Date: 03 November 2009
One of Auckland’s most popular school camps opened its doors in the weekend after a five-month closure.
The Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp was closed while the Department of Conservation undertook a pest-eradication programme to restore Motutapu and Rangitoto, and provide a sanctuary for native wildlife.
The islands will join a growing number of pest-free sanctuaries in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, and could one day rival the park’s flagship sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi.
“We’re excited that schools can now get back to the island and experience the renewed bird life that so many people have been commenting on,” said Auckland Area Manager Brett Butland.
A small party of about 30 children and parents from Paeroa Central School arrived at the camp on Sunday, and a large group of 125 children and parents from Te Rapa Primary School in Hamilton made the trip over yesterday.
At Half Moon Bay yesterday morning, DOC Island Biosecurity Ranger Fin Buchanan and his specially trained rodent detection dog Jak checked bags and vehicles to ensure they were pest-free.
“The islands are now well and truly open and we’re keen for people to get back out there – they just need to remember a few rules,” Buchanan said.
“It’s extremely important that food is packed in chilly bins, sealable fish bins or bags that can be zipped up to stop rats and other pests hitching a ride. All bags must be checked for animal and insect pests, and footwear and other gear must be checked for soil and seeds.”
Jak checks the children's bags for
Once Jak was satisfied, the children boarded the Sealink ferry and headed to Motutapu.
Twelve-year-old Ashleigh Miles was excited to be one of the first students back to the camp. She said she had been learning about the restoration of Rangitoto and Motutapu and thought predator control was very important.
“Otherwise in the end the native animals would all die off and there would only be introduced animals here,” she said.
Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp manager Duncan Watson said his staff were very pleased to see the camp open again.
“They’ve really been hanging out for today,” he said.
He said the restoration project had kept him and his staff busy, but it was all worth it.
“If these kids can hear a kiwi at night one day, then bring it on.”
The last of three bait drops took place on August 6-7, and the camp has now received the all-clear from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.
It will be two years until the islands can be declared officially pest-free, but initial signs are very promising.
“No mice, rats or stoats have been caught in the extensive trapping grid, and after weeks of spotlight searches only one rabbit was recently found and trapped. Work continues to trap and eradicate the last few cats and hedgehogs, and any rabbits not yet seen,” says DOC’s Brett Butland.
“We have been delighted to receive feedback from visitors to the islands commenting on the increased bird chorus and numbers of native birds.”
Volunteers from the Motutapu Restoration Trust have also been busy waging a war against infestations of moth plant, a vigorous exotic vine which is threatening the young native forest planted by volunteers over the past 15 years.
The Home Bay campground also opened in the weekend, and stock were returned last week.
Auckland Regional Public Health Audit
Auckland Regional Public Health Service observed no ongoing risks to public health during their audit of the Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp (MOEC).
In areas of high public usage on both islands, no brodifacoum bait, bait residues or animal carcasses were observed.
Drinking water test results at MOEC indicate that both springs and the bore supply are suitable to be used for drinking water and washing purposes.