Tracks that have been closed on Kawau due to safety concerns are being re-opened.
All seven kilometres of tracks were closed last May because of dangerous overhanging pine branches. Coach Road and Two House tracks have since reopened following extensive arborist work.
Most of the pines were planted by Sir George Grey to provide a picturesque backdrop for Mansion House. The Department of Conservation (Doc) ranger David Wilson says that some need harvesting as they are reaching the end of their life.
“We will leave the Redwoods track and the area around the back of Mansion House, but we will remove hazardous pines, and create regeneration and native restoration planting.”
Kawau Island covers over 2000ha and, since 1987, Doc has managed around 10 per cent of it. Although the island is currently without a permanent ranger, Doc is looking for a replacement.
Conservation work is focused on the Kawau Island Historic Reserve, which covers 258ha. David says the island’s eclectic past provides plenty of ongoing conservation challenges.
“Wallabies are one of the biggest problems. They have an enormously detrimental effect on vegetation. The only things that grow well are things that wallabies don’t eat.”
Doc has reduced wallaby numbers, but it would take an island-wide agreement from landowners to eradicate them completely.
Sir Grey planted hundreds of species of plants and imported exotic animals including wallabies, kookaburras, weka, peacocks, zebras and monkeys. The zebras and monkeys have gone but the wallabies, weka and peacocks remain.
The usual mix of stoats, rats and possums also threaten the island’s population of brown kiwi and weka. David says the island is home to one of the biggest populations of North Island weka and the kiwi population is around 40.
Mansion House is open to the public from midday for two hours during the week and three-and-a-half hours on weekends. Doc also has a volunteer programme on the island, which varies from one day a month to a five day stint.
Info: visit doc.govt.nz