaborate.


“There are already some great tools and resources out there, but we have to start working together and sharing them to stop the constant reinventing of the wheel that can happen and can cost us in time and energy.

“One group has developed a great paper-based educational resource that meets the needs of the teachers and students and hits all the right marks. Another group has the technology for creating apps and is looking at using this technology to provide meaningful and authentic teaching and learning opportunities.

“Both groups want to be working with and supporting teachers to realise the education benefits of their special local places and the work that is being carried out here. Bringing them together is the logical thing to do so we can share our expertise, resources and knowledge and help each other get to where we want to go,” she said.

The two groups spent some time talking about their outreach and education aspirations, funding, sponsorship and how they might share and learn from each other.

Whakatane partnership rangers Steve Brightwell and Bridget Palmer took the visiting group on the kiwi tracker walk following the meeting to see the ‘educational interp stations’ and how the resources work in practice.

You could almost hear the wheels turning, the lights going on and the ideas forming on how technology could help the kiwi tracker walk and how the technology could be supplemented by the physical resources.

“With ipads or ipods some of the anecdotal stories from the storytellers could be told at different parts of the walk through an app that could be downloaded in advance. This could be done in some of the areas on the walk without the storytellers having to be there each time a group visits,” said Project Tongariro’s Kim Manunui.

Project Tongariro Chair Paul Green says the visit reinforced how well the department and community can work together to achieve great conservation outcomes. There are always opportunities to learn from the experiences of others and it’s important to see other ways of doing things.


Whakatane Kiwi Trust deputy chair Jacqui Hughes says one can never underestimate the value of sharing your project ideas with another ‘sister’ organisation. Discussion sharpens your thinking around your own project and allows you to pick up really good concepts from the other group.

Jacqui says seeing ways to expand community and school interaction through advanced IT use is a positive idea we took away from the day.

Whakatane Kiwi Trust biodiversity assistant John Black says he came away enthused about what the trust was doing.

“And of course, there's the sharing of knowledge, what we are doing, what we'd like to do.  In passing that around who knows who will end up hearing about our projects and how we can help them or vice versa,” he said.

Follow the Whakatane Kiwi Trust on Facebook

An Oruatua Story by Shirly Potter


When Kiri called me and asked if we could use the two interns for the day, my response was an emphatic YES. We have a lifetime of pest plants at Oruatua so any extra help is keenly accepted.  Laura and Carly were ably assisted by our three young visitors; Estelle, Orianne and Jean-Baptiste.  An area of natives above the Tauranga-Taupo bridge on the true left was our day’s mission.  This had been planted many years ago by pupils at the Tauranga-Taupo school and was badly in need of “exotic weed cleansing”. Our happy crew dealt to willows, budleais, broom, poplars, lupins, oak trees and ‘freed’ some trees from the grip of Japanese honeysuckle. Carly was particularly excited to see our ‘temporary resident’ – the baby Shining Cuckoo with the foster Grey Warbler parents.  The poor Warblers were run off their ‘feet’ tending to the continuous calls from the chick.

Everyone came home scratched by blackberry, but well proud of the day’s effort. Thanks Guys, you’re welcome back anytime!

The new Craters of the Moon App

Project Tongariro is pleased to announce that the new Craters of the Moon smartphone app based on Project Tongariro's Pocket Ranger template has been released.  It is fantastic to be able to help another like-minded community organisation with its own app project. 

Download it for ipPhone or Android at


A rail journey with a difference by Margi Keys


The 85-km Twenty-Tunnel Tour with Forgotten World Adventures (FWA) on February 16 was such fun, in glorious sunshine. We actually passed through 21 rail tunnels before reaching Okahukura near Taumarunui. The longest (1225m) and last one took 10 years to build. The many bonuses included ripe blackberries, there for the picking.

The railway line between Stratford and Taumarunui was closed by KiwiRail in 2009. It hadn’t been profitable since 1932, and there had been no passenger service since 1983. So FWA have obtained a 30-year lease to operate the carts on the track, and although they charge $285 a head for the day trip they have managed to exceed their visitor number target in their second season already.

Frank had us up at 6am. Our shuttle from Taumarunui to Whangamomona on the scenic Forgotten World Highway (SH43) took about two hours. Thick fog enveloped us for half that time; on a fine day there would be views of the TNP peaks to the east.

After a cuppa at the famous Whangamomona Hotel, we strolled past the quaint historic buildings, in various stages of repair, to the rail carts. There we were briefed by our excellent guide Maree. ‘No overtaking,’ she warned. And then our rather noisy but wonderful seven-hour rail trip began! Jackets were needed for the longest tunnels; I had my neck warmer on the whole way.

The rail carts are modified golf carts running on petrol at a maximum speed of 20km/hr. The steering wheel is redundant. Our convoy had 11 carts, eight of them two-seaters. Mine was a second-generation all-girl four-seater with Karen Ardin (Ardy) as our driver: lots of train noises, singing, laughing and identifying the plants as we clickety-clacked along.

We stopped at many heritage points of interest where Maree explained the features there. The FWA team fed and watered us three times. A guide book in each cart gave us fascinating facts and photos of the construction of the railway.

Views of the surrounding hills included glimpses of erosion, large swathes of possibly ten-year-old regenerating manuka with rewarewa emergent, interspersed with thick mixed podocarp-broadleaf bush that gave way to pasture with tall Lombardy poplars marching up the spurs and across paddocks. Hundreds of other poplars, at least two species of willow, Japanese walnut trees, wattles, tutsan, tree privet, holly, eleagnus, apple trees, tutu and bracken lined the railway and roadsides.

Participants were: Frank Katavich, Annette & Roy Dench, Margaret & Bob Stothart, Shirley Potter, Karen Ardin, Mary Marshall, Liz & Geoff Brunton, John Newton, Althea and Margi Keys.


And then a Frank Katavich

Eight people stayed after the rail cart trip for a walk through the northernmost part of the Whanganui National Park, near Taumarunui.

This walk is rated as a two-hour walk, but it may have taken us a little longer as we stopped a lot to admire different points of interest. After a short distance we came across a swing bridge over the Te Maire stream which was very low, then a little further the junction of the loop part of the track.  From here it was uphill with many steps.  Some fantails kept us company for a short distance, and other bird life in the forest kept us occupied. As we continued towards the lookout point, we passed some impressive mature trees.  On reaching the lookout point there was a table and seats to rest our bodies on, but no view due to the dense bush. From here we strolled down to the loop track junction and out to our cars.  Like day one the weather couldn’t have been better.

A Once (or sometimes twice!) in a Lifetime Oppourtnity - Chatham Islands Trip


"We had an incredible time on the Chathams with Kaye in 2010. Thanks to her we were able to visit a huge range of places and do lots of things across the island and Pitt Island.  We were able to experience the richness of the island’s natural heritage, human history and met a range of locals. We were also able to contribute a little voluntary work and enjoyed significant amounts of kaimoana. We’ll never forget that trip!!!"  ... Harry Keys

We are excited to announce that Kaye will be leading another trip to the Chatham Islands 31st October to 10 November 2014.

Contact Kaye Rabarts for more information and full intinerary if you are interested in taking up this amazing opportunity:

Greening Taupo Community Planting Day

It’s time to get your green on again!

The next Greening Taupo Community Planting Day is on Saturday 24 May from 10am onwards in conjunction with Huka Honey Hive and Wairakei Resort.


Huka Honey Hive and Wairakei Resort are both valued partners of Greening Taupo and are both committed to long term sustainability in business and this includes their planting programmes. Huka Honey Hive and Wairakei Resort have 700 plants to be planted between each business as part of an ongoing commitment to regenerate Taupo’s native forest for local wildlife and residents alike.

Greening Taupo is thrilled to have this planting day to kick off our community planting season. With the support of Huka Honey Hive, Wairakei Resort, Taupo Native Plant Nursery and Classic Hits it promises to be another great community and family day out.

There will be a yummy sausage sizzle brought to you by Wairakei Resort for all participants. Bring along your spade, gumboots, gardening gloves and enthusiasm.

Where & When:

Saturday 24 May from 10 am start at Huka Honey Hive, 65 Karetoto Rd (off Huka Falls Rd) then 11.30 at Wairakei Resort, State Highway 1 (opposite BP Wairakei). Look for the Greening Taupo banners and flags at the gate. Listen to Classic Hits for postponement and live updates.

Find out how you can get involved – visit and register your interest.

Historic Ketetahi Hut - Then and Now

WOW!  Take a look at these pictures from Shirley Potter.  The 'then' pictures of her family at Ketetahi Hut and then 'now' pic some 50 years later when she and Ardy accompanied Kaye Rabarts on a historic site survey mission and came across the piles of the orginal Ketetahi Hut.


Help Wanted! Volunteer Fabulousness


We're looking for someone - or a family - to take over the 'kite making kits' for our annual 'Kite Day'.  This volunteer position is responsible for making up approx 600 kite making kits in time for Kite Day on 1st Jan every year.  All the materials are provided.

We're also looking for a fabulous person to take care of our publications / book sales. This volunteer position ideally requires a local person (Turangi or Taupo) to check in once a week and prepare book orders for postage.

Please contact if you'd like to take up either offer or find out more info.

Rotopounamu Trapping Info Evening


The Rotopounamu Forest Restoration Project and the trapping programme relies heavily on volunteers. There are 250 x DOC200 traps (covering approx 1200ha's) are checked fortnightly and we are very lucky to have a dedicated group of Project Tongariro volunteers and local DOC staff who check trap lines in their spare time.   The project is grateful to Noel & Lyn Thomas who hosted a 'trapping' evening at their house where new trap checkers were introduced, trapping techniques and our overall purpose were discussed.  The new trapping website Pest Trap NZ - was also explored. This new website is available to groups and projects like Rotopounamu to collect data on what is being caught. Once trappers have checked a line, they can then go onto this website to enter their 'kills' and then see at a glance what traps are more successful.  You can also filter to see what traps are catching a particular species.  As you can imagine, its a very useful tool!  The trapping roster now also available online, so trap checkers can see what lines need checking, and roster themselves for this.

This season has been very successful and we're elated to report that rats and stoats have been kept to extremely low levels - which is great news for local bird life. Anecdotally Nick Singers reports that there is a noticeable increase in yellow-crowned Kakariki this season - one of the bird species that we measure our success by.

If you're keen join this prestigious group of trap checkers - or would like to tag along with someone to see what it's all about, contact Rotopounamu Trap Coordinator Shirley Potter or project coordinator -

Rotopounamu Open Day


As part of the Turangi Colours Festival on Easter Weekend, Project Tongariro hosted an OPEN DAY at Rotopounamu.  Despite the serioiusly bad weather forecast a hardy bunch of people took up the offer to join our volunteers on a walk around Rotopounamu. 

The aim is to make this an annual event so that more people can discover the amazing place that is Rotopounamu and appreciate its values are greater than just a great walk. 

By experiencing Rotopounamu with one our volunteers visitors really get a deeper understanding of the unique nature of Rotopounamu and are hopefully inspired to committ to supporting the restoration project themselves.

Our Friends at Bike Taupo Officially Open the Great Lake Trail


On 3 April 2014, Bike Taupo was joined by visiting dignataries and local iwi including the Right Honorable John Key and officially opened the Great Lake Trail, Taupo's section of the National Cycleway.  This is a fantastic achievement for a community group and for our region which is the result of a lot of hard work, passion and committment.  Well done Bike Taupo!

Walkers and cyclists can now enjoy this fantastic trail that follows the shores of Lake Taupo - get out there and enjoy!


Jenny "The Intern" becomes Jenny "The Ranger"


Some of you may remember Jenny - she was one of our Waikato University Interns last summer and we are so excited that she is continuing to work in conservation in our region.  Jenny is now employed by DOC as a Kiwi Ranger and she is pictured here at kiwi release at Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary as part of one of the Mahi Aroha Summer Programme events.

Awesome to work with you again Jenny!

Boundary Stream Trip by Lyn Thomas


In March, Mary Monzingo organised some volunteers to spend 2 weeks helping out at Boundary Stream in Hawkes Bay. This was the first of the mainland islands established in 1996.  Our main role was to help DOC staff with the feeding and weighing of Cook Petrel chicks that had been relocated from Great Barrier Island.  In all there were 114 birds that were fed every 3 days till they fledged and left the burrows. The plan is to get them to return to nest in this area and establish their own colony but patience is required as it may be up to 5 years before they return.

There is also work being done to establish Kaka in the area and some of us had the opportunity to feed 2 fledglings that were being acclimatised in an aviary and 5 established birds in the wild. The DOC staff were pleased to see that the wild birds have produced 2 fledgings of their own.

In between jobs we were able to walk some of the tracks and explore the park.

An interesting area that is well worth a visit.

Roel Michels