Good as Gold September 2012

Read the September 2012 issue of Good as Gold, the Otago Conservancy newsletter.

You can also download this newsletter: 11 September 2012 (PDF, 2,969K)

In this issue: 

Working with others to look after our country
New hope for Wakatipu heritage sites
Visit a miners’ ghost town
Project Gold turns one
Routeburn and whio benefit from Air NZ
Conservation Week 9-16 September
Round the traps

Working with others to look after our country

Changes have been made within the Department of Conservation (DOC) recently, and from now on we’ll be working more with others to achieve a lot more for conservation.

We can’t solve New Zealand’s conservation issues alone. We’re looking to form partnerships so together we can tackle the huge challenge facing conservation. DOC, local communities, iwi, private landowners, local government and business all need to join up and work together to put people and the natural environment back in harmony.

Looking back on the 25 years that DOC has existed, there have been a few ‘life‑changing’ moments for the organisation. One came in 2005 with the independent review of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy.

This told us that, despite our best efforts, we weren’t halting the decline, let alone turning the tide. But the investment wasn’t being wasted. Where we worked, we were successful. The conclusion was more a statement about the size of the task, and the limits of our resources alone.

It brought it home to us that here is a job that is bigger than DOC, and the only way to make inroads is to involve a lot more people.

Instead of continuing to look inward, DOC is changing its focus to those outside the Department who are able to work towards the same objectives for conserving New Zealand’s natural resources.

The Department now wants to talk to all these people and look at the extent to which our interests match up. We are thinking about how we can combine efforts and support each other. We want to be more involved in education initiatives.

If you want to talk to us, are interested in working with us, or have some great ideas, you can email us at

Alan McKenzie, Acting Otago Conservator

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Otago Conservator Marian van der Goes is farewelled by representatives of Ngāi Tahu. Marian has retired and the Acting Conservator is Alan McKenzie (fourth from left). Otago Conservator Marian van der Goes is farewelled by representatives of Ngāi Tahu. Marian has retired and the Acting Conservator is Alan McKenzie (fourth from left).

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New hope for Wakatipu heritage sites

There’s good news for the increased protection of heritage sites around the Wakatipu area.

Bullendale abandoned gold mine.Bullendale abandoned gold mine

Sites such as Bullendale — an abandoned goldmine above Skippers Canyon — provide unique insights into New Zealand’s history, but due to limited resources, DOC has had to prioritise its effort at a few key sites.

That’s about to change thanks to formation of the Wakatipu Heritage Trust, after 2 years of planning.

As a not-for-profit charitable organisation, the trust will become a fundraiser and recipient of grants and donations. The trust’s main goals are to halt the decline of heritage sites that currently have no statutory protection and to galvanise public awareness of Wakatipu’s historic assets.

‘What makes this trust unique is that it incorporates all heritage sites in our area, instead of focusing on a particular project,’ said DOC Wakatipu Area Manager Greg Lind, who was the first to suggest the idea for a heritage trust in 2010.

Greg is confident the trust will get good results, thanks to strong community leadership. ‘It’s run by a powerful group of people who have a proven track record of moving quickly and focusing on action,’ he said. Former Conservation Minister Denis Marshall, co-owner of Hawkshead Vineyard, has accepted the invitation to become the trust’s patron.

The trust is supported by a number of partners. Both DOC and the Historic Places Trust are helping with administration and technical support, and the Queenstown Lakes District Council (for which formation of the trust was a priority as part of its Historic Heritage Strategy) has granted $5000 to help with start-up costs.

The trust’s first task is to undertake a strategic assessment of all heritage sites around Wakatipu, to rank their conservation in order of urgency and importance.

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Visit a miners’ ghost town

Next month DOC will be hosting a miners’ camp in Macetown with short guided walks and talks on the history of the town. The camp is part of this year’s Gold 150 celebrations, which mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Central Otago.

Come along to learn about the families who lived and worked in the area and visit some of Macetown’s hidden secrets.

Southern Explorer is running a tag-along 4WD tour or, if you don’t have your own vehicle you can still join the adventure as the Shotover 4WD Club has offered to drive people into Macetown. There are a limited number of seats so bookings are essential.

You need to bring food and walking and camping gear for the weekend. We’d like to involve families with a connection to Macetown, and there will be the chance to tell family stories round the campfire in the evening.

Date: Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 October
Departing: 10:00 am on 27 October from Arrowtown Chinese Village
Cost: $10 donation ($5 for children) towards fuel if travelling with the Shotover 4WD Club

Gold 150 is being organised by the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust. For more information contact Susie Geh at

Project Gold turns one

It’s that time again when the golden blooms of kōwhai are appearing; reminding us here at DOC that Project Gold was launched a year ago.

Hundreds of individuals and groups throughout Otago have enthusiastically taken part in the project, preparing sites and planting kōwhai and other associated plants. Many businesses, schools, organisations and councils have come on board. Children and young people have especially enjoyed the hands-on experience of growing seedlings and planting one of our favourite natives.

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Clyde Primary School children help extend the Project Gold planting site at the start of the Clutha River track in Clyde. Clyde Primary School children help extend the Project Gold planting site at the start of the Clutha River track in Clyde

Sponsors have included Kiwi Discovery, which has provided sponsorship for 3 years, allowing the establishment of ten planting sites (so far) in the Wakatipu area.

Led by Clyde resident Lynne Stewart, 25 students from Clyde Primary School extended a Project Gold planting at the start of the Clutha River track in Clyde.

Commenting on Project Gold, Lynne said, ‘It’s wonderful to begin ecological restoration in an area that’s handy to our neighbourhood and gets huge public use. Our first planting 10 months ago is looking great and we’re thrilled the native plants are thriving and well suited to the site. This project has had many positive spinoffs — people aged from 5 to 86 years are involved and working together. Over time, we hope to see more native tūī, koparapara/bellbirds and kererū/ wood pigeons around Clyde.’

Commenting on the project, Steve Brown, Enviroschools Facilitator for Central Otago, said, ‘I love Project Gold because, in my Enviroschool work, I see children learning about our indigenous plants, being involved in taking action for the environment when propagating seeds, and planting natives at school and in the community.’

Project Gold seed kits are still available free to the public. They have been popular at DOC stands at A & P shows, Clutha district libraries and Otago Museum’s Big Day Out.

DOC is still looking for a major sponsor for Project Gold, so contact your local DOC office if you’re interested.

For information on upcoming planting days visit See the montage page insert for planting day images.

Get information on upcoming planting days

See a montage of photos from the planting day (PDF, 2,699K)

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Routeburn and whio benefit from Air NZ

Threatened whio/blue ducks will be returned to the Routeburn Valley as the result of a 3‑year partnership between DOC and Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand’s support, worth more than $1 million annually, is enabling us to begin work on four major new biodiversity projects that will run over the next 2 to 3 years across the country, centred on four of our Great Walk tracks.

This partnership and the associated predator control and technical work funded by Air New Zealand will allow us to return whio to the Routeburn Valley. This work has already started in the Queenstown area.

‘The establishment of the Great Walks Biodiversity Partnership and the Air New Zealand Translocation Programme will see our two organisations come together to enhance and promote the sorts of things that make New Zealand unique,’ said Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe.

‘It will enable important conservation biodiversity projects to take place in the vicinity of the Great Walks and also help promote these gems in New Zealand’s natural tourism crown to domestic and international tourists like never before.’

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Conservation Week 9-16 September

Conservation Week this year is dedicated to celebrating and enjoying the parks, special places and wildlife that every area of New Zealand has to offer. This year we’re also celebrating our national parks as it’s the 60th anniversary of the National Parks Act.

There are heaps of things to do and see around Otago and we want to you to get out and explore what’s in your backyard, and take part in conservation events and activities.

Conservation Week events include:

Ki Uta ki tai - From the mountains to the sea Conservation volunteer week with River-Estuary Care: Waikouaiti-Karitane, East Otago Taiapure, Hawksbury Lagoon Group and Kati Huirapa Runaka.

Oamaru Library talk DOC Community Technical Advisor John Barkla will give a presentation on Project Gold Wednesday 12 September

Central Otago Festival of short films including award winning Gone Curling about Maniototo Bonspiel. Alexandra Central Stories, Thursday 13 September, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm. Ranfurly Rugby Clubrooms Tuesday 11 September, 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm Cromwell College Auditorium Wednesday 12 September, 2:10 pm and 7:00 pm

Coastal Cleanup Dunedin John Wilson Ocean Drive (Pirates Football Club), Dunedin and Ocean Beach Domain, Brighton Noon, Sunday 16 September

Visit the Conservation Week website to find out more.

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Round the traps

DOC Coastal Otago has embraced social media to share conservation volunteering news and events. Like ‘Conservation Volunteers Coastal Otago’ on Facebook and follow @DOCcoastalotago on Twitter to keep in the loop about local conservation activities.

At the Taiaroa Head/Pukekura albatross colony, adult birds have had a hard time reaching the headland to feed their chicks due to the lack of wind. This meant 12 chicks needed supplementary feeding to maintain a healthy weight. While one chick died following a blast of wintry weather, the remaining chicks are now banded and will soon leave the headland (for about 5 years) for their first voyage to sea.

The Grand and Otago Skink Recovery Programme has moved captive grand and Otago skinks to their new long-term homes, and matched them into pairs based on individual genetic analysis to minimise inbreeding of animals, as the population is small.

The two takahē we moved to Orokonui Ecosanctuary are settling into their new home, providing an added visitor attraction and raising the profile of this threatened species. Mitre 10 sponsorship allowed the translocation, materials and staff time.

The New World revegetation sponsorship is moving to its next stage — 160 rare plants grown from locally sourced seed are now ready to go into the ground at Macraes, their propagation having started when the money was first donated.

The Tunnel Beach walk in Dunedin received its first major overhaul in 10 years with improvements to the surface and grade at this popular local scenic spot.

In the Catlins, facilities at Maclean Falls are being upgraded to improve access to the falls.

A ground-based rat poisoning programme was implemented in Dart Valley to protect mohua. There was a dramatic increase in rat numbers last summer and autumn, fuelled by a significant amount of beech seed fall, posing a significant threat to mohua survival.

Wilding pine control has been carried out in the Eyre Mountains between Queenstown and Kingston, and around Mt Aurum Recreation Reserve (Skippers). The Wilding Conifer Control Group, local station owners, DOC Wakatipu Area Office and Southland Conservancy all contributed to the Eyre Mountains work, which cost over $400,000.

A bid has been made for stabilisation and restoration work on Homeward Bound Battery at Macetown. Long-term management of the battery and Macetown Reserve is being considered.

Drainage has been improved around the Skippers Schoolhouse and earthquake strengthening work will begin soon.

Work has been completed on the Arrowtown Powder Magazine and it is now a notable feature at the entrance to Arrowtown.

A consultant has put forward management options for the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement and how the visitor experience of the site can be enhanced.

Maintenance and realignment of the Quinns Flat section of the Dart Track has been completed. A new bridge has been installed over Spaniard Creek, an hour from the Chinamans Bluff road end, resulting in better access during floods.

The Whitbourn Bridge, below Dart Hut, will be replaced after it was destroyed in 2010.

Upgrading of Moke Lake campsite is nearly complete, with only minor plantings still to finish.

Work will begin soon on upgrading the Lake Sylvan campsite and the Seven Mile and Bobs Cove car park areas and visitor facilities.

The bucket ladder of the Bendigo Gold Light dredge has been returned to its original site on Bendigo Loop Rd, with the help of the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust (OGHT). New information panels explaining the history of the area are planned for the site.

Information panels have been installed telling the story of the Come in Time battery, a joint project with OGHT. Relocation of the Bendigo dredge and the new Come in Time panels will be celebrated as a Gold 150 event next month.

The Golden Progress Mine in Oturehua has had a welldeserved revamp, with 30-year-old information panels being replaced with new ones. DOC has worked with landowners Barry and Joy Becker to tell stories about the mine.

New traps have been put out around Mahaka Katia and the Cromwell Chafer Beetle Reserve near Cromwell to catch hedgehogs and ferrets.

Facilities at Danseys Pass Recreation Reserve campsite have received a makeover. Adjacent to Kyeburn Diggings and overlooked by Oteake Conservation Park, the site contains gold workings and trees planted to represent different nationalities on the gold fields.

Wanaka staff have formed a track through the Hikuwai Conservation Area linking into the Lake Outlet Track near Albert Town. A chain fence has been erected to restrict vehicle access onto the grassed area.

Stricter conditions have been introduced for burn-off procedures, after burn-off fires near Wanaka spread into adjoining public conservation land and caused severe damage. Permit applications have to be lodged 6 weeks before any burnoff, proposed areas will be inspected by DOC, and a DOC officer will attend and monitor burns considered a high risk to public conservation land.

Access has been provided to new public conservation land as a result of tenure review outcomes of Cloudy Peak and Mount Aspiring Stations. New signs and stiles have been erected and car parks developed.

Septic systems at the Kidds Bush and Boundary Creek campsites have been upgraded. These two campsites are used by over 5,500 visitors a year.

Lake Wanaka’s Mou Waho Island mountain stone wētā population now have their own motels to protect them from predators. Eco Wanaka Adventures initiated the wētā motel project, which includes four motels that enable visitors to observe them, and a further 40 monitoring motels installed around the island. The motels were built by Mt Aspiring College students.

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