volunteer it’s great cause

Track inspection & a cautionary tale

Last week Ali and I took to the hills to inspect the accumulated winter damage on the Hump Ride track and lodges, and complete the second stage of GPS marking from Stag Point to Port Craig.

Later in the day we would be joined by Hump Ridge Trust Treasurer, Les Johnston, as well as Johan Groters and Joyce Kolk (of Wairaurahiri Jet) for a well-earned steak supper and a few obligatory tinnies. The next day we would all continue the journey, checking stoat traps and marking points of historical note along the tramway approach to Port Craig. Hopefully this will eventually lead to the creation of an interpretative information leaflet for the Percy Burn to Port Craig tramway walk.

Happily, we managed to miss the winter storms that battered the south coast either side of our trip, and had two glorious days’ on the track. Neither lodge had suffered much winter damage, track repairs being limited to windfall and mud removal: a big relief for Ali! Johan and Joyce also found a large haul of stoats and rats in their traps – fantastic news for their ongoing trapping operation.

On a less positive note, our trip also brought us face-to-face with the dark side of tourist trampers in New Zealand. While Ali and I were checking over the Okaka lodge, a young male tramper wondered in carrying an enormous pack, wearing jeans, a cotton t-shirt, flimsy canvas trainers and with very little food to last the trip. He (who will remain nameless) had set out from Rarakau at noon the previous day, was unable to reach Okaka before nightfall and had bivvied at Stag Point. He had no map, no adequate wet-weather kit, no locator beacon and no mobile phone, had left no notice of intentions, had not registered with the Hump Ridge Track to undertake the walk, and had not told anyone of his whereabouts.

Ali and I warned the tramper of the foolishness of his actions to date but he was determined to continue around the track. Having been briefed on the track and its condition, he set off – promising to notify us after he had got off the track. It was with considerable relief that the tramper came into the office a few days later, cold, exhausted, extremely hungry and with feet covered in blisters from his inadequate footwear.

This tramper’s negligence not only endangered his own life but could have resulted in considerable financial and emotional repercussions if a Search and Rescue operation had become necessary. More than likely, though, as the young man had not notified anyone of his intention to walk and had no means of calling for assistance in case of difficulty, rescue (and even recovery) would be extremely unlikely if he had walked off the track.

Sadly, this incident put a severe damper on our lovely two days on the track. Please, if you are coming to New Zealand and plan to go tramping, bring adequate kit/supplies and tell someone where you are going (and when you return). Don’t become the next statistic.

Written By Kate Hebblethwaite, Operations Manager, Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

Okaka's view of Te Waewae Bay on a beautiful winters day

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Volunteer at one of our lodges – for free…

We are lining up volunteer helpers for our lodges throughout summer.  This is a great opportunity for you to get away from it all for a couple of days to week or so and meet other like minded people walking the track.

Our remote lodges are in a totally different category to DOC huts.  Each lodge has a modern gas fire to keep the lounge nice and toasty plus and optional hot showers and premium rooms with super kingsize beds available to freedom walkers –  we are the only walking track in Fiordland that offer this service and as the word gets out, its getting more and more popular!

Hear the birds, watch the dolphins swim by

Our lodge at Port Craig is on the edge of Te Waewae Bay on the south coast.  A couple of minutes bush walk to Mussel Beach we have a resident family of Hector’s Dolphin and amazing sunrises.  In the 1920’s Port Craig was a remote sawmill community.  Many artefacts and of course huge viaducts still remain for you to read about and explore.

Spectacular location for comfortable facilities

Okaka is an alpine wonderland!  Spectacular 360 degree views from the nearby loop track of the coast, Te Waewae Bay, Stewart Island, Solander Islands, and of course Fiordland mountains and lakes.  Absolutely breathtaking.  The loop track  winds around alpine tors and tarns and beautiful native gardens.  Deer are often seen from the lodge balcony.

Generally these days you have to pay to volunteer right?!  Not with us – as long as you are happy to walk between lodges you can experience our paradise for FREE this season – and food is included!  All we ask for is a couple of hours helping per day – what a deal… get in quick, our volunteers last season loved it!

“I just have taken another look at my pictures and thaught of you! THANK YOU for the nice time as a volunteer. I miss my time in New Zealand and wish to be there now in winter :)” Kerstin, Germany

Contact Kate, our operations manager for more information on this once in a lifetime experience.

Email Kate@humpridgetrack.co.nz


Hubbard’s Clipboard issue 112 – great breaky read!

Are you a Hubbard’s Cereal lover?  If so, chances are you have read our community volunteer story that features on the inside of their clipboard.  Well, what do you think?  Please add a comment below and tell us!

We are getting lots and lots of feedback about the story, thank you to Hubbard’s for spreading the word to Kiwi cereal fans!

If you haven’t seen this issue of Clipboard (found in all Hubbard’s cereal boxes), I’ll tell you the story…

A long, long time ago… (ah sorry, I forget it’s not really a nursery rhyme)

From an idea floated at a Tuatapere Promotions meeting in 1988, a charitable trust was formed to build the track and facilities, raising over $3 million and obtaining permission from private land owners and the government. The track is now run and maintained by the Tuatapere Hump Track Charitable Trust, whose members are all volunteers from the community with a passion for the Hump Ridge Track and the future well being of the Tuatapere community.

It took locals from 1988 to Dec 2000 to pass through all the red tape and gain the many consents required to build the track but it was finally opened on November 2nd 2001 by Prime Minister RT Hon Helen Clark.  Many community members have donated and continue to donate hundreds of hours to its upkeep and maintenance.

The track is amazing.  The diversity, lodge facilities and 360 degree views make it one of a kind.  It’s a really special experience and the best part of all is it’s working.  Tuatapere is along the Southern Scenic Route and we have tourists travellers stopping by daily.  Many businesses in the area are successful thanks to increased custom the track has brought in and Tuatapere is still alive and well.

Around 25,000 community hours went into construction with another 20,000 or so since then for track upkeep.  This included building the boardwalk into 3 metre length at a local woolshed during the evenings for 12 months prior to getting the actual construction team in.  The track took nine months to build, the construction team included professionals plus locals helping them.  Every piece of the 10kms of boardwalk has netting on it, stapled by hand, by volunteers.  How’s that for dedication?


HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Joyce and Johan – Wairaurahiri Jet

These two caring kiwi’s took out the 2010 Southland Environment Awards Environmental Achiever prize for their volunteer stoat trapping program, great work guys!

Joyce and Johan are very passionate about the bird life in our untouched piece of Fiordland National Park.   They have been successfully trapping stoats and rats along the Wairaurahiri River where their Jet Boating business (Wjet) operates since June 2006.

On average they catch approximately 300 stoats and 300 rats every year.   Stoats kill whenever possible – even animals bigger than they are.  Every opportunity they get to rob a nest of eggs or kill a native NZ bird, they take – even if they aren’t hungry!

The traps all have bright pink spring loaded flags which pop up when the trap is set off.   Every time Johan takes a boat trip down the river he stops at all the traps which have their flags flying to reset them so they can catch more.  Every trap has a sponsor and there is a tally of how many dirt rotten rats and slimy stoats each sponsor has caught in their trap.

As well as down the river, Joyce and Johan also have stoat traps along the South Coast track and another 80 made for the Hump Ridge Track.  We are just on the lookout for further sponsorship so we can fly them to the top and get the traps into position, helping our beautiful native birds.

The most common question asked about their trapping program is – why do you trap the stoats in the first place?  Well, stoats were introduced in New Zealand to help control the growing rabbit problem back in the late 1800’s, unfortunately they like it here a bit too much (especially in our native forests) having no natural preditors!

If you want to know more about Joyce and Johan’s stoat trapping program or their must-do exhilarating jetboat day trip down the fast flowing Wairaurahiri River go to their website www.wjet.co.nz.

Joyce checking a stoat trap
This dirty rat didn’t get away!