Have you ever looked out to the iconic Moutohora (Whale Island) and wished you could visit?
Bill Gardner of Whakatane did, and he had his wish granted when he won a day trip to the island, guided by Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers, as part of this year’s Conservation Week celebrations.
“Bloody enjoyable, the family were rapt with the trip. We see the island from our house every day. It’s like a different world out there, but so close,” says competition winner Bill Gardner.
Bill and his family joined DOC Rangers on Saturday 3rd of December, undertaking quarantine, before heading out to Moutohora aboard the DOC boat “Maataariki”.
The group had barely hit the beach at Moutohora, when DOC Ranger Bridget Evans spotted kiwi probe holes on the beach, concentrated under a pohutukawa tree. Bridget identified the tracks belonging to a juvenile kiwi.
Bridget Evans (Kiwi Project Manager)
guiding Mr Gardner
The group were treated to a rare appearance of a juvenile tuatara, had lunch with multitudes of tui playing in the blossoming pohutukawa, were stalked by some curious tieke (North island saddlebacks), stumbled upon fledgling grey faced petrels, before watching playful male juvenile NZ fur seals testing the patience of the older male seals, while the females basked in the sun.
It was a special opportunity for the general public to visit this iconic taonga (treasure, which is the protected home to some of our rare species of native plants and animals.
Moutohora is jointly managed as a Wildlife Management Reserve by Ngati Awa and DOC through Te Tapatoru a Toi (joint management committee).
“Moutohora is an iconic feature on the Bay of Plenty landscape. It’s fantastic to be able to show people the conservation projects happening on the island, and today was an exclusive opportunity to get close to our rare native species. An opportunity to learn about a vast history that has brought the Island to the sanctuary it is today,” says DOC Community Relations Ranger Trudi Ngawhare.