So, we headed into Reikorangi Valley and followed Mangaone South Road, where the southern end of the Mangaone Walkway is accessed. The last time we had explored this track (when my son was about two), we only got as far as the swing bridge (50 metres in), before becoming ensconced by the river, experimenting with the myriad different ways stones can be thrown into the water (<– irony). So no actual bush-walking was undertaken on that occasion. Continue reading
Today, the Akatarawa Road between Waikanae and the Upper Hutt provides a beautiful scenic route through rugged native forest and forestry country, with views across the valley out to sea [click here to view location]. The road largely follows the Akatarawa River, which joins the Hutt River north of Upper Hutt. Continue reading
The other day, a colleague of mine asked: “Why were stoats and ferrets introduced into New Zealand? Do you know?”. I put on my best “all-knowing” face, and said “To control rabbits”. But even as I said it, I wavered with uncertainty, because it seemed so preposterous – a bit like the old lady who swallowed the spider (to eat the fly). Continue reading
Today, the Petone and Lower Hutt area is an intense conglomeration of industrial, commercial and residential buildings and infrastructure – interconnected by motorways, roads and railways – concentrated within the confines of the sea to the south and the steeply rising hills of the valley to the west and east. Within this landscape of steel, glass, concrete and asphalt, it is hard to believe that only 170 years ago, this was thickly forested floodplain and estuary, rich with teeming birdlife – including the now extinct huia, and the endangered kokako. Continue reading
In November 1948, the takahe, which had not been sighted for 50 years and long thought extinct, was discovered in Fiordland’s remote Murchison Mountains. The discovery was made not by a scientist or wildlife specialist, but by Southland medical doctor Geoffrey Orbell. A keen tramper and hunter, Orbell was convinced that the takahe was the source of strange bird calls he had heard when tramping in the area. His tracking and locating of three takahe in 1948 caused an immense stir among the public, and the government quickly closed off this remote part of Fiordland National Park in an effort to protect this last known population.
The excitement this discovery must have caused, among the public and wildlife practitioners alike, is hard to imagine. The following excerpt, from the Southland News in February 1897 – more than half a century before this discovery – demonstrates that even then, most people were resigned to the likelihood that the takahe would follow the same inevitable path to extinction as the huia: Continue reading