Tararua Tramping Club

Celebrating 100 years of tramping

Conservation Friends Of Baring Head

Friends of Baring Head

Latest posting from Paula

Dear members and volunteers

I met this morning with our Million Metres partners to start planning our planting season. We will be starting in April, with the main planting in June-August. Don’t forget to promote our fundraising page: We need lots more funds to help pay the costs of running the planting days, as well as the plants. We do know that some more corporate contributions are coming, but every bit helps. And if your company needs an excuse for a volunteer day out, I can link them to the sustainable business network organiser.

Saturday 3 April we will be doing some work up at the lighthouse. Meet at 9am at the bridge carpark. I’ll try to remember to bring some easter eggs.

I will then stay overnight and do some more work on Sunday. So if you want to come later on Saturday or on Sunday, just let me know.

Thursday 8 April we have the new Conservation Work Skills team coming in to do the first official event of the planting season. We will be doing a range of jobs in the valley, including turfing planting sites, building a pond for holding plants and planting some toetoe near the river. Probably starting at 10am and finishing around 3pm, and then doing a late afternoon horned poppy outing to the beach if we have volunteers available for that. If you can join us either earlier in the day or in the evening, let me know and I’ll send details closer to the time.

Saturday 1st May. Meet at the carpark at 9am. We will have a range of jobs depending on how many people can come and what the weather is like – work at the lighthouse, planting preparation or beach weeding.

Thursday 6th May. The conservation work skills team will be in the park again. Because we like to give them a range of jobs they will probably be doing some time up at the lighthouse and some on the beach removing horned poppies as well as a bit more turfing of planting sites.

Other news: At this year’s Coastal Restoration Trust conference, we were awarded the Award for best Community Project. Tim Parks kindly accepted it on our behalf. If you go to about 4 minutes in on this video you can even see a picture of the handover of the trophy. sites) That’s a great recognition of all the work our volunteers have done on our coast. The new roller door for the volunteer base is on its way. The current door is old and damaged and very difficult to open. Jo is just arranging an installation date with the supplier. The rabbit removal operation is well underway.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Earlier Posts

Dear members and volunteers

Rain at last. I walked the valley a week or so ago cutting off the tops of plants that were threatening to die as the valley dried out in the persistent sunshine and wind. Hopefully we have now had enough rain to keep things going until the next front comes through.

I will be out there again tomorrow, and will check out the plants near the pumphouse and see if any more need emergency help. If anyone would like to join me Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, let me know.

Our Million Metres Stream crowdfunding page is up and we have just received an amazing donation of $18,000 from Century Yuasa Batteries, as well as a number of smaller donations. So that’s a great start. Please encourage your friends and families to contribute – every dollar helps. This weekend I will be starting site preparation work for this season’s plantings. With 8000 plants to go in we have a lot of work to do, and I’d like to be well ahead of schedule just in case COVID interferes again this year.

The generator house “story hub” is now open during the day. The door unlocks in the morning and locks again automatically late afternoon, and visitors just need to push on the door to open it. We’ve had great feedback so far about the displays.

The Hutt Tramping Club did two days last week. We walked almost all the coast to ensure no poppies were flowering – only 2 plants with seedheads were found. The sheep seem to be helping by removing new flowerheads. We also removed around 15,000 plants, so we now have more areas that have no plants. Just two dense patches left to be tackled. We can gradually tackle those areas, focusing on plants that the sheep missed to ensure no seed is produced, and gradually clearing larger plants. The team also mulched and watered a lot of the new plants around the lighthouse.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Wellington is continuing its run of completely unpredictable and changeable weather.

I packed the jersey, raincoat and sunhat yesterday, and it was the sunhat I needed. We had a Conservation Volunteers day, to put wool mats around plants, and we all cooked. My lunchtime chocolate melted. And the sneezing gradually increased in frequency as the grass pollen took effect. But the ground is still mercifully wet and I’m sure the plants loved the sun and warmth. We got another large area of plants treated, so just two more small blocks to do. I’ll try to set a couple more days to get that done. Let me know if you would like an outing to do some on a particular day.

The previous weekend I needed the jersey and coat, as our entomologists’ visit was accompanied by a howling northerly on Saturday, a howling southerly on Sunday, and rain on Sunday morning. If you are ever tenting up there, I can now confirm that beside the small corrugated iron shed Is good in both winds. The wind meant that the idea of moth hunting was dropped. But the team was still able to look for katipo spiders on the south coast, confirming that they are still there and in much the same place. The plan to search Fitzroy Bay was cancelled due to the wind, and will be done some other time. Instead they searched the sheltered gully by the pumphouse for interesting things. As well as invertebrates, they found flowering mistletoe (the small one with green flowers). Rob, our biodiversity ranger, and I are working on the next plan for ecosystem work. For invertebrates our focus will be providing the habitat they need – planting the food plants they like, and adding more logs into areas. Logs provide food for some species, but for most species they provide protection from predators (mice, hedgehogs, etc) and dryness. Each species is fussy about the kind of log it likes – how rotted and how damp – so we need to add lots in different places. Katipo seem to like logs with lots of small cavities and sitting in spinifex or marram. So any time you are on the beach and there is a newly washed up log down near the waves, move it higher up where it can become an insect and lizard home.

Up at the lighthouse, things are progressing well, and the first interpretation material is now being installed. Watch this space for an announcement of the official opening of the new visitor centre. Well done to Colin for raising enough funds to get us this far, and to the GW team for their work on the project.

As well as getting the visitor centre fully operational, our main aim for this summer’s outings will be to remove all the horned poppies from the south coast and get some more lupins removed. Email me to book your summer holiday at the lighthouse volunteer base (now equipped with power, lights, microwave oven and fridge). Where else can you have the use of a beach bach in such an exciting location close to Wellington, for the low price of a few hours removing weeds from the beach?

Last week I presented our submission on the Parks Network Plan. We have already been assured that they hadn’t intended grazing licences to be just for one year, and understand the importance of having a good farming operation. Hopefully the rest of our points will be taken on board and reflected in the final plan.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Jo, our ranger, is going out to Baring Head tomorrow to do some more work on the floors of the generator house. She would love some help with cleaning out the building (presumably to remove all the mess the floor grinding is creating).

I’ll be out at the weekend, mostly doing invertebrate and plant work. But will also do whatever cleaning is left to be done.

If you are available Thursday, Saturday or Sunday to help with the building work (or putting mats around plants at the weekend), please reply all to this email and we’ll sort out times with you by email.

And if we get all that done, hopefully the first interpretation material will go in on Monday. So we are edging closer and closer to having a functioning visitors centre. Great work so far, and just a little bit more to get done.

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

We have scheduled a working bee next Tuesday up at the lighthouse, and we really need more help with the work as a lot of our regular volunteers are tied up. So if you can come along, or persuade a relative or friend to come, that will help us do the next essential work to allow us to open the visitor centre in December.

Meet at the bridge carpark at 10am, where we will pool cars for the trip to the lighthouse. If you can help out, please email

Wear old clothes or bring overalls, plus gloves if you have them. Bring your lunch and drinking water. If you have a ladder and can bring that, even better. There’s a kettle, so if you will need tea or coffee at lunchtime bring the makings with you.

After that, the next scheduled event is 28 November, when CVNZ will be running a volunteer day to get the rest of the mats around the plants in the valley. We need to get enough volunteers to get them all done before the soil starts to dry out.


Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Next event
On Friday 6 November Colin will be leading another painting day at the lighthouse, focusing on one of the outbuildings. Meet at the carpark at 9am. Let him know - – if you can help.

Well, we finally did it. Every plants that we bought or were given is now in the ground (hopefully – I did find two flaxes yesterday that were laid out on their planting sites but had been missed by the planters). And we had two lovely days of sunshine and no wind to finish what seems to have been a very windy and wet planting season.

Wednesday we had the new intake of conservation work skills trainees, who planted mahoe and kahikatea among old plantings south of Khyber Pass. Mahoe don’t like sun and exposure (surprising given how common they are on Wellington hills, but those plants generally grew up under gorse), and kahikatea don’t like wind. We have tried to find them perfect homes, but only time will tell whether they will be satisfied. We then planted toetoe along the riverbank south of the bridge, and a few on an island that is very close to the bank.

Thursday we had a corporate group – the owner and some staff from some of the Z energy stations around Wellington. They came out last year, so we went and inspected some of the plants they put in then – fortunately plenty were looking very healthy. That group got the last plants into the exclosure by the pumphouse – it’s the wettest so they will hopefully have damp soil for another month or so. And some more kahikatea along the edge of the escarpment road among older plantings.

And both days we put more mats around plants. Mike and I did a few more yesterday, after getting a lot of the leftover gear up to the lighthouse sheds. We only have a few thousand more mats to be done, so if you are out there, feel free to email me for instructions and do a few. Every one done is another plant that will be more likely to survive and grow.

Rubbish removal
One of our corporate volunteers went home with our most unusual piece of rubbish so far – an intact beanbag that had come down the river. We had collected it up and put it in a fenced area with the wool mats, because the last thing we need is a split beanbag in the river. Jo turned up at the end of the day to collect pots to go back to the nursery, and when I asked her to remove it, she managed to instead give it to a volunteer. So it will go to a good home instead of the tip.

And our beach clean-up team did another outing last weekend and removed another large pile of cray pots and other things from Fitzroy Bay.



Earlier Posts

Dear members and volunteers

I keep saying that this is the end of the planting season, but we keep finding more plants that need homes. But Jo has now dropped off the last of the plants we have been offered, and they will get in this week. We have Conservation Volunteers work skills trainees tomorrow, and a corporate group on Thursday. Feel free to join us - while we don’t have many plants to go in the ground, we have plenty needing a wool or jute mat to help them get through summer.

The plants we have received include some that need a bit of shade and/or shelter (mahoe and kahikatea), so tomorrow we’ll be finding the nicest spots south of Khyber Pass among the plants we put in a few years ago to give them. There has been some impressive growth in that area, and it will be fun to explore the area and look at what has changed. The river in that area is also changing rapidly, with a new island near Khyber Pass that is now quite large and stable, and three new islands developing further downstream. The beach that was narrow when we started planting that area is now much wider, and the toetoe behind it appear to be spreading.

Park network plan

We finalised and sent off our submission on the Parks Network Plan, and will be doing our oral presentation in late November. While much of the plan is positive, we have sought a number of significant changes, particularly:

We want to retain an area of grazing around the lighthouse, as a cultural landscape to retain the context for the lighthouse complex. It will also help protect the complex from fire and give visitors a range of experiences.
We want a different approach to retiring areas. The approach in the plan isn’t practical and won’t result in a good farming operation.
We oppose fishing native fish (which is illegal anyway, so they can’t allow it) or game bird hunting. Those activities have negative effects on the river ecosystems.
The plan provides for the proposed bridge over the river near the coastal carpark, but presumes that new tracks would be in the river valley. Anyone who has been out there in a northerly will know that the river valley is often not the nicest place to be. We envisage the new bridge allowing a circular route to be provided taking in the lighthouse and climbing rocks. That means we would want the new escarpment track to be near the lighthouse, not in the middle of Fitzroy Bay as proposed by the draft plan. We recognise, of course, that a new bridge and track down the escarpment will be expensive, so will be some years away.
The Plan doesn’t accurately reflect our ecological restoration priorities, and there is a high risk that its emphasis on creating “master plans” for work will reduce the ability to do adaptive management, learning from management work and applying what we learn to the next years work.

We have provided our submission to the Mayor of Hutt City for his information.

Some other recent work

Another great painting day recently, including starting work on the last two rooms. The Friends equipment has been sorted and stashed in the sheds.

The beach clean-up team were out again at the weekend, despite the strong northerly, and got more cray pots and other large items removed.

I managed to get 109 saltmarsh ribbonwood into the spawning site on the lighthouse side of the river. Many thanks to Jo for dropping them off at the site. There has been some natural recovery of the wetter parts of the area since the sheep were fenced out, but it’s still mostly just thick grass. So hopefully the ribbonwoods will replace some of the dense grass along the river edge with native shrubs. There will still be plenty of patches of native sedges for fish to use when spawning. The shrubs may also help reduce the rate of erosion along that bit of river edge – the bank is very undercut. Of the plantings we did just after the area was fenced, only ngaio and some sedges in the wet area have survived and thrived (mostly). Most other things haven’t survived at all. The ngaio vary from those that are 1.5 m tall to those that are still just a stick with a few leaves. It’s a good demonstration of the way fine scale variations in soils, moisture and grass competition makes all the difference. It’s clearly worth putting some effort into choosing where to put the plants and giving them some aftercare.

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

The official planting season may be over, but we’ve found a few more plants – many thanks to Miro’s nursery. So I’ll be out this weekend doing site preparation and some planting if anyone wants to join me. Heading out Friday late afternoon and home again on Sunday. Email me if you can come and help out.

21 October we have a training session for the trapping teams (early morning). It would be good to have some more people on the trapping team, as regulars or back-up. So if you are interested, especially if you can make that training session, please contact me.

21 October is also our next lighthouse working bee. Last week the team did some planting to begin the re-creation of the hedges around the houses, and made great progress with the painting. On the 21st we will be able to start work on the last two rooms. We also now have lights and security cameras operating in the generator house, so I won’t need to do painting by headlamp when overnighting (and will no longer have a good excuse for poor painting quality). If you can help out, please email

28 October is a work day with the CVNZ work skills trainees. We’ll probably be mostly in the valley doing planting and putting on wool mats. More helpers very welcome. Just let me know if you are coming so I can send details of when and where closer to the time.

29 October will be a corporate planting day, and by the end of that hopefully we will have all the plants in and maybe even all the plants with wool mats.

Tomorrow I am meeting with GW to discuss issues around the use of the lighthouse complex for various types of volunteer activities, and our submission on the draft Parks plan.

And as an aside which has nothing to do with Baring Head, if anyone wants to help clean up the Crofton Downs area of the Johnsonville railway line on the 24th, Kiwirail need a few more helpers. Email me and I’ll provide details.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

A productive day today for the last CVNZ public planting event, and that’s the official planting season over. Disappointingly, it was incredibly windy, which makes everything much harder and less pleasant, but at least the sun was shining. We got the last of the plants into the valley, leaving just a few toetoe to go into the river islands and some ribbonwood to go into the spawning site. One of the exclosure fences had failed to cope with the wind, so a small group got that back up. We now know what not to do when creating them. And we have started the process of putting mats around plants and staking the ngaio to help them cope with wind.

In contrast to today, Wednesday was a perfect day. No wind, hot sun. The Hutt Valley Tramping Club crew planted the spawning site at the river mouth, had morning tea watching the huge waves roll into the coast, planted the river edge north of the bridge, had lunch lying in the grass, did some more planting, had afternoon tea, and then took some more plants down to the coast and planted those before going home. The process was only slightly disrupted by the fact that the lessee was doing tailing, so there were sheep in the carpark waiting their turn to go into the yards.

Monday I went out with Jo and a small team to do the last plantings in Lakes Block. The deal was that I would help with that, and then they would spend any time left over at Baring Head planting ours and move the plants down to the coast for Wedensday. That worked, and even better, I was able to swap some swamp plants (some of their site was too wet for the plants they had) for some interesting things to go into the exclosures. The day started well, but by the time we got to Baring Head it was another howling gale. I feel we have had more wind than we deserve this spring. There’s a lot to be said for not scheduling dates in advance, and just going out on those rare still days between fronts.

On the way out to the Lakes we played “predict how many goats we will see”. Jo won, and we saw over 80 goats between Burdens Gate and the lighthouse. I just hope they stay there and don’t wander in our direction.

Jo is on leave at the moment, and I’m holidaying in the South Island next week. Once we are both back we will sort out the programme for the next few months. We need to get mats around plants, the lighthouse buildings painted, and start the beach weeding season. So lots of fun jobs in a great environment. The next scheduled event is the painting day on 21 October. I’ll try to organise a group to go out before that and get some more painting done that doesn’t need ladders.

Thanks to all those who have made this planting season such a success despite the late start. We have put in about 6500 plants, and we now have some plants across all the valley on the escarpment side. That’s huge progress towards our riverine forest (or even just to reduce fire risk).


Friends of Baring Head

Earlier Posts

Dear members and volunteers

Events this weekend This afternoon I’ll be out planting in the river valley, starting around 1.30pm. If you want to join us, email me before about 1pm and I’ll ensure I’m in sight at the time you expect to arrive. I’ll be in the valley probably until 4pm, and will then go up to the lighthouse and overnight.

Our painting working bee is on Sunday. Meet at the carpark at 9am to head up to the lighthouse. If you prefer planting to painting, I’ll hopefully be surplus to requirements and planting more plants. We got another 200 plants delivered last week, so plenty waiting to go in the ground.

Parks network plan consultation We are preparing our submission on the Plan. Comments welcome on the issues I listed in an earlier email, or anything else you are concerned about (or want us to applaud). Submissions due by 23 October.

We have received the following information about drop-in sessions, where you can talk to council staff and councillors and get a hard copy of the plan (it is very large).

Hope to see you at the lighthouse


Battle Hill Farm Forest ParkSaturday 19th September 11:00am – 1:00pmAt the park. Pauatahanui Pony Club Room (red building in the Dell car park area)
Akatarawa Forest, Kaitoke Regional Park, Pakuratahi ForestWednesday 23 September 4:00 - 6.30pmGreater Wellington Upper Hutt office, 1056 Fergusson Drive (beside Destiny Church)
East Harbour Regional ParkThursday 24th September 5.30 – 7:00pmLevel 1 meeting room, Eastbourne Library, 28 Rimu Street, Eastbourne
Belmont Regional ParkWednesday 30 September 6.15 – 8:00pmBelmont Domain Hall, Hardwick Smith lounge. Norfolk Street, Belmont Domain, off Kennedy Good Bridge, adjacent to Belmont Primary School
Queen Elizabeth ParkWednesday 7 October 3:00 - 6.30pmAt the park. Ramaroa, Kotare meeting room, MacKays Crossing entrance area
Wainuiomata Recreation Area, East Harbour Northern Forest trailsWednesday 14 Oct 5:00 – 7:30pmCommunity Space, Wainuiomata Library, 1 Queen Street, Wainuiomata

Earlier Posts

Dear members and volunteers

A busy three days at Baring Head with every possible weather. Thursday Jo arrived with 900 toetoe and ngaio, and Matt (our rare plants contractor) arrived with 6 Brachyglottis greyii (a yellow shrub daisy). Matt’s plants were more exciting and much easier to deal with. They are tucked up safely with wool blankets in one of the exclosures. Matt pointed to the mound and suggested that an exclosure there would be better for them. My expert exclosure builders weren’t enthusiastic about that idea, given how rocky the ground is. But we have two rolls of mesh left and a dry rocky space near the pumphouse in a V formed by two old fences that we can turn into a small exclosure for our special escarpment plants. And a pile of old carpet we can use to kill the grass.

A small team helped offload the plants to various sites across the area and then put in a few toetoe in one of the wetland areas. By then the promised southerly was arriving, and we called it a day. The school group that was coming had sensibly deferred to a better day. They probably wouldn’t have got wet, but it was quite cold from about 11am, and the kids will enjoy it far more on a warm sunny day. And I was able to get a ride up to the lighthouse with Mike ahead of the rain, and he then helped get the new fridge and microwave into the garage. So hot soup as well as toast while listening to the rain.

Thursday night was a wild southeasterly, except at 1 am when there was a brief period of calm conditions and a starry sky. But then the second front came through, and while it had stopped raining by 10am (other than a brief flurry of hail just after the ranger had dragged me out into the cold to look at weed trees), the wind persisted much of the day. That created some interesting conditions for the Hutt Valley Tramping Club team who were finishing the third exclosure. They got that up and a large number of plants in the ground and had escaped before another rain shower came through. We had intended to plant some islands, but when I was asked where they were, I pointed to the raging brown torrent downstream and said “under there somewhere”. Because so much of the catchment is in farms and urban areas, the river rises and falls very quickly. By Friday morning it was almost back to normal levels, although still dirty.

Friday night was cold, wet and windy again, but Saturday was picture perfect. A small group got another large lot of plants in the ground and the beach clean-up team had a fun time on the south coast.

And over the three days Jo and I made some decisions on what pest plants to remove first around the lighthouse, Mike replaced the taps on the water tanks, and I got more green paint on the doors and a bit of pink on the walls. Murray from the tramping club team asked how many doors there are, given that I always seem to be painting doors, and the answer is that there are only 5, but I had to put a 5th coat on one on Friday to satisfy the quality control officer’s standards.

Which brings me to our next scheduled working bee, which is painting on Sunday 20th. And if the weather is suitable I’ll be out on Saturday doing more planting, including hopefully planting a few ngaio into our new fenced off gully on the south coast. We then have a major planting day on the 26th. If we can get some more planting done before then, we will get the last 900 or so plants from Rimutaka delivered and in the ground on the 26th. We will then just have small numbers of other plants from other places, including some coastal ribbonwood from Berhampore nursery to go into the area around the coastal lagoon.

Thanks again to all those who came out and got lots done.

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

A quick update on the events later this week.

Thursday at 9.15 Jo will arrive at Baring Head with the next 900 plants, which will be distributed across the planting areas. We have a small Eastbourne school coming at 10am to help with planting and putting mats on plants. It would be great to have other volunteers to help get plants into the ground. The forecast is for fine weather until early afternoon. Our rare plants contractor will also be there doing more work, and we will be planting the first of the yellow flowered shrub daisy (Brachyglottis greyii) that he has propagated from the few plants left on a bluff where the sheep couldn’t reach them.

I will then stay overnight, retreating from the valley when the rain arrives and doing painting in the generator house. Friday morning Jo and I will do a walk through of the area around the lighthouse with a landscaping contractor who is doing work on the Police land to see whether there are other jobs that can be done while he is up there with a small digger. Once the nasty weather has moved away (and I’ve done my work meetings) I’ll then go down to the valley and do more planting and preparation work.

Saturday at 10am is our official planting event. Please promote this among your family and friends. The forecast is good, so it should be a nice day out. We’ll meet at the bridge carpark at 10am. If you have gardening gloves bring those, and feel free to bring a spade, but we will have some. Spend an hour or two planting and then go for a walk and enjoy the lambs and views around the lighthouse. We’ll be finishing up about 1 pm.

If you know you are coming on any of those days, please email to let me know to help with planning.

Friends of Baring Head

As promised, here’s the corrected programme for the next month. As always, we are happy to host a group on other days if these dates don’t suit.

Wednesday 26 August We have the trainees up at the lighthouse doing painting work. I’ll be out doing more planting preparation. If anyone else can join me we can get also the exclosure fences sorted.

Thursday 10 Sept The ranger will be delivering 900 plants. Will be good to have a couple of people to help offload them from the trailer. I’ll probably then stay out there and do more prep work on Friday ready for Saturday.

Saturday 12 September Planting day. If we can get a good turn-out we should get most of the 900 into the ground.

Sunday 20th September Working bee to get the next lot of painting done.

22 September (Date TBC) Final plant delivery if we have no plants left. If we don’t get enough in before then, we’ll need to do a further planting day in October.

Saturday 26 September Planting day, probably managed and advertised by Conservation Volunteers NZ.

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Many thanks to all those who turned out on Saturday at very short notice, including some of the trainee team who came out as volunteers. Great to see their passion for the work. And thanks to Andrew who stayed on and helped get in another block of plants after the rest of the team had left. I stayed overnight and polished off most of the leftovers, so we now have around 3600 plants in the ground. Spring is definitely here – lambs starting to pop out, and I nearly suffered heat stroke on Sunday in my wool top. I’m not used to there being no breeze (or gale) to cool me down. The carparks were full and there was a constant stream of visitors. We may find ourselves short of parking space in summer if the trend of increasing visitor numbers continues.

Jo was delivering another 900 plants to the site this morning, and we have another planting event on Wednesday. This is the last planting day for our trainees, and with good turnout of volunteers we could get maybe half the plants in. Not a lot of Ngaio, and not long walking distances, so a lot of the planting will be fairly fast. Please email me if you can come. Meeting 10am, and planting north of the bridge. After that we have tentative bookings for the 12th and 19th.

And if you have a small group of friends and want to do an outing on a day that suits you, just let me know.

We now have lights and electricity in the volunteer base (i.e. the garage), and we’ll next be putting in a bench, sink, microwave and fridge. So summer overnights will be quite luxurious this year. The cellphone tower work has been completed. And the new fence around a gully on the south coast is also nearly finished. I’ll try to save a few Ngaio to add into it when the stock are out.

Some of you were asking about the painting work at the lighthouse. Jo will set another date to get the rest of the interior of the generator house painted, probably in September.

Hope to see you Wednesday.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Surprisingly, the planting day on Wednesday happened, and even more surprisingly we had no rain (after the trainees arrived – I did get sleeted on while holding a gate open before then). And while it wasn’t warm, we were a bit sheltered and didn’t freeze. Conservation Volunteers NZ had their new batch of trainees out, and they did a great job – 508 plants in the ground. So that’s about 1000 done already.

We have another event next Wednesday, 8 July, with CVNZ volunteers. Jo will be delivering our next lot of plants, which will include ngaio and toetoe. It would be great to have some extra helpers for that – we could aim to get the next 1000 plants in. Meet 9.30 am at the bridge carpark. We’ll be working between the bridge and the pumphouse. Let me know if you can come. If you need a ride out, let me know.

I’ll be going out before then to turf more planting sites if anyone is keen on an outing.

Jo drove me home with another load of jute matting and protectors to be cut up, and we went via the Pencarrow coast. The sea was spectacular, and was flowing into the lakes – the first time I’ve seen that. Looking back towards Baring Head it looked as if the climbing rocks were getting a lot of wave action. I’m sure there will have been a lot of big changes along the coast, and hopefully lots more logs for our katipo to live in. North of our boundary the beach had changed massively due to the quarry digging some more holes in it. The sea was busy filling them with water, and will probably have re-shaped them by now.

The initial road fixing work has been completed, and it was much better than last time I used it.

Here’s hoping for some sunshine next week.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Planting event this Wednesday This will be our first public planting event, run with Conservation Volunteers and GW. The GW notice on facebook said it starts at 9am, so ranger and I will be out there then. But CVNZ won’t get there until 10am, so if you aren’t an early morning person, you could arrive then. Meet at the bridge carpark, and we are planting about five minutes walk down the valley. We’ll have all the gear, so just bring suitable clothes, gardening gloves if you have them, and lunch. We’ve already turfed the grass off the sites and it’s amazingly easy digging, so will be a pleasant day out.

If you can come, please let me know so I can ensure we have enough gear and snacks.

Lighthouse event
We are currently aiming to have a working bee at the lighthouse on 17 July. We need help to get the last of the building work done inside the generator house and do some painting of the interior. The electrician will be putting in the wiring and lights. Most of the interpretation material for the fist stage of the visitor centre is ready, and we are currently sorting out an automatically opening door to allow public access. More details to come closer to the event.

Recent work and news
I was out yesterday. We did a bit more planting, which means we have so far got about 550 plants in the ground.

We then went to look at the lighthouse. The house that is being painted looks amazing (pity I forgot to take the camera).

The road to the lighthouse has been upgraded. They also fixed the powerline road, which had been totally destroyed by the recent rain. It now has drains to stop the water turning the lower part of the road into a stream.

We have commissioned a report on what we should be doing to restore the river. I’ve received some initial draft material, and they have concluded that the river was an anastomosing river before the 1855 earthquake. Those sorts of rivers have multiple stable channels, and are very rare – most rivers either have one main channel or are braided. So that’s quite exciting, and it explains the strange pattern of old channels in the area we will be planting on Wednesday. We are planting the flaxes so they will highlight the edges of the old channels.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Open Day Yesterday was the open day. In previous years, Greater Wellington has run a summer events programme where each park did two events. This year each park had an open day, and a bus was provided to get people to the park.

The weather gods were kind, or perhaps NIWA did some organising, and we had clear skies and almost no wind. A 4WD club provided a shuttle service to and from the lighthouse area, where visitors could see inside the generator house, the house we cleaned last weekend, the lighthouse and the NIWA air monitoring station. Visitors were also encouraged to look at our biodiversity work in the river area and visit Fitzroy Bay. A steady flow of people came by bus, car and bike.

There are a few things we will do differently next year, but overall it worked well and we got good feedback. If any of you attended and have feedback, that would help us in our planning work.

Many thanks to all the trustees and volunteers who helped on the day.

Planting season This year we have 7500 plants coming from the nursery. We will start preparing planting sites later this month, and Jo has already put in a plant pond. The corporate groups are already booking their planting days.

We don’t, however, have all the money we need to pay for everything yet – the plants, wool mats to suppress weeds and mulch plants, protectors to keep the hares at bay, and funds to pay Conservation Volunteers NZ to run the volunteer events for us. So please promote our Million Metres crowdsourcing project.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear Members and Volunteers

There’s been great stuff happening at the lighthouse.

Jo sent me an email with photos of the Rotary painting outing last week, but for some reason the email won’t forward in a useful way. So I’ve given up struggling with technology and put them into the attached document. The shed behind the house closest to the lighthouse has been painted and looks lovely. And there’s been more work inside the generator house. Many thanks to the team.

And yesterday our regular working bee cleaned the house that will be viewed by the public on the open day next weekend. For a house that has been closed up for 40 years, it wasn’t too bad, but it took the six of us about 5 hours to get it all done, practice using the radios, and do a few other things to prepare for the big day. And of course eat the fruit salad in the shade of the macrocarpa.

The forecast for the open day is looking promising, so encourage your friends to come along. They don’t need to book, but if they want to get the bus from Wainuiomata, it will be first in first served, so get there early.

Next week we’ll be starting the preparation work for this year’s Million Metres Streams project. Which must mean that we are heading into autumn, although it not noticeable yet. The paddocks are incredibly dry, and it was crispy hot yesterday, so I was glad we were working inside.

And the following week I’ll be out there with our first official “artist in residence”. Di Harries, a printmaker and bookbinder from Whanganui, will spend some time there, probably working on a kids activity book.

We have cancelled the scheduled working bee for April, given availability of trustees and the complications created by Easter.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Earlier Posts

Dear members and volunteers

Next working bees 3 February we will finish the inside paint preparation work on the generator house. Let me know if you can help out that day.

We then have a regular working bee on 15 February. Probably another day when we do a mix of jobs at various sites, depending on what the weather is doing and what is becoming urgent.

7 March we will have a working bee that will be preparing everything for the big open day (see below).

18 April will be a normal working bee again.

Mid-March we also start the preparation work for the winter planting season. That will largely involve putting down wool mats to kill grass and clearly mark where plants are to be put in. We are using Conservation Volunteers for that, but extra assistance will always be welcome.

And of course we can easily arrange work for a group at any time, so persuade a few friends or workmates to spend some time on the beach cutting lupins and admiring nature.

Open day 14 March This year instead of the normal summer events there will be a major park open day, with bus transport provided from Eastbourne along the coast. Encourage your friends to come along.

We have a rough plan A for this, which will involve people walking along the river and coast, with stops to learn more about the area and the work we are doing, and then using 4WD shuttles to get people up the hill to the lighthouse. We have not yet worked out our Plan B for if it turns out to be a miserable, windy, wet day. As if it would dare.

It would be great to have lots of volunteers to help with the day, including to ensure people don’t get lost, and help with getting people on the buses and 4WD shuttles.

Anniversary weekend work We had a very productive Wellington anniversary weekend. Ben overnighted Saturday, and cut some more karo from around the lighthouse, which I then converted into plant mulch on Monday.

Sunday morning three volunteers were lined up ready to help Jo get the generator room prepared for painting. That meant donning protective gear and scraping or sanding off flaking lead paint. Not as nasty a job as I was expecting, and we had it all done in about two hours. Fortunately Ben was tall and unafraid of heights, so the high stud wasn’t a problem with the high quality ladder we bought with Nikau Foundation funding.

We then drove and walked downto the river, and provided wet wool mats to the rest of the plants in the planting area below the powerline road. That group of plants got badly attacked by hares just after planting, but the survivors are doing well, and should now cope with summer. Which so far is being very benign. We were working in low cloud that was very wetting, and even the road puddles filled, so that should have made a big difference to soil moisture. And it is certainly keeping the fire risk down.

Sunday evening and Monday morning Ellen and I did more work on the coast, mostly dealing to lupins and poppies. One of the great things about overnighting is that you can avoid the midday sun, so by the time Mike arrived to do his trap line at lunchtime on Monday, we were relaxing in the shade trying to work out how to turn marram we had weeded out of the coast into a basket and eating fruit.

Trapping Catch rates are high at the moment. Hedgehogs, rats, mice, weasels and stoats. Plus the odd small rabbit. You may have caught the news item about dotterels at Eastbourne, where a single cat appears to have prevented any chicks surviving. While we don’t have a formal monitoring system for our birds, it looks like we have managed to get a number of chicks through the nesting stage, despite the fact that we know there are still some feral cats in the park. Hopefully our cats and stoats are focusing on the rabbits that are readily available.

Rare plants I’ve had a report from the contractor, Matt Ward. The cuttings of the Brachyglottis greyii shrub and the white rata have taken, so we will have some more plants of those to go back into the wild later in the year. The Cook Strait kowhai seeds have also germinated. Matt visited the area again recently, but it was too early for seeds of the other species we are focusing on (like the matagouri). He has started an inaturalist project to track when things are flowering, so if you are out there and have the inaturalist app, please record any flowers and seeds you see.

Hope to see you all out there soon


Dear members and volunteers

It was a glorious day at Baring Head yesterday. I was out with Rob Masters, our biodiversity officer, and Frances Forsyth. Frances is a freshwater ecologist who we are employing to provide advice on how to improve instream river habitat for fish and aquatic invertebrates. She didn’t get to see the river at its sparkling best, but water levels weren’t as high as I had expected after the rain. And the new plantings will have enjoyed the rain.

The river is in one sense very young - it only started cutting the current channel in 1855, and is still actively changing itself. It also suffers from a lot of fine sediment inputs that are not natural at all, and has lost its forests. As a result it lacks a lot of the habitats that fish need, such as cobble beds to lay eggs in, shaded backwaters to shelter in, logs and roots to hide among, and so on.

We have already made a big difference to the river by fencing it off. With stock excluded there has been significant recovery of vegetation along the edge, which has largely halted bank slumping. What we now need to decide is whether there are things we can do to improve other aspects of the river. One option, for example, is to add a lot more logs.

While looking at the Khyber Pass area, Rob spotted a large, flowering plant of Senecio greyii (a shrub with yellow daisy flowers and grey leaves). I had thought all the ones we planted there years ago had died, but this one obviously survived. Hopefully it will produce seedlings and create a new population. It will obviously be worth doing some more searching of the area to see if there are other survivors. Anyone involved in the planting work at Khyber Pass will remember that it was a very depressing process, putting plants into rocky ground and then watching them succumb to the wind. But those that did survive are now starting to grow well, and the ones on the river edge in particular are in fine form. So having sworn that I wouldn’t do any more planting there, I am now keen to do some infilling with species such as kowhai where we now have good shelter and a bit of moisture (and preferably dirt rather than rock to dig into).

Working Bee on Sunday We have our final working bee for the year on Sunday. Meet at the bridge carpark at 10am.

I will be discussing the priority jobs with Jo (and of course checking the weather forecast), but we have some more wool mats to go around plants while the ground is still wet, so that will be one priority task. Tim found the first flowering plant of horned poppy last week, so possibly a nice walk around the coast as well.

It would be great to have a good turnout, so we can get lots of jobs done. Don’t forget sunscreen and hat.

If you know you are coming, please email me. If you need a ride out, or can offer a ride out, let me know.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Recent work Most of you missed a great day out yesterday, although a little less wind would have been nice. But it was a northerly, and we were mostly sheltered on the south coast.

We filled the trailer with tyres, a cray pot and old nets, as well as several bags of plastic. So that’s all the heavy stuff out of the south coast. The beach cleaning bag attached to the post where the track goes down to the lagoon is empty and ready for rubbish picked up over summer. And if you see a new tyre, please move it up to the edge of the road so it can be easily picked up.

We also mulched a few plants, using wool mats, oxygen weed, water celery and lupin (which weed depending on where the plants were). There are a few more bags of wool mats stashed out there for next time we are out, and feel free to provide weeds to any of the new plants. It’s a surprisingly slow job to mulch them properly, by the time the mats are soaked in the river, lupin cut, plant found, and it all combined into a wet blanket that will hopefully last the summer. But it is already getting very dry out there, despite the rain, so the more plants we can help the better.

We also re-photographed photo points for the million metres project and did a video to go on the million metres website. So a productive day.

Last week Jo, Rob (our biodiversity officer), Colin, the lessee and I looked at the south coast fencing site, and agreed where the fence will go. Rob’s spray team were also out there doing the last of their scheduled lupin spraying, so that’s another section of beach cleared.

Awards evening Colin, Tim and I attended the Wellington Airport/Wellington Community Trust awards event. We had won the Hutt City environment category, but didn’t win the regional award, which went to HUHA (an animal rescue group). But a great evening surrounded by groups doing amazing community work. The overall winner was a group that supports rainbow students in schools. I confess that my reaction is always to wonder why people take on difficult volunteer projects when they could be out at Baring Head enjoying the beach and killing lupins. But it’s fortunate for society that we all have different tastes.

Next event and summer work Our next working bee will be 15 December. Yesterday I saw one horned poppy that was thinking about flowering, so we might walk the coast and ensure there will be no seed production. Numbers are low, so we need to keep the pressure on to get to eradication.

The lead paint is currently being removed from the houses. Once that is done, we will be doing work up at the lighthouse, including painting and building repairs. Any offers of help gratefully received.

And don’t forget to book your summer “holiday” at the lighthouse. We have lots of fun jobs for people to do, and overnighting is definitely the best way to get work done while enjoying the location and avoiding the midday sun.

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Working bee We have a working bee this weekend, Sunday at 10am. Probably working on the coast doing weeds and moving a lot of rubbish up to where the ranger can get to it. When I was down there recently visitors had piled up a lot of tyres at high tide, so it would be good to get rid of them before a big storm surge takes them away again. But I will hopefully also have some more wool mats to go around plants, to help them get through the summer. It’s starting to feel summery out there, and it doesn’t take long for Baring Head to dry out.

We’ll meet at 10am at the bridge carpark. Weather is looking good, so bring sunscreen and hat, as well as the coat (you never know quite what it will be like). And sturdy shoes/boots as we will probably be walking down the valley.

If you know you can come, please reply to this email so we can plan for the day. If you need a ride, let us know. Jo is picking me up at Woburn about 9am.

Other news We have completed a plan for next year’s planting season, which will (hopefully) get another large part of the river valley planted. Mike, one of our regular volunteers, has finished putting hare protectors on the new plants that went in this year, so that’s all of this year’s planting work done.

I’ll be out tomorrow with the ranger and GW team looking at possible locations for a new fence to protect part of the south coast escarpment, including a large gully. Once that is done, we will have protected from grazing almost all the significant ecosystem types.

Colin is busy organising the next round of volunteer work at the lighthouse, including painting buildings and doing minor repairs to the sheds. There will be plenty of small jobs that need to be done by volunteers staying up there over the summer, including helping the new plants in the shelter belt survive the rabbits and sun.

The summer trapping season has started, with the trap lines being visited more often, particularly around the dotterel colony. Which seems to now be most of the southern beach – there were very few birds in the fenced area last time I looked.

Look forward to seeing you on Sunday

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

This is a quick newsletter, largely to advise that the working bee this weekend has been deferred. Jo is now tied up on other work, and I have a group of volunteers planning to go out on 31 October, who can do the main job I had planned for this weekend. So the working bee on the 19th won’t be happening. But if you’d like to join us on 31 October, let me know and I’ll send you the details closer to the time.

That day is also our AGM, which will be at Hutt City Council at 4.30pm.

Hutt City Council has kindly agreed that we can continue to hold meetings there, despite us no longer having a trustee who is a councillor. Gwen decided not to re-stand for council this term, and is looking forward to having more time to spend out at the lighthouse.

The effect of the council elections on our work is not yet known. We have had a strong and broad relationship with Hutt City and Greater Wellington. The outgoing Mayor and Chair were strong supporters of our work, and we hope to have an equally positive relationship with the incoming councils. One of the things we will discuss at the AGM is a possible on-site briefing for incoming councillors. We have provided briefings and site visits to past councils, and had great feedback.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

We finished the last planting job yesterday, in rather windy conditions. We were putting in mostly Olearia paniculata around the pumphouse, plus some kahikatea along the river terraces. Despite our problem with plant supply, in the end we got over 4500 plants in the ground this season. So a great effort by all the volunteer teams over many months.

Jo, Jimmy and I visited Rimutaka Prison nursery a couple of weeks ago to look at their operations and reassure ourselves that we will get enough plants next year. A very impressive set-up, and our plants were looking lovely. So as long as nothing goes wrong (this year all the nurseries had trouble with toetoe suddenly dying off) we should have more than enough plants for our 7000 target.

Yesterday’s outing was with Rob, our biodiversity officer. A key goal was to find, GPS and mark the Muelenbeckia astonii plants we put in a year or so ago. These are offspring of our two old plants at Khyber Pass. One of those has recently died (although it may resprout from the base if we are lucky). The cause isn’t clear, but they are very old, and it reinforces the need to have a cohort of new plants coming on. The thick grass made finding the plantings very difficult, despite the fact that we had given them wool mats previously. Without the wool mats we probably wouldn’t have found them at all, as at least it meant we knew were looking in the right place. And even then we only found those where I could remember their location fairly accurately – reinforcing the need for GPS coordinates. They now have new mats and markers. Over summer we will keep renewing their protection from grass, and feed them, in the hopes of getting good growth.

He also took coordinates for an old mans beard plant that will be killed next time his spray team is in the block. This is not a weed we see much, so every plant we find needs to be taken out. The lupin control his team is doing on the south coast is making a difference, and reportedly the dotterels have moved further towards the climbing rocks in the areas that are now open and suitable for them.

We also looked at the south coast gully that is due to be fenced off with funding from DOC. Rob and Jo hadn’t been down there before, and we had two key questions to answer – where would the fence go and did it need a specialist contractor. We agreed that ideally we would have a fence lower down the slope, taking in three gullies and a good range of habitats. There will now be some work to do on costing and consideration of the effect on the grazing lease before we can decide on an optimal approach.

We also took the chance while Jo was there with an empty trailer to clear out the beach clean-up bag at the bottom of the powerline track, and pick up a cray pot and some other stuff that has been piled up. Most of it went out to the tip, but we didn’t factor in the wind well enough, and some escaped on the way up the hill, despite being in a wool sack and under a craypot (which also escaped) . I have a team of volunteers in this weekend, and I’ll ask them to try to round up the escapees and move more of the rubbish up from the beach to where the vehicle can easily go. Don’t forget if you are on the coast that we have two clean-up stations – one at the bottom of the powerline track (a bag nailed to the sign) and one at the Fitzroy Bay end of the road over the hill (a bag by the fence). So you can collect litter and just leave it there to be removed. And tyres etc put by the road can be removed easily when other work is being done down there. Just put them where they are obvious.

The end of the planting season feels very much like the start of summer. So we’ll now be focusing on plant care, painting the buildings at the lighthouse, and weed control on the beach. Next event is Saturday 19 October. We’ll meet at the Bridge carpark at 10am. We’ll probably be focusing on plant care work, unless Jo has other jobs she needs done (and of course it will depend a bit on the weather). There will also be a Conservation Volunteers work day on 22 October.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Dear trustees, members and volunteers

Under our Trust deed we need to have at least two meetings a year of the trustees. Traditionally we have a lot more meetings, and use one of them as an annual meeting to review the accounts and carry out other AGM tasks. In the past we have included a speaker and encouraged members to attend. This year we are hoping to set up a public talk on the lighthouse complex, probably in early 2020. So rather than have a talk at the AGM, we will be just having a strategy session to discuss the next block of work we hope to achieve. Members and volunteers would be very welcome to attend and participate in that discussion.

If you would like to see the financial and chair’s reports, please email me and I will forward them to you (once they are complete).

This year’s annual review meeting will be on 31 October 2019 at Hutt City Council at 4.30 pm. When you arrive wait at the sitting area by the main front door. If the venue changes (noting that we have elections coming up so HCC arrangements may change), I will send out a notice. But if you are coming, email me a couple of days before so I can advise of any new arrangements.

The agenda is:

Minutes of last meeting
Financial report and related matters, and annual accounts
Confirmation of resolution related to the affixing of the Common Seal to the deed for the DOC community fund grant
Chair’s report and discussion of strategy/work plan for 2019/20
Appointment of secretary
General business
Retiring to a su Skip to content Using Gmail with screen readers Message sent. Baring Head news Inbox x Paula Warren

12:37 (9 hours ago)

to Jo

Dear members and volunteers

We finished the last planting job yesterday, in rather windy conditions. We were putting in mostly Olearia paniculata around the pumphouse, plus some kahikatea along the river terraces. Despite our problem with plant supply, in the end we got over 4500 plants in the ground this season. So a great effort by all the volunteer teams over many months.

Jo, Jimmy and I visited Rimutaka Prison nursery a couple of weeks ago to look at their operations and reassure ourselves that we will get enough plants next year. A very impressive set-up, and our plants were looking lovely. So as long as nothing goes wrong (this year all the nurseries had trouble with toetoe suddenly dying off) we should have more than enough plants for our 7000 target.

Yesterday’s outing was with Rob, our biodiversity officer. A key goal was to find, GPS and mark the Muelenbeckia astonii plants we put in a year or so ago. These are offspring of our two old plants at Khyber Pass. One of those has recently died (although it may resprout from the base if we are lucky). The cause isn’t clear, but they are very old, and it reinforces the need to have a cohort of new plants coming on. The thick grass made finding the plantings very difficult, despite the fact that we had given them wool mats previously. Without the wool mats we probably wouldn’t have found them at all, as at least it meant we knew were looking in the right place. And even then we only found those where I could remember their location fairly accurately – reinforcing the need for GPS coordinates. They now have new mats and markers. Over summer we will keep renewing their protection from grass, and feed them, in the hopes of getting good growth.

He also took coordinates for an old mans beard plant that will be killed next time his spray team is in the block. This is not a weed we see much, so every plant we find needs to be taken out. The lupin control his team is doing on the south coast is making a difference, and reportedly the dotterels have moved further towards the climbing rocks in the areas that are now open and suitable for them.

We also looked at the south coast gully that is due to be fenced off with funding from DOC. Rob and Jo hadn’t been down there before, and we had two key questions to answer – where would the fence go and did it need a specialist contractor. We agreed that ideally we would have a fence lower down the slope, taking in three gullies and a good range of habitats. There will now be some work to do on costing and consideration of the effect on the grazing lease before we can decide on an optimal approach.

We also took the chance while Jo was there with an empty trailer to clear out the beach clean-up bag at the bottom of the powerline track, and pick up a cray pot and some other stuff that has been piled up. Most of it went out to the tip, but we didn’t factor in the wind well enough, and some escaped on the way up the hill, despite being in a wool sack and under a craypot (which also escaped) . I have a team of volunteers in this weekend, and I’ll ask them to try to round up the escapees and move more of the rubbish up from the beach to where the vehicle can easily go. Don’t forget if you are on the coast that we have two clean-up stations – one at the bottom of the powerline track (a bag nailed to the sign) and one at the Fitzroy Bay end of the road over the hill (a bag by the fence). So you can collect litter and just leave it there to be removed. And tyres etc put by the road can be removed easily when other work is being done down there. Just put them where they are obvious.

The end of the planting season feels very much like the start of summer. So we’ll now be focusing on plant care, painting the buildings at the lighthouse, and weed control on the beach. Next event is Saturday 19 October. We’ll meet at the Bridge carpark at 10am. We’ll probably be focusing on plant care work, unless Jo has other jobs she needs done (and of course it will depend a bit on the weather). There will also be a Conservation Volunteers work day on 22 October.

Paula Warren


Friends of Baring Head

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itable place for a drink/food

Paula Warren
Chair and Secretary
Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

It must be summer, as I am feeling a bit sunburned, and it definitely wasn’t wind – another still day today even at Khyber Pass.

Saturday we had our monthly working bee, which was to deliver the last of the plants to the planting sites.

There was a slight hiccup when Jo found that the fob she had for the gate at the Miro nursery didn’t work, so her trailer of plants was trapped inside. Eventually a kind GNS person arrived and let her in, but doing two trips wasn’t an option, so she had to fill the trailer, and every space in the ute with as many plants as possible, and leave the rest. I’d been at the lighthouse with two volunteers on Friday night, so we dug out some tauhinu from the road edges and filled in the time until Jo could get there planting those into the river valley.

Another hiccup was that two volunteers went to the wrong carpark, and when we finally connected up, they had a dog. Turns out the dog was rescued from the road, and some clever networking by Jo eventually got the dog back to its owner, who lives across the road from the carpark. It was clearly the week for lost animals, as today we needed to undo the bolts on the stormwater cover in the carpark to rescue a paradise duck that must have come up the pipe from the river. It had clearly not enjoyed it’s time trapped there, but could still fly once pulled out. When we checked again at the end of the day, it had been replaced by a frog, which wasn’t rescued and seemed happy.

But once the plants arrived on Saturday, plant placing went well. The sun shone, the wind stayed away, we got the plants stashed in suitable places, and got a lot of kahikatea in the ground along the river edge. And then my companions and I retired to the lighthouse to cool down, drink wine, and plant the plants that needed to go in up there. Sunday was less kind for our beach expedition, but it was still fun. I looked at a gully we are going to fence off, and checked for horned poppies (almost no seedlings).

Today Conservation Volunteers NZ were out with two van-loads of workers, and we planted most of the plants, including the final delivery by Jo. I had gone out last night with another volunteer, and we got a few in the ground before he headed home, and then I spent the evening and this morning pre-digging holes at the lighthouse. Too many holes in the end, but I’ll fill the rest with tauhinu on the next visit. But even with that head start, we still have two groups of plants not yet in the ground. I will try to do that job later this week, and get protectors on the plants at the lighthouse that missed out. So if you are keen for an outing, let me know.

It was the first time I had visited the river edge behind the Khyber Pass knoll since we did some plantings there some years ago. It was encouraging to find some very healthy old plantings, including a kowhai. And the vegetation on the knoll has recovered well with the sheep out.

On Saturday we also cleaned out the sheds behind the lighthouse keeper’s house (since it would have been a waste to send the trailer home empty) – old guttering, a large collection of tennis ball containers, a lot of pest animal skeletons, and various other unsavoury objects headed for the tip. We now just need to do some painting to have a shed ready to use. And we now have power to the outside of the generator house (although not turned on yet, as it needs a final check). It’s always great to go out and see progress.

Our next working bee is 19 October. Possibly doing work to get our plants ready for summer.

'Paula Warren

Dear members and volunteers

Planting work The attached photo is of the youngest member of the corporate group (from Ricoh) who put in 640 plants on 23 August, supervised by Conservation Volunteers NZ. I attended to (hopefully) ensure they went in the right places, as Jo is on holiday. That finished all the plants that we had bought for the Million Metres plantings.

20190829TreePlanting022.jpg: 1024x683, 154k (2019 Sep 02 00:00)
Ricoh group member tree planting

Miro have offered the last of the plants they have in their nursery for our site, so we’ll have one or two more planting events. Those are mostly trees (e.g. kahikatea) that need to go into sheltered sites, so they will be scattered among earlier plantings, which will take more time. Others will go into the lighthouse shelterbelt.

No sign of new hare damage, but it is probably only a matter of time before they reinvade the area where hares were shot. I saw one near the pumphouse when searching for rare plants there. So we’ve been using hare protector nets on the most vulnerable plants. We have been experimenting with several versions. The wire hoops and light mesh are not working well. They are fiddly to put on, and the wind rips the mesh even if you secure it through the wire to stop it being blown off. And the hares can push it down. So in our latest planting we tried two other options. One is a heavy mesh that stands up on its own, with bamboo poles. The other is coconut fibre and bamboo. The latter has the advantage of being biodegradable, but won’t be able to be re-used, and is more expensive. Next time I’m out I’ll see how they are performing.

Lighthouse work The painting work on the generator house and garage has been finished. We have pulled together enough money and volunteer contributions to allow the best two sheds to be stripped and painted, which will then allow us to fix them up for storing equipment. That work will hopefully start soon.

Next event Our next working bee is Saturday 21 September. Probably planting trees along the river edge, or doing planting at the lighthouse.

I’m keen to get the trees in as soon as possible, so if you have a small group who wants to go out on a day that suits you, let me know.

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Last night was the Hutt City Council community awards ceremony, where Friends of Baring Head was announced as the winner in the Heritage and Environment category.

This award is a great recognition of the work that our trustees, members, donors and volunteers have together achieved over the last 9 years.

When I was posing for a photo with the Mayor at the end, he commented on how close we had come to losing Baring Head. And it is true. If it wasn’t for the pressure created by citizens, Baring Head would now be subdivided private land, and the lighthouse complex largely demolished. Instead we have an amazing and popular park, and are well on our way to having a fully restored set of buildings.

The other thought that crossed my mind as I listened to what the other award winners do was that we have a lot more fun. It’s not all fun, but there’s nothing quite like wandering the coast looking for horned poppies on a fine day to make the world seem a wonderful place.

We now go into the finals for the region.

Thank you again to all those who have contributed to allow us to achieve so much.

Paula Warren Chair FOBH

Dear members and volunteers

It’s been a little while since I wrote, but that’s because I’ve been on holiday in Taranaki rather than because nothing has been happening. I got to enjoy some lovely vegetation on the mountain (although mostly in the rain), but the coast we visited was definitely not as exciting as Baring Head, and had a lot more marram.

Next event We have a corporate group doing our next bit of river planting on Saturday. We are expecting about 60 people, so that will get quite a few plants in the ground.

On that day we also have the Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club coming in to do an overnight working bee and visit. They will be focusing on beach weeding and rubbish removal, but will also plant the carpark and do a bit of planting work around the lighthouse.

More helpers very welcome for either Saturday or Sunday to join us on the beach. Let me know if you can come.

Talks I did a talk to the Hutt Tramping Club a couple of weeks ago, and they are very interested in becoming involved. If you have a group who might like to know more about Baring Head and how they can become involved, let me know.

Painting the buildings The painting preparation work has been going well, and with luck the contractor will have finished the lead paint removal by the weekend.

Planting work We got the first lot of plants in the ground, and voracious hares immediately shortened them. After some debate of what to do about that, we are tackling the problem on three fronts. A pest control expert has been in and shot about 30 hares, plus some other pests that showed up at the wrong time. We have put rabbit protectors around a lot of the plants. And this weekend we will be putting some hare repellent on the new flax plantings to see if that works. Our general experience is that hares cause problems when plants first go in, but with most species they lose interest after the first few months. Presumably either the plant develops more toxins, or the growth of grass around them makes them less obvious. Taupata seem to continue to be eaten forever, but react by producing smaller leaves and growing slowly rather than dying.

Katipo We also have a katipo expert coming out this weekend to look at our habitats and population. A research programme is being designed for the Wairarapa coast, and we are looking at whether we include our population in that work. We have also decided to move some logs up from the lower beach to the terraces to increase the amount of invertebrate habitat, and will start that work (with small logs) this weekend.

Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

The next event is this Sunday, 19 May. We will meet at the coastal carpark at 10am, and get the dotterel fence in. That involves walking along the beach, pulling out and then carrying to the trailer the warratahs that hold the fence up. Fortunately most are plastic, so not too heavy. And the easy job of winding up the string. Dress for any weather, and in case it is windy, I suggest long trousers and sleeves to reduce sand blasting effects.

Please email Jo jo [period] greenman [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz if you know you can come.

And if you need a ride out, email me.

Then we’ll head up to the lighthouse and sort stuff in the buildings ready for the painters. We need to move all the volunteer gear out of the generator house and into the garage or other places so they have an empty space to play in.

Today we got a lot of the plants to the planting site, and did some laying out ready for the volunteers tomorrow. It was incredibly windy and cold, but fine. We’ve set up a black plastic bathtub arrangement so we can keep the plants from drying out between planting days. And the sunset coming back over the Wainuiomata hill was spectacular.

Paula Warren

Dear members and volunteers

Planting season is upon us. After some problems with the weather, the spot spraying has all been done, and 500 sites adzed instead. We are trialling various approaches this year, and hoping that we can find cost-effective alternatives to the spot spraying, although I have yet to get the data from Jo to find out whether the adzing took a lot longer than the spraying. One advantage of the adzing is that those sites are ready, while we will have to wait a bit to plant where we have sprayed, as the grass takes a while to die.

We had a serious problem with getting plants this year, as we ordered a lot of plants, but the nursery didn’t manage to produce them all. But we have searched the nurseries and have enough to keep us busy. Many thanks to Jo her efforts to find plants.

The first planting date will be a Million Metres planting on 16th May. Conservation Volunteers NZ is running these for us, so to participate you need to book through their website by Tuesday
For details see
For bookings or email Natalie Jones
They will provide transport, leaving from CBD at 8.30 am - Z energy on Vivian Street.

Jo and I are going out on the afternoon of the 15th to deliver and lay out the plants for that planting. If you can’t make it on the 16th and can help on the 15th, let me know.

In the meantime: - the paint stripping up at the lighthouse has been proceeding well - we are doing some follow-up work on our katipo population - We’ll be meeting very soon to agree on how to do some rare plant propagation to boost populations of species that are down to one or a few plants

Paula Warren


Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Jo, the new ranger, and I had a meeting and sorted out the work plan for this winter. Our first formal working bee this year will be this Sunday, 14 April. We’ll meet the ranger at the carpark at 10am. I’ll probably stay overnight to get some more jobs done, and head back Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, so if you want to join me, let me know. The formal working bee will finish about 1pm, or whenever people want to head home. The two other dates we have set are May 19 and June 23.

If you know you can come on Sunday, please email Jo to let her know that (jo [period] greenman [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz), giving her your contact details so she can let you know if arrangements change due to weather. If you need a ride out, let her know. She’ll be picking me up from Woburn Station so will hopefully have room for a couple of others. If you are driving out and can offer a ride to someone, please also let her know that.

We’ll be doing a range of small jobs, which will involve visiting lots of bits of the park, including the lighthouse. So will be a fun exploration of the park, and most of the jobs don’t need a lot of effort. The more people we have, the more of the tasks we can tick off our list.

My key job on Sunday will be to spray paint the spots we want to have sprayed ready for our plantings. We got more money than we had asked for in the crowdfunding campaign through Million Metres Stream, so we will be able to plant as many trees as we can get from the nurseries. That work will be focused on riverside areas south of the pumphouse. Conservation Volunteers are being employed to lead the work, and will be managing some trainee volunteers to do the spot spraying over the next few weeks.

We have also decided to do some trials this year, to see if we can reduce the cost and effort of preparing planting sites (and stop using herbicides). So we’ll be setting up some trial areas on Sunday. One experiment will be to use wool mulch mats to hopefully shade out the grass, so in May/June we can just move the mats to one side, dig the hole, and then put the mats back as mulch. The other option is to just adze off the grass to create a bare area, and we’ll be comparing the time it takes to do that in various conditions with the time taken to do spot spraying.

When we do the planting we’ll also set up some trials to see if we can get better growth rates and survival by using mulch, crystal rain, fertiliser, etc.

Yesterday Jo and I met with Conservation Volunteers and Colin (our wonderful treasurer) to finalise the arrangements for this year’s plantings. We then had a meeting with our biodiversity officer, Rob, to discuss some of the other work we have planned. We have started doing some invertebrate survey work, and will be searching for katipo spiders in the near future (with an expert), and starting to do some habitat improvement work. We have also budgeted to do some rare plant work over the next few years.

And that’s just the biodiversity work. This will also be a busy year for volunteers at the lighthouse, including painting and landscaping work. So if you have a group of friends, a club, or work colleagues, suggest to them that they plan a volunteer outing. My own work team did a day at Baring Head where we did some plant care work and then held a team meeting at the lighthouse to discuss our work programme for the year. It was a great combination of work and play.

Hope to see you on Sunday

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head.

Dear members and volunteers

We’ve been busy over the last few weeks sorting out some applications for funding, and the work programme for the year. I will be going out on Monday with the ranger, and we will discuss the work further and then finalise a process and timetable for working bees and events. I’ll send out information on that once we have it sorted.

We’ve got a big planting programme planned with the Million Metres funding, a lot of work to do on the lighthouse complex, and I’m keen to keep up momentum with the beach weed removal work. In addition, I found this summer nerve-wracking, given the dryness and long grass, so I’d like to get some additional planting done to create some green fire breaks along the river valley and around the carparks. We also have the new carpark to beautify and some small weed incursions along the river to root out.

In the meantime, this email is to notify you that in the near future there will be a temporary closure of the lighthouse complex while lead paint is removed from the buildings. We had hoped to get this work done last year, but for various reasons it has been delayed. But it is now all go.

Lead paint removal will be between April 23 & May 21, precise dates depending on the weather. That means we’ll need to avoid doing overnight working bees while that is going on, and the site will be closed to the public.

Painting will then happen, hopefully 21-24 May, and the site will be partly closed to the public.

There will be signs up at the carpark, Burdens Gate, and other spots.

So make the most of early April to get out and enjoy the lighthouse area. I’m hoping to be out for an overnight stay with a katipo spider expert in a week or so, as we don’t know if they are still present or where.


Paula Warren Chair FOBH

Dear members and volunteers

I’ve just come back after doing a talk to the Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club, who are keen to do some volunteering at Baring Head. One of our goals for this year is to attract more groups like WTMC, and give them the chance to contribute in ways that match their interests. Having overnight accommodation available will make that a lot easier. While I was doing that, Colin was talking to a group in the Hutt. If you belong to a group that would like a presentation on our work, just let me know.

As I said to WTMC, not only do our wonderful volunteers do almost all the work for projects like horned poppy eradication, but the hours contributed are important when we are trying to persuade other bodies to help fund work in the Park. We are currently preparing a bid for more biodiversity work, focused on invertebrates, the river and the coast. I have promised in the draft application that we will do 1400 hours of volunteer work this year. We managed 1150 last year, so I’m sure we can achieve that.

Four Wheel Drive Event The event last weekend went really well. The weather was kind, we had more vehicles than expected, and plenty of people booked in for the three trips. Each group was driven up to near the lighthouse, walked into the complex, had a talk from myself and the head of GW Parks, and then had a chance to look inside one of the houses, tour the NIWA research station, and explore the area. We had lots of good feedback from visitors.

New ranger Jo Greenman has now started. She joined me at the lighthouse after the event. I helped her put the plywood back on the buildings, and then we spent the late afternoon looking at the Fitzroy Bay area, removing poppies and rubbish, and talking about the work we do. She had two young volunteers with her, and they helped fill several bags with rubbish. We stayed overnight, with the volunteers enjoying sleeping under the stars, and left at dawn so Jo could help with another GW event.

We started discussing how to share out the work, so we get more done overall. For example it doesn’t make sense for her to drive all the way out to the lighthouse to clean the toilets, when I’m out there frequently. We’ll meet again fairly soon to discuss the work plan for the year, including setting dates for volunteer events.

Nikau grant We have received the following message from the Nikau Foundation: I am delighted to advise you that the Friends of Baring Head Charitable Trust funding application to Nikau Foundation has been successful. A grant of $1,100 has been made available through the Henderson Trust and is to be used to purchase tools for the Friends of Baring Head Volunteer programme.

I attended a grants evening of the Foundation, with inspirational talks from some of the groups that have received funding. The Foundation takes funds from individuals, bequests, etc, and invests it. Only the income is spent, meaning that the donation keeps acting in perpetuity.

We have been borrowing tools from another Trust, or using GW tools for working bees, and desperately need a set of our own at the lighthouse. I’m particularly looking forward to having a wheelbarrow for work at the lighthouse.

Paula Warren, Chair, Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Ranger We almost have a new ranger. We had an email from Jimmy Young this week, which reads:

I would like to introduce Jo Greenman as the newly appointed East Harbour Regional Park Ranger.

Many of you may have already meet Jo as part of her current and previous roles. Jo has been in our GW Parks Landscape Maintenance team for just over 2 years, coming to GWRC from DOC. She spent 7 years as the DOC ranger on Matiu Somes Island, and has a great deal of experience in managing parks, visitors and volunteers. She was also a consistent point of contact for Taranaki Whanui during their years-long Treaty settlement process, which eventually resulted in Matiu Somes becoming co-managed by DOC and the PNBST.

Jo is really excited about her new role, and the challenges and opportunities that East Harbour Regional Park presents. Jo officially starts from 26th February 2019.

We are looking forward to having Jo officially in the role. I’m confident the relationship will be positive and productive, just as it was with Mark. Jo is not completely new to Baring Head, having helped out with some recent events. In fact I realised when she came on the evening walk at the beginning of February that I had literally tripped over her on a planting day – she was crouched down trying to stop the wind blowing pots away, and I was blown sideways by the wind and my trajectory was interrupted by there being a ranger in the way. That was a very windy planting day.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Ricky, the Wainuiomata ranger, who has been ensuring our toilets continue to be cleaned and other important work done.

Plant care work and fire risk It’s dry out there. Conservation Volunteers were out today to do plant care work, and the area has dried out a lot since our last outing a few weeks ago. The fire risk is rising rapidly, and we are being very careful in our management work. If you are out there or talking to people who visit, please encourage them to be particularly vigilant. Even little things like leaving a glass bottle lying on the ground or driving over grass can cause a fire in these sorts of conditions, and obviously things like cigarettes are a serious hazard. I’m just back from a work trip to Nelson, and the smell of smoke and the view of the fire area was a good reminder of how careful we need to be.

But some of our plantings will be feeling much happier this evening. We took two trailer loads of oxygen weed out from under the bridge and mulched a lot of plants. We couldn’t do them all, so we’ve deliberately paired plants – one with mulch, one without – so we can see what difference this treatment makes to growth rates. If we see a big difference in survival and growth, we’ll focus more on mulching for future plantings, rather than just releasing. We also watered a lot of plants, and those north of the bridge as well.

It was a lovely day, with little wind, and playing in the river mitigated the effect of the hot sun. The volunteers were very impressed with our beach, where they went for lunch.

Ricky came out to provide the trailer service and help in the morning. He is hoping we’ll get rain this weekend.

The small mammal monitoring crew were out there today, as was a lizard researcher, and our biodiversity officer. So a buzzing place.

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New workbench

Work bench Many thanks to Mike Brown who offered to pick up the work bench. In the end he cleverly managed to arrange for the man who was storing it to drop it off to GW. It arrived safely – see photo. So that’s another step towards our visitor centre.

Working bees I’ll be out this weekend with an entomology team. I’ve got a few jobs that need to be done, so if anyone is available to help with some work on either Saturday late afternoon or Sunday morning, let me know.

Paula Warren Chair, Friends of Baring Head

Work bench delivery Many thanks to Mike who offered to pick up the work bench. In the end he managed to get the person who is storing it to agree to drop it off in the Hutt. Great work Mike.

Sundowner hike Yesterday was our first official summer event. The weather was perfect – no wind at all, clear sky, calm sea. But the recent southerly had provided a good mix of seaweed and critters on the beach for the beachcombing part of the event.

The walk focused on geomorphology – how landforms are created and change. We have developed a small booklet that provides an explanation of the process for Baring Head. If you would like a copy, just email me with an address and I’ll post one out.

The walk was booked out (35 people), but not everyone showed up, so we had a smaller group than expected. Jimmy Young was the GW lead, replacing Mark, Mel managed the logistics, and Jo from the GW maintenance team had volunteered to help out. All I had to do was talk about the river and rocks and critters, which is the fun bit. Collectively the GW team did a great job managing the event, including providing prizes for the best finds on the beach – a lovely bryozoan on a sea tulip stem won. We got very good feedback from the participants, and they all got back to their cars safely.

I then headed up to the lighthouse for the night, with a regular volunteer who was staying just long enough to do some night photography. A perfect night for it, with no cloud or moon to obscure the stars. It was eerily quiet, with no wind in the trees.

The 4WD event is booked out, but they do seem to be accepting people to go on a waiting list. And Tim and I have agreed to run a river-focused event in late March. Date still to be chosen.

Weed control work I’m meeting the GW Biodiversity officer tomorrow so we can mesh our work programmes and agree on what we will seek funding for. A key area we want to coordinate is our weed control work. GW is funding weed spraying of difficult woody weeds, including gorse along the river, boxthorn and lupins. We have been focusing on horned poppies and some other weeds on the coast.

I found a few more flowering poppy plants over the weekend, but I’m now pretty sure there will be no significant seed production this year. And large areas have no poppies at all. So I’m now starting to look at some of the other weeds as this year’s focus for working bees, particularly lupin. It would, after all, be a pity not to have an excuse for a day at the beach.

Attached are before and after photos of my lupin clearing near the climbing rocks this morning. The grasses are a sand tussock (Poa billardierei) that is now rare in Wellington, but thriving on our coast. It only took about half an hour of quite easy work to take out 203 lupins and 3 poppies, meaning that all that population is now weed-free. It’s a good illustration of the huge difference a small amount of volunteer effort can make.

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Baring Head poa billardieriei before weeding
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Baring Head poa billardieriei after weeding

Trustee meeting We had our first trustee meeting of the year at the end of January. The main focus was to decide our main fundraising goals, and our summer event work. Jimmy reported that he had completed the interviews for a new ranger, and would be able to make an announcement soon. Given the number of little jobs we gave him, I’m sure he is looking forward to having a ranger again as much as we are.

One immediate action from that is to find a solution to the goat problem. There were 8 at the climbing rocks this morning, targeting taupata. See the photo of two who had decided to attack a lovely plant growing on top of a large rock stack. They ignored my suggestion that they eat lupins instead.

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Goats in action at Baring Head

Invertebrates Tim did his trapline today, and I met up with him on the south coast and we walked around the coast and up the river. A lot of invertebrates out making the most of the calm weather. A spectacular copper-orange longhorn beetle landed on me and stayed long enough to be admired (but not long enough to be photographed). Some shiny olive-brown bugs decided that my glasses were a lovely place to sit, and stayed with me from the pumphouse to the car despite my attempts to evict them. The cicadas were out in force, some probably a different species to the common Wellington one, judging by their song. There were copper butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies, all sorts of blowflies, bumblebees and honey bees, caddis flies and snails in the river, and (it being a still day) sandflies.

Many of the plants at Baring Head are important invertebrate habitat. For example, the caterpillars of copper butterflies only feed on Muehlenbeckia, and those of admiral butterflies need nettles. We have plenty of both of those, but some of our other specialist foods (speargrass for the speargrass weevil, pimelea for some moths) are in short supply. We’ll be developing an invertebrate habitat management plan over the next year or so. The first step, which I am partway through, is to map our existing vegetation.

Paula - Chair

Dear members and volunteers

Workbench needing a ride from Levin As part of the development of a visitor centre in the generator house, we want to recreate some of the work spaces that were there when the lighthouse was manned, including the workshop and the generator house.

We are still looking for the right sort of generator, but we have found the right workbench. The only snag is that it is in Levin and needs to be brought down to Upper Hutt. It's dimensions are 140cm by 60cm by 92cm. If you know anyone who would be going through Levin in the near future, or you want an excuse for an outing, please let me know as soon as possible.

Weekend at Baring Head We had the Hutt library event on Saturday. It was windy, and the library hadn’t insisted on people booking, and we ended up with lots of librarians and no readers. But we had a fun time on the beach anyway, and it did give us a good chance to talk about how to run events with small kids, and for them to see the locations and facilities. I’ll work with them to advertise another event, this time getting GW to take bookings for it.

We had prepared a treasure hunt list for the walk from the carpark to the beach, and another for on the beach. So we can use that for other purposes.

Colin and I weeded the beach from the boats to the northern boundary on Friday afternoon. Hot, still, calm sea (for that coast) and a very low tide. A great chance to see what is growing on the rocks, and some great stuff washed up.

On Saturday morning I did some weeding near the climbing rocks, and clearly the tide had also been very high. The climbing rocks themselves must have been completely surrounded by water in the middle of the night. And the southerly swells have closed the rivermouth, so the lagoon is beginning to fill up again.

Next events

Thursday is releasing of old plantings, all day. We’ll also be out on 13 February to continue that work.

Saturday is the GW evening walk event, which Jimmy will be leading instead of Mark.

Paula Chair Friends of Baring Head 021 101 4824

Dear members and volunteers

Just a quick update.

Recent visit I recently spent a couple of days at the volunteer base with a regular volunteer. A primary goal was to see if you can make interesting baskets from seaweed, and the southerly supplied ample material to work with. We tried various methods, and narrowed down what works. Attached is Ellen trying out plaiting basketry, which works ok until you try to put the sides on, at which point the material gets a mind of its own. I now have a lot of experimental pieces drying on my porch. I’ve also turned some marram into a basket, so perhaps in future we’ll have a basketry event just using materials from the area.

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Baring Head seaweed basket-making

But in between the fun activities we also worked our way along much of Fitzroy Bay removing poppies. We found quite a few scattered along the coast, and of course the area over the boundary to the north, which has had only a couple of treatments so far, had more than our backs and arms could handle. We also tackled a lot of the thistles around the lighthouse complex (Mark will get the mower operator to deal with the dense patch near the garage) and mulched some more of the new plantings around the toilet.

It was the first time I’ve been at the base in a strong south-easterly. The toilet became difficult to use, as the wind did interesting things with the door if you tried to open it. I will look at whether we can get a handle on the inside to make it safer. Coming back along the path at one stage the wind was so strong that I was pinned to the bank for a minute or so until there was a slight lull and I could make progress towards the gate. It then pushed me right off the path, into a patch of wire that then tipped me off my feet. But at least it wasn’t trying to push me over the edge of the escarpment. Not surprisingly we had no members of the public call in. The rain will have pleased the plants and refilled the water tanks, but didn’t last very long, so we mostly had sunshine and great views of a wild ocean.

Mark called in, on his second to last day in the ranger role, to clean the toilets, remove some rubbish and dead animals, and pass some jobs on to me. We now have a gap between regular rangers for probably a few weeks to a month.

Hutt Library Event and working bee The Hutt library event is this Saturday afternoon. Colin and I will go out on Friday late afternoon to do some preparatory work and poppy hunting, and I’ll stay over and do some work on Saturday morning. So if you are wanting to do a working bee, or try an overnight stay, you are welcome to join me.

Conservation Volunteers plant releasing I’ll be going out with their team on 31 January to hand release some of our previous plantings. I’m sure they would be happy to have more volunteers. Leaving Wellington city about 8.30 am and out there most of the day.

Trustees meeting Our first meeting of the year will also be on 31 January. A key focus for the discussions will be our fundraising strategy for 2019. We have some exciting (and expensive) work to be done at the lighthouse complex, and also need to start the next phase of our biodiversity work.

Paula Warren Chair Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Happy New Year!.

I started the New Year in a fitting way, with two days at the lighthouse with Helen Beaglehole, who is a past trustee and wrote the definitive book on NZ lighthouses. Large numbers of her family and friends came and went over the two days, alongside a lot of other visitors, so the lighthouse complex was a busy place.

I am hoping that this was just the first of many great outings I’ll have in 2019. I’ve attached a photo of the patch of rare sand tussocks near the climbing rocks, taken just after dawn from the top of the rock scree where I was removing horned poppies. The coast was magic at that time of the day, before the heat and sandflies arrived (sandflies aren’t normally a problem out there, but there wasn’t enough wind on the south coast to keep them at bay).

Recent work

Mark cancelled the trap workshop for our December working bee, so he, Kair and I did various jobs. Kair and I rescued 4 seedlings from under the 3 adult titoki above the road. Apart from one plant that was far enough from the adult trees to hopefully survive, that seemed to be their entire reproduction effort this year. None of the seedlings under the trees survive, so we figured we should try shifting them and see if that gives us any new plants. We have put them down between the road and the wetland, where they will have access to groundwater all year and will be easily looked after. I checked and watered them on New Year’s day, and they had survived and one even had new leaves. While we were doing that Mark mulched some more plantings by the river, and then we went to the coast and did some horned poppies in Fitzroy Bay, and ate strawberries and chocolates in the shade of the vehicle.

We also had our final trustee meeting in December, and gave Mark and Jimmy small gifts as thanks for their support over the year. We were able to reflect on a very productive year, and good progress with the work. We have raised and spent $375,000 since the area became a park, thanks to Colin’s marvellous fundraising skills. And our Million Metres Stream bid was fully funded at the last minute, so we will be able to do all the planned planting next year.

The new bridge is now operating, and the old bridge gone. It just needs a sheep gate and an entrance for cyclists so they don’t need to climb the stile, plus some landscaping that we will do next winter.

A further round of lizard monitoring was completed in December. No results in yet.

I walked the entire coast over the last two days, and cleared about 50 flowering horned poppies, and probably about 1000 plants. And there is a patch of seedlings that I didn’t have time to start work on. But while that’s a lot of plants, we used to be able to get that many in an area of a few square metres, and in some areas I searched and found not a single plant. So I’m very happy with progress. We need one more walk through in late January to ensure there are no flowering plants, and a working bee to tackle the last remaining dense patch of seedlings.

I also removed about 500 lupins. They are starting to recover from last year’s die-off, but there are areas that they haven’t invaded, and there are still a lot that are easily pulled.

I had my workmates out for a combined working day and team building event in December. We found and mulched the Muelenbeckia astonii plants that we had put in along the river between the carpark and pumphouse. The grass growth has been amazing, and despite them being mulched on a previous event, a lot of the time was spent searching. They now have wool mats, so will be much easier to find next time hopefully.

Summer events

We have three public events organised:

We are hosting a Hutt Library event on 26 January.…/spyd…/MSGTRN/OPAC/WHATSON

Explore Baring Head

Baring Head Saturday 26 January, 1pm-4pm

Join the Friends of Baring Head and Hutt City Libraries for an afternoon of marine fun!

There will be storytelling, crafts, and beach-combing. Great for all ages. Families welcome.

Meet at the Baring Head carpark. Please bring water and snacks.

The precise format hasn’t yet been worked out, and will partly depend on the weather, but offers of help on the day would be gratefully received.

Then there are the two official GW summer events: an evening walk on 2 February and a 4WD trip to the lighthouse on 2 March. The latter one usually books out early, so if you or a family member want to take advantage of that, book now. Again, it would be great to have helpers for these events.

We can do additional events, and GW will add them to the on-line calendar. I’m hoping to do one more event in each of February and March.

Mark is trying to get everything organised for handing over to a new ranger, so we haven’t set a date for a January working bee. But I’m happy to organise a work day – day or overnight – if you have a small group of family or friends wanting an excuse to go out. And that way you can pick the date and decide what jobs you enjoy doing.

Volunteer base and visitor information

We’ve been gradually converting the garage into a volunteer base. I’ve been buying op shop furniture, and Mark delivered the last items on New Year’s day, and Helen and I cleaned and re-organised. So we now have a base that is comfortable for up to 7 people. It certainly makes a huge difference to be able to do summer work at dawn and dusk, and then lounge in the shade with a book (we have a small library with an eclectic range of titles) through the heat of the day.

After further discussions it was agreed that in the short term we would put some information on coreflute posters to go outside the buildings, rather than rely on volunteers opening the visitor centre. That’s a job I need to get done over the next week. But we will also have additional information in book form, and when we have volunteers out there we will open the generator house, and put out more seating under the trees, to encourage people to spend more time there and learn more about the area, and hopefully become supporters.

I don’t have many people on my roster for using the volunteer base for the next few months, so if you are interested get in touch.

Dune plants

I’ve also attached a picture of spinifex female flower heads, and one of a single marram plant that has been hiding out on the sand scree below the lighthouse. The spinifex is now in full flower, and starting to look magnificent.

BH-spinifex-seedheads.jpg: 1032x774, 571k (2019 Feb 04 00:00)
Baring Head spinifex seedheads

We have four dune “grasses” – spinifex, marram, sand tussock, and pingao.

Spinifex is the native dune-stabilising grass. Unusually they have separate male and female plants. At this time of the year the genders are easily distinguished – the females have the tumbleweed seed head, and the males a flower head that looks more like an oversize branched barley head.

BHmarram.jpg: 1032x774, 641k (2019 Feb 04 00:00)
Baring Head marram

Marram is the introduced dune grass. It was brought in to control dune movement, and has spread and become a pest plant. It is a problem not just because it displaces the native plants, but because it creates a different dune profile to the natives, altering the way the coast works. We have now removed most of the marram patches, but there is one remaining area at the bottom of the pylon track that will be sprayed this year. And one plant on the sand scree that I will gradually remove by hand.

It is a more spikey plant, and the easiest way to tell the difference between marram and spinifex is that marram will poke holes in your legs as you walk past, while spinifex is soft to the touch. Spinifex spreads by producing long, thick runners that go across the top of the sand. Marram’s runners are thin and underneath the sand, sprouting up new tussocks at each node.

The third dune stabiliser is pingao. This is a sedge, with bright orange-yellow leaves. It’s scientific name is Ficinia spiralis, and the spiralis part of the name refers to the seedhead, which forms a spiral up the stem. Pingao has gradually disappeared from most NZ dunes, and is now classed as “at risk-declinging”, probably because of marram. We had almost no plants at Baring Head, but those we have planted on the south coast are now well established and flowering. So hopefully they will now naturally spread.

The other beach grass is our sand tussock – Poa billardierei. The common Wellington coastal tussock grass is Poa cita. This forms small tussock clumps, and is generally a pale bluish-green. At Baring Head this is largely restricted to the escarpment and pasture areas. On the beach it is the rarer coastal tussock that is dominant. It is classed as “at risk- declining”, but on our beach is definitely expanding. It’s a distinctively golden shade. You can find stands of it near the Raoulia exclosure in Fitzroy Bay, and by the climbing rocks. Those populations appear to be expanding, and more and more individuals are turning up scattered along the dune edge on the south coast.

Focus for 2019

There are a number of major things that we hope to achieve this year:

Creating a Visitor Centre. We have designs and funding for stage one, and implementation is about to start.

Landscaping work at the lighthouse and in the carparks. We have plans for the lighthouse landscaping, and have done a first planting. I hope we can make significant progress on this, by doing site preparation in summer and planting in winter.

Painting the buildings. The first job is removal of lead paint, and Mark has a contractor ready to start that work, and has sorted out the technical issues. Dulux have agreed to provide volunteers to paint the outside of the main buildings and provide the paint, and our volunteers will do the smaller buildings and interior work.

Sorting out a business model for the accommodation, and agree on when and how to start using them. We have a lot more (expensive) work to do before they will be fully operating as paid accommodation – fire suppression system, sewage system, water supply, interior decorating, electricity, etc. Hopefully we’ll get at least some of that also done this year.

The Park Network plan is being reviewed by GW, and we will be working closely with them to ensure that the provisions for Baring Head are consistent with the operating model that we have evolved, including allowing non-volunteers to stay overnight.

Planting the river. Million Metres Stream funding will support 5000 plants going into the ground, using Conservation Volunteers to do prep and follow-up work that the ranger has previously had to do. I’m hoping that we can make some progress with the area near the bridge that we have started planting.

Keeping up the progress with horned poppies and doing some significant lupin control work. GW’s contractors will also hopefully complete the woody weed spraying along the river edges and coast, and we will remove a few small infestations that I have found and mapped along the river valley.

Propagating some rare plants for introduction in 2020.

I hope you can all find time during the year to get out and join us in what will be an exciting year’s work in a great place.

Paula Warren


Friends of Baring Head

Paula Warren

Tue, 18 Dec, 19:47 (2 days ago)

I was out at Baring Head today with my work team. We did some mulching of plants, and then held a team discussion on our work for next year up at the lighthouse (and delivered two more mattresses and some other things for the volunteer base). Very windy and hot, and two of our members suffered bad hayfever from the grass, but otherwise a lovely combination of work and voluntary work. We did struggle to find the small Muehlenbeckia in all the grass, but they now have wet wool mats, a fertiliser tablet, and enough woody material to stop the mats blowing away. So hopefully they’ll grow enough to be easy to find next time.

We drove across the new bridge. The contractors were just finishing the shaping of the new carpark, and by the time we came back down the hill it was all done and the machinery gone. There’s a bit more work to do on gates, but otherwise it is all complete, and the old bridge has already gone. We have started discussions on landscaping of the carpark area and I’ll start some site preparation work this summer.

Mark is leaving us

Although not going far. He has accepted a senior biosecurity (plant pest) role in GWRC. We are both pleased that his skills have been recognised, and that he has been able to get a more senior role in an area that he is passionate about. But we are also very sorry to lose him. He’s helped transform the park in the period that he has been East Harbour Ranger, and ensured a cooperative and productive relationship between GW Parks and the Friends. Mark will move roles on 22 January. GW will be advertising for a new ranger.

Congratulations Mark, but we will miss you.

Ranger workload

We have been concerned for some time that the job has become too large for a ranger who also has the rest of East Harbour to manage. What started off as a small addition to an already full time job managing the northern forest and Lakes block, has become 60-70% of the ranger’s work. Every new project adds to what we can jointly deliver, but also to the workload for the ranger who needs to keep it all coordinated, manage all the contracts, and cope with the extra paperwork.

So when I was advised of Mark’s resignation, I wrote to the Chair and CEO of GWRC urging them to provide additional resources to Parks to allow them to maintain the momentum (a point we had also made in our long term plan submission). Our estimate is that East Harbour needs about 1.5 FTE now, and will need 2 in the near future as other new initiatives come on stream.

Chris Laidlaw has replied saying that they cannot put additional resources into Parks, but that there will be an effort to divert some additional resources to Baring Head, and we all need to work together to find ways to keep the work going with limited resources. While disappointed, we do appreciate that it is difficult to find new resources. The response does, however, strengthen our view that long term planning needs to provide for a progressive increase in Parks budgets. We also agree that smart work is important. We will continue to work with Jimmy Young (the principal ranger) and the new ranger to identify ways in which we can reduce the workload of the ranger, and make best use of our volunteer resources.

Chris’s letter also expressed their strong appreciation for the work the Friends have done. Which has only been possible because of the contribution made by all our members and volunteers. So give yourselves a pat on the back.

Summer volunteer work

A few volunteers have already agreed to spend a couple of days out at the volunteer base keeping an eye on the place and doing some jobs. More offers would be very welcome.

On our last outing we found a few flowering poppies in the Raoulia exclosure in Fitzroy Bay. So doing a check along the coast to stop seed production will be a priority. And walking the beach is always a pleasant duty.

Another priority will be plant care work. NIWA are predicting a dry summer, so any assistance we can give to the new plants will help them survive and grow.

Summer events

2 February is an evening walk to the coast.

2 March is the annual 4WD trip to the lighthouse. It usually books out early, so if you know someone who would like to do the trip, encourage them to book now.

We also hope to add in a couple of other events, which will also be advertised on the GW events page.

Thankyou all again for the wonderful support you have given us over the year, and I hope to see you out there sometime soon.

Paula Warren


Friends of Baring Head

Dear members and volunteers

Next event – this Sunday

We will meet at 10 am at the Bridge carpark. Mark has asked that we help him improve the track markers. So we’ll have a great day wandering along the tracks putting plastic tags on posts, fixing any loose posts, and moving one post. If the weather holds, it will be a great chance to explore the ridges, with great views across to Wellington. Bring the sunscreen. If the weather changes it could be exciting. If you can come please let Mark know –

Bridge replacement

This is going well. I understand that the crane operator was very surprised by the wind, which was worse than anything he’d met anywhere else. That we have bad wind won’t surprise anyone who has attempted to unload their car in a strong northerly. Once the bridge is in place there will be a new carpark, and we can plant some shelter along the edges. We can’t do that at the moment because sheep are mustered through, but the new carpark won’t have that problem.

The locks on the gate have been replaced by new electronic locks. They work like a hotel door card, so Mark will be able to issue “keys” to a contractor or horse rider, and it will only be able to be used on the days the contractor is working. It will also mean Mark will always know who has been through the gate. I’m out there tomorrow, so will be issued a new key and get to try it out.


The asbestos work is all complete. Next big job will be painting, which will happen in February with Dulux volunteers doing the two houses and generator house. We will be doing the smaller buildings. We’ll also be continuing with landscaping work over the summer.

Isabel Gabites is doing final plans for an exciting new visitor centre in the Generator House. That won’t be in place this summer, but we are looking at how to provide more information to visitors in the meantime.

Weed control

I met with the biodiversity officer recently, and he reported that he had his teams out doing some more woody weed control. Gorse and lupins particularly. Conservation Volunteers will be out there tomorrow doing some more horned poppy work, and I’ve been mapping weeds along the river that we can gradually pick off over the summer. In the meantime, feel free to pull out anything with a big purple flower – we don’t think purple ragwort is about to take over, but the less seed produced the better.

Fish refuges

We have some exciting native fish in our river (and native mussels), and Mark, Rob and I have been discussing creating some refuges to allow them to hide from trout. In a healthy river there would be logs and tree roots along the river edge for them to use. A fish expert now working for Waikato Regional Council has designed some artificial refuges, and one approach that we could use involves placing pipes into the banks of the river, with branches added into the pipes so trout won’t enter. The bridge work has affected one section of river bank, so we will look at whether we can put some refuges in there as part of the rehabilitation work at the end of the bridge building project.

Plant care and more planting

NIWA is predicting a drought in the east this summer, so we want our plants to be ready to cope if that affects Baring Head. Our last event had a great turn-out, and we mulched a lot of the plants near the bridge with wool mats, branches brought down from the lighthouse, and water celery from the oxbow (an aquatic weed). I’ve given Mark seven more boxes of mats, and we have more tree debris to be moved out of the lighthouse complex, so we should be able to get the rest of the plants there mulched by Christmas.

On a recent visit I rescued 12 buckets of tauhinu from the road ditches, and they successfully made the transition to the nursery. Tomorrow we have Conservation Volunteers out there, and we will be putting in 40 akeake, and I will also try directly transferring a few tauhinu to sites near the wetland and see if they survive the shift. If that works, we can do a few more each time we are out there, and gradually create a few islands of native vegetation in the grass.

Traps lines

GW pest control and Mark have just finished renewing our trap system – checking and repairing traps, and putting carpet under them to keep the grass down. Tim Trengrove is now managing our trapping programme. A key focus this summer will be to improve our hedgehog control rate and ensure our dotterel chicks survive to fledge.


I would like to have a roster of volunteers staying up at the lighthouse over the summer. A few easy jobs in return for a free holiday in a great location. The base is now fairly comfortable, with mattresses, sheets and blankets, crockery and cutlery, and basic cooking equipment. No shower is the only disadvantage. If you are interested in staying there at any time, contact me.

In late summer we will have two official GW summer events – a 4WD trip and an evening walk. I’m also looking at the potential to do some other events during the summer, and working with Hutt Library on a library event for kids.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Five days of activity for conservation week

We had a highly productive long weekend, starting with the Million Metres planting on the Thursday before.

Lots of volunteers from three businesses – Green Cabs, Ricoh and the EPA. They got all the plants in, despite gale force winds. The first time I’ve been blown over during an event. And even said they’d like to come back. But they did have the sense to go and have lunch somewhere sheltered. Mark and I had lunch at the lighthouse, and then took another trailer load of shelter belt branches down to the river to use as mulch.

Friday, Colin painted the pumphouse windowsills, which we hadn’t done at the last working bee because we didn’t have the right paint. The wind had settled down and it was gloriously summery, so perfect painting weather.

Friday and Saturday, I planted the last 30 Muehlenbeckia astonii plants in several locations along the river valley. We only have two old plants left from the original population, so it’s great that we now have quite a few young ones in a number of locations. I also started removing the wires from the old plantings in the oxbows. Those have generally grown well.

And then did a survey of the weeds along the lighthouse side of the river, and looked for a small daisy (Leptinella squallida) that lives on open mud on the edge of the river. I’ve been worried that with the sheep out most of its habitat would have disappeared. I found two healthy populations and a few individuals, but probably only 2 square metres in total on that side of the river. I’ll discuss with GW what we do about it.

And Sunday we had our regular working bee, clearing poppies from the Maori land block in Fitzroy Bay. Another glorious day, and my first sunburn for the year. So remember the sunscreen if you are going out there.

Progress with the houses

Mark is expecting the work to finish by the end of next week – two houses and two outbuildings with new roofs, and all the asbestos cladding off. The new roofs look lovely.

Painting will now be done in February rather than October as originally planned. Which gives us a bit more time to get the lead paint off.

The bridge replacement has started

The selected contractor was keen to get started, and is expecting to have a new bridge and carpark in place by Christmas. The old bridge will remain in place until the new one is ready for use. There’ll be a bigger carpark, and hopefully cyclists will no longer have to lift their bikes over a gate. And I’m hoping that we will finally get some plantings into the carpark, including to provide shelter from the wind.

Car racing event

Our next event was going to be on 14 October, but there is a car racing event on the road that day, with the road closed to traffic, and the carpark full of their vehicles. Not something the Trust is particularly happy about. Last year they blocked access to the carpark, and we had to argue with them to be let through to get up to the lighthouse. This year they have promised not to do that, and to leave some of the carpark for our visitors. They also offered to distribute information to visitors on how they can get to the coast, given that a lot of people drive down there specifically to go to the beach.

Next event 21 October

So our event will be on 21 October. Not sure what we’ll be doing, but if I haven’t already done it, we need to mulch the new Muehlenbeckia plants so they have a happy summer and we can find them again.

AGM tomorrow

Hutt City Council building, 5.15 pm. The main business will be a powerpoint (with lots of photos) reviewing what we have done, and what we want to do next. I have to admit that writing it made me realise just how much progress we have made, largely thanks to all our volunteers and funders.

Paula Warren// Chair// Friends of Baring Head//

Our AGM will be on Thursday 27 September, in the Turakirae Room, Ground Floor, Hutt City Council building. 5.15 pm.

The agenda will be:
Minutes of last AGM
Financial report
Chair’s report
Confirmation of new trustee
Other business

We won’t have a formal speaker this year, but will be reviewing some of the exciting things we have achieved and what we have planned, hopefully (Hutt City AV willing) with images, including of the interpretation and landscape plans.
Instead of using our AGM as our key event for members, we will be organising an event at the lighthouse complex once we have the houses re-roofed. So watch this space.
We are also hoping to arrange a series of speakers on lighthouse conservation in NZ and internationally, as a public talk in Wellington.

Conservation Week event
Our next event is 16 September, and we are promoting it as one of the official Conservation Week events for Wellington. Exactly what we will be doing is yet to be decided, and will partly depend on numbers and weather, but there will be either a beach or a lighthouse visit in there, so it will definitely be fun. Or perhaps both and even more fun. As usual, meet at the bridge carpark at 10am, wearing good footwear and carrying a coat (fairly soon I’ll need to remind people about sunscreen as well). Let Mark know if you are coming (, so he can send you any updates and ensure there are enough chocolates.
I plan to be out there over the weekend, so if you have been looking for an excuse for an overnight stay, send me an email.

Our wonderful volunteer team finished the regular planting, and we have one more Million Metres Stream planting on 13 September. At that point we will have put in 2600 plants. Great work all round.
We’ve also started renewing the shelter belt around the lighthouse. Our last event put in some plants around the toilet, and mulched them so they look like a nice garden and will hopefully grow well. Rob (our biodiversity officer), Mark and I will shortly be finalising the landscaping plan, and deciding exactly where large trees will be put. The draft plan has a number of new pine trees in the main gaps, and then natives for the rest of the plantings. Mark and I will then gradually fill in the gaps with any plants we can source that are suitable, and remove the weed trees.

Lighthouse work
We are on track to have the lighthouse houses re-roofed, repaired and painted by late October.

Million metres stream fundraising
We have an ambitious goal for next year of over $46,000 and 5000 trees. That will cover the cost of propagation of plants, and also getting Conservation Volunteers to manage the planting work for us and the initial maintenance, as we don’t have the capacity to oversee that much planting. We only did 1500 this year (plus 1000 as part of our regular planting programme).
So far we are going well with the fundraising, with over $7000 already donated – check out the page for the list of donors and feel free to add to the list.

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head


Earlier Posts

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This will be at the beginning of Conservation Week, 16 September. We’ll decide what jobs most need to be done (and what the weather is suitable for) closer to the date, but will meet at 10am at the bridge carpark, and probably spend some time at the lighthouse and some time on the beach.

And don’t forget that volunteers are welcome to use the volunteer base at any time in return for doing some small jobs. Just email me to arrange that.


We’ve completed our normal planting programme, with about 1000 plants in the ground. Many thanks to the volunteers who helped with that, especially those who turned out for both days. Some slight hare and rabbit damage, but mostly the plants are looking good.

As an experiment, and because I felt guilty about putting cabbage trees at the top of the hill in a dry spot, some have been mulched with wool mats and cut lupin. It will be interesting to see if we can detect any difference in growth and maintenance needs. The lupins don’t give a lot of bulk, but they do break the wind and hold down the mats.

On the way down to the site last Friday, Colin and I looked at some of our past plantings. We have a scattering of ngaio along the river edge that were put in before the sheep were removed, and a number survived rabbits, sheep and floods. One now has a thick trunk and is taller than me. It’s a great reminder that it doesn’t necessarily take decades to transform an area.

The plantings we did last year opposite Khyber Pass have had varying levels of success. Overall, it’s the ngaio and club rush which survived and grew best. More loss of plants than I would have liked, but we have a healthy collection of plants that are going well.

We have also done one of the Million Metres Stream plantings, and the second will be in September.

On Sunday we started planting at the lighthouse, around the toilet. We put in about 50 Coprosma propinqua (the common twiggy shrub on the escarpment), and mulched around them.

Million metres stream project

Our target for next year is much higher than for this year, but we have been notified of a major donation ($15,000) which will make a big difference to our ability to meet the target. We need more funds for next year as we want to plant a lot more trees, and we will need to use Conservation Volunteers to ensure they all get in the ground.

Lighthouse complex work

The concrete repair expert has been in, and filled in the big cracks in the garage floor, fixed the concrete rot in the generator house walls, and re-floored the small room that had disintegrating concrete. On the negative side, I spent a lot of the weekend cleaning concrete dust off everything.

The house re-roofing work is imminent, with the scaffolding probably going up next week. That work should be complete by early October at the latest.

Dulux have signed off the agreement that will have them providing the paint and volunteers to paint the outside of the main buildings, around 24 October. GW are arranging to have the lead paint removed before then. The insides will be gradually painted by volunteers, and we will also need to do the small sheds. Those will be good summer jobs.

Once all that is done, we will be able to safely use the houses for events. Already having the garage and generator house as accommodation and shelter is making a difference for our volunteer work, and the houses will make it possible to have full day events and school events and not worry too much about the weather, and to do events like art courses that need space for inside work.

Landscaping around the lighthouse

We now have a draft landscaping plan. Overall I was happy with the proposals, and we will meet with GW to get it finalised. The shelter belt has got a bit thin over the years, and by the time the weed trees are removed it will be even thinner. So filling in the gaps is an important job we need to get done. If we can get the right plants, I’d like to get the basic plantings (e.g. new pine trees) done this winter. I also want to do some grass removal, fertilising and mulching of existing plants so they grow better and the area looks better.

Dynamic river

At the weekend I had a good look at the river, and was interested to see that we have some new islands that I’m sure were not there last year (they were just sand banks below normal water levels). It will be interesting to see how long they last. If I can get some toetoe plants, it would be interesting to put them in and see if they stabilise the islands and help them build. That would mean the river would have a bigger range of habitats. The big island by Khyber Pass has narrowed the river, producing a deep, fast channel on one side, and a shallow backwater on the other.

The retirement from grazing of the river edges has been great for the river, with bank slumping much less frequent. But the thick grass and sedges has largely pushed out our river edge turf species, like Leptinella. I will be doing a survey of all the river edge in the near future, mapping weed patches (particularly tradescantia), and seeing if I can find some surviving healthy populations of the turf species. Transplanting some to the areas that are still open near the river mouth might allow us to keep a significant population of those plants.

Paula Warren

Chair, Friends of Baring Head

Planting days The Garage Project did our first Million Metres Stream planting on 20 July – 750 plants into the area between the road and the river near the coastal carpark. They had donated the money for the plants as well.

We had planted that area 2 years ago, and many of those plants were looking very healthy. The ngaio in particular had grown well. And there was good natural regeneration of sedges and toetoe, particularly where the gorse was sprayed.

The volunteers seemed to enjoy the day, and clearly for many it was their first time out there and doing that sort of work.

Last Sunday we did our first normal planting, on the opposite side of the river. A very good turnout of people, and the Wainuiomata News reporter was there to record the event. That got 500 plants into the ground on a perfect day. We have a second planting day on 19 August which will finish the job. We will also put some plants into the shelter belt at the lighthouse at some point.

The second Million Metres planting will be done by another corporate group on 13 September.

Million metres 2019 We are aiming for 5000 plants in 2019. The page has just gone live, so encourage anyone you know to donate.

Inanga spawning site Sunday’s planting was next to the inanga (whitebait) spawning site. It’s in very good condition on that side of the river, mostly because has been fenced off from stock for a while. We have fenced the spawning site on the other side with a temporary fence, and have now decided to not remove it this winter, and instead see if it survives the floods. If it does, and we can keep it fenced off, we can think about doing some planting in there as well.

Poppies and lupins As you know we have been removing horned poppies from the beach, hoping to eradicate them. When we did our first south coast outing they were dense, and we could remove 1000 from a tiny area. The job looked impossible. On Saturday I searched a lot of the south coast beach and found only 6 plants. All were re-sprouts from bits of root that hadn’t quite been removed. I found no seedlings, and no adult plants that had been completely missed. That’s amazing progress. So we can now reduce our poppy work to a couple of outings a year that will be mostly (literally) a walk in the park with almost no grubbing. Well done all those who have contributed to that achievement.

Last year Mark and I were debating what to do about the lupins, and then the native kowhai moth solved our immediate problem by defoliating them all. Some have recovered, but most haven’t. On Saturday I found a fair number of seedlings, so we will start a programme to cut down any adults that look inclined to flower, and see if we can gradually make them a minor problem. That will be harder than with poppies as they have a long-lived seedbank. But that just means it will take a bit longer. We started the job on Sunday by cutting some near the planting site and using them as mulch for some lucky cabbage trees.


It’s all go up there. We have committed $120,000 for reroofing the two houses, and that will happen in August/October. GW will then arrange for the lead paint to be stripped from all the buildings, and then we anticipate that a Dulux volunteer project will paint the exterior walls of the main buildings in late October. After that we will be able to start using the houses for events, although it will take a bit longer to make them fit for accommodation.

The generator house is to become a visitor centre, and Isabel Gabites has provided an interpretation plan for that. If you don’t know of her work, she is the designer who did the interpretation material for the Owhiro Bay visitor building. We have committed $30,000 for interpretation materials for the generator house, which should be done by late summer.

In early August a concrete expert will repair the concrete in the generator house and garage.

Paula Warren Chair


Mark has done the spot spraying for our planting day on 29 July. We have lots of plants to get in, so will need a good turnout.

The Million Metres Stream project completed its fundraising objective, and the corporate sponsors will be doing the planting this year. The first working bee will be 20 July, and then another later in the season.

We have also agreed on the species to add into the shelterbelt around the lighthouse complex, and I will hopefully get that done in late July.

Pest animals

We now have a lot of ongoing pest control work, and have just had the latest monitoring report.

We have DOC200 kill-traps at 100 m spacing on lines across the site that are run by our volunteers. They target mustelids and other pests. More intensive predator control is undertaken behind the banded dotterel habitat on the coastal platform with a line of DOC200 kill-traps and Timms traps spaced 50 m apart. Traps are serviced fortnightly. These and some Timms traps were put in in 2013.

As part of the TbFree work, starting in 2016, possums are controlled across the site using Timms traps where stock grazing occurs and Pelifeed bait stations elsewhere. Although I can report that at Easter there was a very healthy possum in a macrocarpa tree by the lighthouse that had a taste for Easter buns. So at that stage we still had possums. Traps and bait stations are spaced at approximately 150 m intervals. Pellet baits containing brodifacoum are used in the bait stations.

Mice and cats are controlled in five core areas of lizard habitat on the Wainuiomata River escarpment. Mice are controlled using block baits containing brodifacoum in wooden tunnel bait stations spaced at 25 m intervals. Each core area has two Timms traps for controlling cats. This is a new programme.

We also have some pest control happening on the adjacent lands.

The latest small mammal monitoring (for rats, mice and hedgehogs only) has just been done by GW with help of volunteers. That system uses inked cards in tunnels on 8 lines – 2 on the beaches, 2 on the escarpment, and 2 on the lighthouse terraces.

No rats were tracked in this monitor, and we don’t often get rats in the tunnels. Although there are definitely rats at the lighthouse. We hav now put an A24 self-resetting trap in each of the buildings we are using, and when I cleaned them a couple of weeks ago I didn’t find any fresh rat sign. So our blanket-chewing friends may be no more.

The mice tracking rate continued to increase from 28 percent over winter last year (2017), to 44 percent in February, to 59 percent in the May monitor. The report we had didn’t speculate on possible causes, but it is likely that the retiring of land from grazing has resulted in better mouse habitat – grass seed and shelter in rank grass. But the numbers could just reflect natural variation in populations, and the numbers aren’t higher than in some past years.

Hedgehogs tracked on 12 tunnels across six of the eight lines. Hedgehogs are likely to be a significant problem for our invertebrates, for ground nesting birds (including dotterels), and for lizards. We catch a lot, but the numbers aren’t dropping noticeably, so there are now discussions on possible alternative approaches for these.


And speaking of invertebrates, an entomologist spent last weekend with his family and an exchange student in the volunteer base. No serious entomology done, as this was an initial scouting trip. But Eric reported that the big beetles on the beach that we often find under driftwood when doing horned poppies are darkling beetles.

They eat dead wood and other plant material, so under driftwood is a great place for them. It’s likely that there are also other large beetles, such as carabid beetles, but not spotted yet.

The key to invertebrate conservation is to maintain habitats, and we will be working to develop a habitat management plan. Some species need a general type of habitat – dead logs for example.

Others need something very specific. The caterpillars of the copper butterflies that are common at Baring Head feed only on Muehlenbeckia species, and we have lots of that. Red and yellow admiral butterfly caterpillars live on nettles, which we also have in increasing amounts. There will be special moths in our mat daisy cushion fields, and on pimelea plants on the climbing rocks. We may even have weevils in our spear grass plants, although no-one’s found any yet and they seem to have largely disappeared from Wellington.

And then there are the slightly fussy ones. We are now confident that our lupin die-back event was due to a native moth whose caterpillars feed on kowhai. The kowhai in the block were also defoliated, but have recovered. I’m pleased to say that much of the lupin hasn’t.

Some species will also be vulnerable to predators. Mouse predation seems to be the reason spear grass weevils are disappearing. So we will need to look at that in future.

Lighthouse complex

Planning is now underway for the next block of work, and it looks as if we’ll have the basic work done on both the houses by the end of October.

Paula Warren



Mark and I have now set the dates for the working bees for the rest of the year. We’ve also tentatively assigned bits of work, but we do also have a list of other tasks, so we’ll adjust what we do according to the weather, priority, etc closer to the time. For example we will probably have to fit in a lighthouse building painting day at some point. But the fence installation and planting won’t be shifting.


29th July – planting

19th August - planting and/or beach clean up

16th September – Dotterel Fencing /poppies and car park cleaning

14th October - Fitzroy Bay Poppies/Takarangi Block poppies

11th November - Poppies Takarangi block

9th Dec - Poppies/Lupin south Coast

January - install temporary inanga fencing and greater outdoor events.

Cape pondweed

Our last working bee started the cape pondweed control work. This weed is infesting the oxbow pools, and the long term aim is to eradicate it.

The original plan was to spray it, and GW applied for some consents. But for various reasons the years passed and we got no closer to having the necessary consents that would allow control at the right time of the year. And then it was decided that we would still have to do manual control after spraying, so we decided to just go straight to manual control.

Which isn’t simple. The plant has tubers, and we discovered at our working bee that they are quite deep in the silt, and that if you try pulling the top, it just breaks off. The plant is only visible when the ponds are full. And the ponds are only full in winter, when it is cold.

But we borrowed some waders from DOC, and were lucky to have a (relatively) warm and windless day, and the valiant volunteers took the plunge. We walked the length of the northern oxbow twice, taking off the flower and seedheads. That wasn’t too difficult, and no-one filled their waders with water, and no-one stood on a large eel. So as with horned poppies, we will hopefully be able to stop seed production without too much effort.

Then Mark put stakes into an area that has a lot of poppies, and when the water level drops in summer, we’ll go in and see what is the best way to remove tubers from that area, and then next winter have a look and decide whether we have made a difference to the density.

Mark and I both think that the amount of weed has already reduced since the area was retired from grazing, because in shallower areas the native aquatic plants (Isolepis prolifera) is shading the pondweed out. But of course the tubers will still be there, although they may eventually rot out if they can’t renew themselves.


We are confident that the roof replacement for the two houses will be completed by the end of October.

We are also hopeful that lead paint will be off all the buildings by then, and the main buildings painted, leaving just the outbuildings for us to do with volunteer labour. But we are still negotiating the arrangements for that.

The interpretation plan for the visitor centre/generator house is being written, and we’ll send it out to you for comment when it comes in as a draft.


The event on 29 July will be planting the area at the bottom of the river on the lighthouse side. GW are doing the spot spraying now. We have 1400 plants to get in and the holes won’t be pre-dug, so we’ll need a good turnout for that.

On 20 July the Garage Project will be planting a section of riverbank, as part of the million metres stream project.

Mark and I are finalising the plans for planting into the shelterbelt around the lighthouse, and I’ll get that done one weekend as an overnight exercise. If you need an excuse to do an overnight event and want to join me, let me know.

Paula Warren [[<<]Chair
Friends of Baring Head

Dear volunteers and members

Long term plan submission

I’ve just come back from giving our Long Term Plan submission to GWRC. Our main points were that: Parks needs to get more money so they can keep up with the work we are generating for them. Mark is getting quite stretched between his core work, supporting the initiatives we have made possible, and doing work in the other two parts of his park. GW needs to put aside funds for river catchment work that isn’t just for flood control, including for a whole catchment approach to the Wainuiomata River.

Councillors expressed their thanks for the great work we are achieving, and seemed receptive to our points.

I had a discussion with Wayne O’Donnell (a senior officer) afterwards about the Wainuiomata River issue, and we will have further discussions on how to make some progress with a whole catchment approach to the river.

Next event

Coincidentally, I had a text from Mark just as I went into the hearing saying he hasn’t had time to do the spot spraying for planting. We’ve agreed that for the site we will be planting this year, that is important.

So the next event on 3 June will be taking Cape pondweed out of the oxbows and mulching the plantings we did late last year. Mark and I checked those recently, and while some have done well, they are all being overwhelmed by grass.

Cape pondweed is a new project, and we are still working out how best to do it. We’ll put one or two people into the water (hopefully in waders). We will first try using a fork to remove entire plants with their tubers. But if that proves tricky (which is my suspicion) we’ll go back to the original plan, which has us just taking off flower heads and then marking off an area to be dug when the water level drops in early summer. As with horned poppy, the aim is to stop new seed production while gradually reducing the existing population.

We have wool mulch mats and tree debris ready for mulching the plants, and we’ll use the cape pondweed tops or other water weeds as well. So we’ll need a good turnout of people to create an efficient process – find the plant, pull the grass back from it, mats wetted and put down, weed on top, then some logs.

Meet 3 June at 10am at the bridge carpark.

If the weather is unpleasant, we’ll go up to the lighthouse and tidy that area instead, and put in some shelterbelt plants. That will mean we can shelter in the buildings if it starts to get too cold or wet.

Lighthouse work

On Sunday a great team of volunteers helped Mark get the water tanks in, and then filled the trailer with more cut trees to go down to the bridge for mulching. Nice sunny day but windy. Thanks to everyone who helped out. Mark was very pleased with our work, and I’m very pleased that we will now have a supply of water for washing and similar activities. We’ll still need to bring drinking water up in bottles. I’ve put a couple of bottles by the generator house for visitors to refill their bottles.

The Thursday before that we hosted DOC and Dulux. Dulux are looking at what projects they might support in the Wellington region as part of their partnership with DOC, and we were keen to introduce them to the region’s most exciting project. They were shown through all the buildings, and given morning tea in bright sunshine with no wind. Their response so far has been positive, and GW is drawing up a plan that would have the roofs on the houses replaced and buildings ready for painting by late October by Dulux volunteers. Here’s hoping that Dulux do take the project on and it all happens. We can then do work on all the buildings and grounds.

On Thursday we also finally

Million Metres Stream project

We have already reached the funding target, and the plants are ready at the nursery, and some corporate volunteers setting dates for planting. So we’ll be able to make huge progress with our river edge restoration progress.

Hopefully see you on 3 June

Paula Warren Chair

Pumphouse work

We had a great working bee on Sunday at the pumphouse. Five volunteers turned out, which was the perfect number for the work that needed to be done – one person for each wall and one cleaning inside. It got its annual washdown and clean out, Mark replaced some rotted barge boards, I replaced the visitor book, we painted the new boards and touched up the paint on the walls, cleared the vegetation and rock from around it, and Mark weedeated the track up. It is now looking lovely again, other than needing new windowsill paint (we didn’t have that colour with us).

We had lovely weather. That did mean the chocolates tended to melt, but the walk to the pumphouse along the river edge was lovely in the sun, and the paint dried quickly. Great to see some of our plantings growing well.

The pumphouse event and the inanga fence work (see below) the day before were a good illustration of the difference volunteers can make in terms of how much the ranger can achieve in the time he has available for Baring Head. At the pumphouse Mark could concentrate on the carpentry work and do the weed eating, while we did the time consuming jobs like cleaning and moving gravel that don’t need expertise or safety training. With the inanga fence, having two people meant holding the mesh tight while putting in staples was much easier, even if my father would have been appalled at how rusty my fence stapling skills have become.

Million metres stream crowdfunding

Check out our page: and encourage your friends to contribute. We aim to plant all the river banks over the next few years.

Inanga fencing

The inanga spawning site is near the coastal carpark.

Inanga are one of the whitebait species. The adults stay in the lower part of streams and rivers, and swim in mid-water in schools. Other whitebait species generally go further inland and spend their time hiding near the bottom and sides of the river. Inanga are the small fish you will see in the river if you look down from the banks. They are the biggest part of the North Island whitebait catch.

They spawn at high spring tides, putting their eggs into vegetation on the banks of the river. The eggs stay there until the following spring tide, then hatch and the babies swim out to sea. About 6 months later they return as whitebait. For the eggs to survive, they need to be at the base of rank grass, cyperus or other dense vegetation. Otherwise they dry out or are predated.

So we need to stop sheep and other things from damaging the vegetation before spawning time. But fencing off the part of a river that floods isn’t easy. The lighthouse side of the river is fenced off and has good vegetation now. But in flood, it is the carpark side that gets most of the trees and other debris that washes down, so we can’t have a permanent fence on that side. We have instead put in permanent posts, and will erect a temporary mesh fence each year, at about the same time as we take down the dotterel fence. We didn’t quite get everything ready in time for the start of spawning season this year, but next year will have it done on time.

I went out Saturday morning to help Mark put the fence up. That involved getting warratahs and wire mesh down to the site, putting in the warratahs between the posts that are already there, and then stapling and wiring the mesh on. That took two of us two hours.

Generator house

The plywood finally came off the windows on Saturday. Then a volunteer and I spent Saturday night at the volunteer base, and we washed all the windows and some more of the inside. We went through about 80 litres of water, turning it all black – I suspect 50 year old generator exhaust muck. But the good news is that the bits that had been washed earlier have stayed pretty clean. The light coming in and the cleaning has transformed it into a quite pleasant place. If we have a volunteer up there, we can now have it open and used by visitors. I’ve bought some outdoor chairs that will go in there, so visitors can rest and eat their lunch out of the rain. And we’ll put in some interpretation material that we have prepared for other purposes as an interim until we complete the interpretation designs for the visitor centre.

Activities using the volunteer base

The Saturday night overnight volunteer, Owen, was up there to scout out night photography opportunities. Check out his photo of the night sky on our facebook page.

At Easter it was an entomologist looking at the potential for insect surveys and conservation work. He also did a night walk on the beach to see what turned up in the light of his head lamp. I’ve since had a discussion with another entomologist, and we will set up a weekend to look at what vegetation management we should be focusing on to provide habitat for rare insects that are likely to be out there.

So the volunteer base and generator house are definitely making activities that would have been difficult much easier. And it is certainly encouraging me to spend more time out there doing little jobs.

At the moment the volunteer base is still mostly empty, but I am sure we’ll eventually get to where you will have to book early to get a weekend outing. When Mark has time and a trailer we’ll get more mattresses and equipment up there, and it will then be fully set up and comfortable for 3-4 people, and usable for 6 (although admittedly chilly). So if you need a school holiday outing with your kids (or need to escape the neighbours kids), get in touch.

Sunday 20 May. We’ll be starting the planting season, or if it is too dry still, doing some mulching of last year’s plantings.

Paula Warren

Chair, Friends of Baring Head, 021 101 4824

We need more volunteers for next Sunday ''' This email is mostly a reminder of our event on 18 March. We need to get the dotterel fence down, and so far Mark only has one helper (I am sneaking off on holiday to Gisborne). So if anyone can make it, please let him know –

10am at the coastal carpark. With a bigger turnout it should only take a couple of hours.

Beachcombing event

We had a great day yesterday for the official beachcombing event, although due to a muck up with the bookings fewer people than wanted to come. Bring sunshine, no wind, and quite warm (especially by the time we got up the hill). Nothing strange turned up, but Mark found some sea slug eggs which were something we don’t get a lot of there.

Cape pondweed

This is a water weed infesting the oxbow wetlands. The plan had been to spray it, but further investigation suggested that spraying would have to be followed up by mechanical removal, so we might as well skip the poisons and go straight to digging.

Mark and I took the chance yesterday to have a close look at the oxbows and discuss how to do this and what else we should be doing at the same time, and a wetland construction expert has volunteered to come and provide his advice on that. Surveys done by GW showed a lot of fish in the oxbows, and I’m keen to make them even better for fish that need to escape the trout in the river.

I’m clear that we aren’t digging them out in waist deep water in winter. I like my volunteer events to involve things like wandering the beach on a sunny day, not suffering. So I’ll do some flower/seed removal in winter, and we’ll mark the bits to be dug out with warratahs, and then we’ll come back when the wetland has dried out and the weather is warm, and do the digging. The tops will have died off by then, but the tubers are distinctive and fairly large, so that won’t be a problem. And then we will put in a few bits of the native wetland plants that are dominating the wetlands, and it should recover nicely.

So this will be a useful project after the poppy flower head removal season, when the evenings are long, and an overnight stay at the lighthouse beckons.


Chair, Friends of Baring Head

Dear volunteers

Here is the programme for the next four months. As well as these events, we will hopefully be having some ad hoc overnight events to make more progress at the lighthouse. If you would like to go out at a time that suits you, just let me know. And don’t forget the beachcombing event on 10 March – book through the GW website. If you can’t make that, I’m doing two talks at Hutt libraries during the week before then (Seaweek) on how to identify things you find on the beach.

All the working bees will start at 10am.

18th March Dotterel Fencing and Inanga Fencing

The dotterels should have finished nesting, so we’ll be getting in the dotterel fence. Tasks suitable for anyone, ranging from winding up the string to carrying the poles back up the beach. I won’t be able to attend, so we need a good turn out of people to make it a quick job.

We have also decided to try fencing to keep sheep away from the inanga (whitebait) spawning site during the season. That will require putting in two posts and some netting or wire.

Inanga spawn when there is spring tide in February to April (in our case only when the rivermouth is open). They swim up into the vegetation that is inundated at the high tide, and lay their eggs at the base of the plants. The eggs stay there for a month, and then h---- atch at the next high tide. They need thick vegetation (rushes particularly) to keep them moist and safe while they are out of the water. And they obviously don’t like sheep walking on them either.

Meet at the coastal carpark at 10am. Bring the usual stuff for working on the beach. If it is a particularly strong northerly, I recommend trousers and long sleeves as protection against windblown gravel.

As usual, please let Mark know – – know if you are able to come.

15th April – Pumphouse work

We’ll do the annual wash down of the pumphouse, any repairs that are necessary, and maybe some other jobs.

'20th May – planting if wet enough

We have a lot of plants to get in this year, and will start as soon as the ground is consistently wet enough. If it isn’t, we’ll plan something else for May.

'3rd June – planting




Dear volunteers

Next event – this weekend
Our next event is this weekend, overnighting again. So you can do Saturday evening, Sunday morning, or stay over.

Mark can only do Sunday, so I will be meeting people at the carpark on Saturday at 4pm, and he’ll be meeting people at the gate on Sunday at 9am. If you are coming, please let us both know by email, and give us a way to contact you on the day just in case. My cellphone is 021 101 4824. And if you book to come and in the end can’t, please text or email me as soon as you know so we aren’t waiting for you at the gate. We don’t have cellphone coverage down there, but do at the lighthouse. If for some reason you are significantly delayed, I can walk back down to let you through the gate.

If you are overnighting, you’ll be able to take your car up to near the lighthouse, where it will be safe overnight. There will still be about a 10 minute walk, so bear that in mind when packing. The road is steep and mostly gravel, but safe for a normal car.

We’ll get up there and settle in, and then do some more cleaning of the generator house. We made good progress last time – removed all the rubbish, swept all the rooms, and scrubbed one room and the corridor. We left it open for the night, and the smell was much improved in the morning.

But we have two rooms that have old lino sitting on the floor. We avoided pulling it up as we had nowhere to put the remains safely. This time we will remove it and put it into large bags for Mark to take away. And then we’ll wash those two rooms down, doing as much as we can until we run out of the water we have in bottles for that purpose. And leave it to air overnight again. With that done, we’ll hopefully be at the stage where we can start using it as a day shelter. We are currently discussing the logistics of that – things like who opens it, security, etc.

For the overnight stay, we have the garage to sleep in if the weather is unkind. We got that all cleaned at the last event. We have enough bedding, towels, pillows and mattresses for 3 people and at a pinch 4. If we have more people, some will need to bring mattress and bedding. We have a table, two chairs, crockery, cutlery, one pot, one frying pan, and various other bits and pieces. There is drinking water in bottles. So depending on numbers, all you will need is food, a change of clothes, toothbrush, torch, etc. We don’t have a cooking stove, but Ellen is coming and is intending to bring hers. I’ll bring the fruit salad as usual. We have a polystyrene box and I’ll bring some slicker pads, so breakfast food will stay safely cool overnight.

Sunday we will do some more work on the beach, start clearing some of the old bits of trees around the houses, and put chips onto the path to the toilet. We have a school group coming in to mulch the new plantings by the bridge sometime soon, so I’ll be putting together bags of sheep manure and small bits of wood to go with the water weed they’ll be dredging out of the river and using.

We’ll be out by midday, but you can leave at any time on Sunday.

If you want to come but need transport, let us know.

The Bridge.
You may have seen the report in the newspaper about the bridge replacement dispute between GWRC and the private landowner.

The Friends have signed the consent forms for the new bridge, as affected parties. We are satisfied that the old bridge is dodgy and needs to be replaced. Every flood we expect it to have been damaged or swept away. The new bridge will take heavy vehicles (the current one has a very low weight limit, which makes it much harder to get things up to the lighthouse complex), and be far less vulnerable in floods. The current plans have the new bridge built first, slightly downstream, and then the old one demolished, ensuring there is no period without a bridge. The new bridge will have a single span, so it won’t be touching the riverbed, and won’t have piers that can collect flood debris. As part of the work there will be an extended carpark. And hopefully some shelter for those days with strong northerlies.

In terms of cycling access, we are arguing for a new swingbridge to provide walking and cycling access across the river near the coast. That would allow visitors to walk to the climbing rocks or up to the lighthouse from the coastal carpark, without needing to do a potentially risky river crossing. And allow the cycle trail to avoid the road section. But of course getting a new bridge depends on us finding the money. And at the moment our fundraising focus is the lighthouse houses.

Paula - 021 101 4824
pwarren [snail] doc [period] govt [period] nz
Email Mark mark [period] mcalpine [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz

Dear volunteers

Event this Sunday - Our last event made great progress on getting rid of poppies, and we have Fitzroy Bay pretty clean. This Sunday we will work on the southern coast. The poppies have been much denser there, and there will be a lot more seedlings, but our focus will be on anything big enough to flower this summer. So we’ll aim to cover all that bit of coast picking off the big plants. So there’ll be lots of exploring and less grubbing with luck.

We’ll meet at the coastal carpark at 10am. Plan A is to walk from there along the coast to the area under the lighthouse. Mark is checking the river, and if the mouth is still open and unsafe to cross we'll move to plan B, which we'll make up on the day. Bring sunscreen, hat, water, lunch. A coat just in case. We'll have hot drinks and snacks, gloves and tools. Email Mark mark [period] mcalpine [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz if you are coming so we have enough equipment and food.

We have a corporate group coming in early December, and hopefully they will get the last of the weed work done.

Lighthouse work - If you are checking the Facebook posts, you’ll know that the first work on the houses is now underway. We are doing the garage and the old generator house, and putting in a temporary toilet (the loo with the view). The workers are currently removing the asbestos roofing, and will then re-roof, and do the carpentry work. We’ll then have a volunteer outing to do some of the jobs that don’t need expertise, probably in December. With luck, we’ll make it our first overnight event, staying in the generator house. That will allow us to do star gazing as well as working and exploring the area.

Summer walk programme - We have finalised our two official summer events. One will be beachcombing, and the other will be an evening walk to Fitzroy Bay looking at geomorphology. The dates may be different to those I put in the last email. They will be advertised by GW, and people will need to book through the GW website.

December event - As I said in the last email, this has been shifted to 17 December. Probably doing lighthouse area work, depending on whether the contractors have finished and the area is safe. Otherwise perhaps tackling another weed issue, or mulching plants ready for summer. Almost certainly featuring strawberries and Christmas cake.

Paula Warren

Chair, Friends of Baring Head

Dear volunteers

Beach work - Summer is almost upon us, judging by the sunburn on my neck after Sunday’s event. Despite the hail as I was leaving home, we had sunshine, little wind, and a perfect day at the beach. We have now finished all the poppy clearing in Fitzroy Bay between the boundary and the private land. Not huge numbers, and mostly small plants. We’ll do one walk through of that area in January to check we haven’t missed anything that might produce seed. We also cleared a few bags of rubbish.

Our next job is to clear poppies around the climbing rocks and the southern coast. If we can get enough people to the next event on 12 November we should be able to polish it all off in one go, by focusing just on plants that could flower this year and ignoring small seedlings. Unless the river mouth is closed, I’ll ask Mark to ferry one team to the edge of the private land in Fitzroy Bay and one to the lighthouse (where it’s easy enough to walk down to the beach), and we can then meet up for lunch at the climbing rocks.

Lighthouse complex - The reason I’m keen to get the poppies done quickly is that work on the lighthouse complex is starting next week. After 7 years we have finally got all the ducks in a row and enough money for the first bit of work. So I would like our December event to be able to be used to do work up there if required. Note: the December event has been shifted to 17 December.

What we will be getting with our first bit of money is a temporary toilet, the garage restored, and basic work done on the building that contained the generator. With the garage restored we’ll have a base for our volunteer work – even the potential to camp overnight once the toilet is there. The generator building will become a day shelter for visitors, with interpretation. Stage two will be to restore the two houses, to create visitor accommodation.

We’ve had Victoria University landscape architecture students providing suggestions for how to do the landscaping around the buildings. What we need are areas for day visitors, a discovery walk for kids, a lookout, and “private” areas around the houses. We got some great ideas, and will be choosing the best of those to create a single plan for the area. With a plan in place we can continue the work we started on a previous working bee of clearing the paths and unwanted vegetation, while we fundraise for things like the lookout construction. We can also reduce the cost of the overall project by doing some of the building work that doesn’t require professional contractors – painting walls for example.

Summer walks programme - We are still finalizing our events for the Greater Wellington summer programme, but tentatively:
Sunday 21st January - Baring Head Evening Exploration, 5.30pm-8.30pm. We’ll walk from the carpark to Fitzroy Bay, looking at the landforms, and the work that we are doing.
Sunday 11 March - Seaweek beach explore, 10am-1pm. This will be beachcombing, with someone available to help identify what we find.
We got a good turnout for similar events in previous years.

Summer working bees - We’ll sort out some dates for the first few months of 2018 and let you know. Summer working bees are great – sunshine, fruit salad, melted icecream and pavlova instead of chocolates, and fun jobs, usually on the beach. And if you’ve got a group who want to go out and combine some work with play (work Christmas party?), let us know and we can arrange something for you.

Specialist volunteers needed - We have a few jobs that need people with training – we are keen to get some fit people who can do some easy weed work on the steep escarpment and scree slopes (an ideal way to get ready for that summer tramp), trained abseiller to clear weeds off the cliffs, tradies for building jobs at the lighthouse, and landscaping professionals. If you know people with those skills who need an excuse to get out to a great place, encourage them to get in touch.

Money needed - And of course we always need money. We will need about $1,000,000 to complete the lighthouse project. Lots of noughts in there, but we have divided it up into projects ranging from cheap to not cheap. So if you know a business or group that might like to help out, let us know. We have prepared a presentation explaining the lighthouse projects, and can talk to any group or business that might be able to contribute.

Paula Warren - Chair

Hi all

Sunday at Baring Head

We had a great day, and the bad wind held off until we were heading home.

We were a very small group. The adults were myself, Mark and Veronika - a new volunteer who found us on Meet Up. And I had two young boys who were keen to come out, and whose parents couldn’t come.

We first planted the area by the river, just north upstream from the bridge. Some school groups had already done some planting there, and we added another 160 or so cabbage trees, ribbonwood and shrubs. Mark has a few broom still to go in, but that’s basically all the plants we have been able to find for this year.

I listened to the wind in the night, and Mark and I agreed today that we will purchase a few warratahs and some windbreak fabric and give all our plantings in future a temporary windbreak to protect them while they get over the shock of being taken out of their pots. Baring Head has a very different climate to the Hutt Valley.

We will also put a bit of windbreak along the fence at the carpark so you have somewhere to shelter while organizing for an outing.

Having done that and found a pair of boys who had decided planting was getting boring and moved on to the creation of a nuclear bunker under the karaka, we headed for the beach. After a pleasant lunch in the shelter we tackled the poppies, rubbish, beachcombing and (in the case of small boys) boulder climbing. In terms of beachcombing, Veronika and I were particularly taken by a Plagianthus divaricatus (the twiggy coastal plant that dominates the swale wetland at Fitzroy Bay) climbing up one of the big rock outcrops. It was hugging the rock, and had formed itself into a wave shape reflecting the way the wind hits the outcrop. The top parts were in slight shelter and were lush and covered in tiny flowers.

Looking at the first bit of beach while eating lunch we thought there were a lot of poppies by the boundary fence. But it turned out they were mostly thistles, and poppies are now quite rare. And no new seedlings except by the boundary. Areas that used to be dense infestations were down to 2-3 plants. But in the meantime the thistles and purple ragwort are moving in. We will have to think about what to do with those.

We managed about a third of Fitzroy Bay, and will hopefully get the rest done at our next event. And a few bags of rubbish out as well.

Next event

15 October. We’ll meet at the bridge carpark and head for the coast. Unless there is a strong northerly we will finish Fitzroy Bay. So come prepared for a day at the beach. Feel free to bring small children and make a family day of it. Even if they are too small for grubbing out plants, the more eyes there are the more rubbish and poppies will be spotted. And it’s a great place for kids to explore.

AGM Wednesday. Don’t forget to let me know if you can come and want to stay on for dinner.

Lighthouse project The first work should start next month. At the AGM we will be testing out a presentation showing what is planned.

We attended a presentation of ideas from VUW students for the landscaping around the lighthouse area. Some great plans, incorporating lookouts, discovery gardens, shelterbelts, and areas for visitors to relax. We’ll pick the best ideas and combine them into a plan to be implemented alongside the building restoration work.


Paula Warren

Chair FOBH

Hi all

As you’ll see below, we are looking forward to an exciting few months – finally starting the lighthouse complex restoration; achieving some more big gains on the coast, and getting a lot more plants in the ground. But we need your help to achieve that. So please come along to some events, and encourage your friends or clubs to join the effort. We can organize suitable events for groups on a day that suits them.

Events programme

We’ve finalized the dates for the regular events for the rest of this year. See below. The details are all subject to change, and I’ll send updates closer to the dates, and put final information on the facebook page in the week leading up to the event. We will also have some school events organized with the Whitebait Connection, focused on riverbank restoration.

If each of you can commit to just one event, we’ll get a lot of work done.


We had a great turn-out for our big planting event, and had all 900 plants in the ground by early afternoon. Perfect weather, although a bit crispy first thing. We held back the manuka/kanuka, as the advice at that stage was not to plant any myrtacean species. There has now been a biosecurity decision that plantings can occur in Wellington, so those will go out at our next event, together with about 100 cabbage trees kindly provided by the Newlands community nursery.

We also have 50 Muehlenbeckia astonii. At Khyber Pass we have two plants left from the original population. We’ve added a few more seedlings grown from the seed on those plants (they aren’t producing any seedlings on site, possibly because of mouse predation of seed). The recovery group for this species has now asked that we plant a bigger range of North Island genetic stock, so we will be doing that over the next few years. The aim is to create another 10 or so populations across the block just in case something happens to the Khyber Pass plants.


We now have all the money and plans for the first block of work, and hope that the contractors will be starting this winter. The first volunteer work on the houses will be painting outside walls – probably in November/December. By then we should have a temporary toilet at the lighthouse, which will also be a great relief to walkers. We are obviously very excited to have got to this stage in what will be a complex and expensive project, and special thanks to the Stout Trust for their major donation towards the work.

Beach work

Our aim this year is to have not a single poppy producing seed. We got very close last year, but there were some older plants hiding under lupins that might have managed to produce a few seeds. But this year the lupins had a big die-back event, so we can now see all those poppies, and we intend to have them all out before the lupins recover.

Our second aim for this year is to get the corner by the climbing rocks totally clean. We’ve made good progress, and with the lupins not feeling well we should be able to finish the job. The areas we have cleared are not showing any sign of becoming rapidly re-infected (I found about 3 tiny seedlings in the whole area on my last search), and the natives are rapidly expanding, so producing a weed free corner is looking quite achievable.

And Mark is due to spray the marram on the south coast this year, so we’ll only have spinifex, plus our newly planted and rapidly growing pingao, along the coastal edge.

We’ll also be putting a few more fenced exclosures along the coast to keep sheep out. We hope that will allow some of the existing native shrubs to recover and expand, and it will give us places to plant some of the missing species.


As many of you will know from experience, the rivermouth is a problem. It’s hard to tell whether it is open or closed until you get there, and can be unsafe to cross (or if safe, very cold and wet). We are beginning to discuss with GWRC doing fundraising for a swing bridge to go across somewhere just upstream from the coastal carpark. That would make beach volunteer work much easier, and provide a short, sheltered route to the lighthouse. Watch this space.

Thanks again for your support

Paula Warren
Friends of Baring Head

Calendar of Events for Baring Head

Date: 16th July 2017
Time: 10am -2pm

Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park

Event: Planting 200-300 plants along the river edge. Bring your lunch, jacket and wrap up warm as very little sun in the valley at this time of year.
Date: 9th August 2017
Time: 9am -3pm

Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park

Event: Tararua Tramping Club members undertaking beach clean-up and horned poppies removal on the south coast.
Date: 13th August 2017
Time: 10am -2pm

Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park

Event: Finish planting if needed plants along the river edge. Otherwise undertake work around the lighthouse complex. Bring your lunch, jacket and wrap up warm as very little sun in the valley at this time of year.
Date: 24th September 2017
Time: 10am -2pm

Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park

Event: Install banded dotterel fencing and signage on south coast. Continue to do beach clean-up, horned poppy and lupin removal in front of car park.
Date: 15th October 2017
Time: 10am -3pm

Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park

Event: Walk over to Fitzroy bay and start at the northern end clearing all horned poppies south.
Date: 12th November 2017
Time: 10am -3pm

Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park

Event: Continue doing horned poppies on Fitzroy bay or south coast.
Date: 10th December 2017
Time: 10am -3pm

Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park

Event: Horned poppies removal on the south coast between river and climbing boulders.

Hi all

The next event is this Sunday at 10 am. The ranger has asked that we do work on the southern coast, particularly removing any poppies that might flower in spring. We’ll also check the pingao that we planted, remove any new rubbish, and expand some of our “no weed” areas.

The river mouth is closed, so we will meet at the coastal carpark and walk from there. Mark will bring the necessary tools, gloves, etc, but if you have gardening gloves you like, bring them along.

The forecast is looking good – sunshine, light winds. But you never can tell, so pack a jacket and the sunscreen. We’ll have some snacks, but bring a drink and lunch, and we’ll have that somewhere nice like the climbing rocks. This will be a good trip for kids, provided they can cope with an hour or so of walking on loose sand.

If you can come, please let Mark know mark [period] mcalpine [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz and give him your cellphone number so he can text any updates.

If you need or can offer a ride, let Mark know. And don’t forget to persuade your friends – this is a great chance to have a day at the beach while the weather is still benign.

Planting This will be done on 11 June and 9 July. Spot spraying is about to start, and then we’ll do pre-digging just before the events. We’ll be planting a lot of the riverbank area, where gorse control has already been completed. Although this will be easier than last year (no nets in particular), we will still need a good turn-out of volunteers to get them all in the ground.

Three-year biodiversity plan We have now agreed our second three year plan for biodiversity work with the GW biodiversity and parks staff. Much of the work is continuing what we started in the first three years – running the trapping lines, controlling rodents around lizard sites, eradicating horned poppies, planting the river. And then making the most of what has been completed, like the fencing and stock removal. But we also hope to start some new work, including re-introducing some plants that have been lost and restoring the inanga spawning site. So we are looking forward to an exciting few years. We have funding available for much of the work, but several of the projects and the rate of work on things like gorse control will only happen if we can raise additional funds or significantly increase volunteer hours.

Lighthouse work We are closer to starting work on the houses, and it is now just a matter of exactly when, not if. We have also agreed to implement some of the interpretation ideas provided by the Massey students.

Hope to see you Sunday

Regards Paula Warren, Chair, Friends of Baring Head

Dear wonderful volunteers

It’s planting season again, and we have decided to start early and get the island in the river planted before it floods. Assuming it hasn’t flooded before Sunday.

So Sunday we will fertilise the plants along the lower river, plant the island, clean the pumphouse, and replace a board that has rotted out and do any other repairs that are needed. And inspect last year’s plantings and anything else we feel like on the day. The forecast is looking good, so it should be a nice day exploring the river.

Meeting 10am at the bridge carpark. Come prepared to get your feet in the river. Please let Mark know ( if you can come, so I can ensure there is enough cake and tools. I think it might be cake and fruit salad this month – make the most of the end of the summer fruit season. If you need or can offer a ride out, let Mark know.

The events after that will be doing the serious planting work. 14 May, 11 June, 9 July.

The spot spraying will happen soon, and the holes will be dug before each event when we know how many people we will have and what we can get in. Mark and I will then lay out the plants so we are sure the right plant goes in the right place. And we’ll only get as many plants from the nursery on the day as we are sure of getting in. We don’t have huge numbers of plants this year, but we will need good numbers of volunteers for each event to get them in. The good news is that we won’t be bothering with the hare nets. So please put at least one of the dates in your diary and bring along some friends. And if you have a group that would like to do a planting event (e.g. scouts), we can potentially do an event on a day that suits them.

Other news We are very close to starting some real work on the lighthouse houses. We have some funds to pay for the detailed work planning and consent work, and have almost finalized how that will be done. And then we can finally start the physical work. As you can imagine, the trustees are feeling really excited about this. It’s hard to remember that a few years ago we were still worrying that they might be demolished.

And in the meantime we will do some work on the landscaping. We have agreed that we will put a native plants garden up there, with labelled plants so people can get to know both some of the dominant grey scrub plants, and see some of the rare plants that are now represented by only a few individuals hiding out in places the sheep couldn’t reach.

We have also finalized an overall plan for the biodiversity work for the next few years, with a vision for each part of the park. We are now pricing that ready for the next round of fundraising and GW business planning. Looking at what has been achieved so far has reinforced for us just how much work the volunteers have done in a relatively short space of time. I’m sure we’ll achieve even more over the next three years.

Paula Warren, Chair, Friends of Baring Head

Dear volunteers

Event programme

We’ve now set the programme of events for the next few months.

The next event is on 12 February. The current plan (which may change if there is another strong northerly) is to do various jobs, including cutting weeds around the plantings by the river and putting stencilled lighthouses over the tagging on the concrete blocks in the old DOC carpark at the coast. Or maybe remove the dotterel fence if the chicks are old enough. Meet at the coastal carpark at 10am. We’ll have all the equipment, tea, coffee and morning tea. As usual, if you can come let Mark know – And if you need a ride out, or can offer a ride, let him know that.

12 March If we haven’t already done so, we’ll remove the dotterel fence. Alternatively, we’ll wash down the pumphouse, remove the nets from around last year’s plantings and do any other jobs in the valley.

We also hope to run an evening walk in late March. We’ll probably repeat a walk we did last year that proved popular – walking from the carpark over to Fitzroy Bay, looking at geomorphology and geology on the way. We’ll pick an evening when there is a low tide so we can explore all the beach.

9 April Probably working up at the lighthouse. By then we will hopefully have a plan for the first stage of the work on the houses, and we will certainly have a plan for the gardens. One suggestion from a visitor that we will pick up on is to put a rare plants garden in at the lighthouse, so visitors can meet some of the special plants that Baring Head is home to.

14 May We’ll be getting ready for the planting season. We have a lot of plants to get in this year, but the good news is that contractors will be planting the difficult sites and we get river bank where the digging is easy. We also get to plant the little island this year, which should be fun (as long as the river is low of course). So this event will be mostly digging and doing other work ready for the two planting days.

11 June and 9 July Planting days.

Update on the work We had to cancel the January event due to weather – something that happens surprisingly rarely. But while the unusually wet summer hasn’t made the beach great for people, it does mean we don’t have to water the plants this year. The grass is still green and there is good growth on the plants that have been protected from stock browsing by the new fences.

If you haven’t been out lately, you may not be aware that we have now fenced off all the river edge, a lot of the river flats, much of the valley escarpment, the wetlands in Fitzroy Bay, and a patch of coastal vegetation at the southern end of Fitzroy Bay. Contractors have also done a lot of gorse control in parts of the valley and on the escarpment. So we have a lot of sites now ready for planting. It will be interesting to see the way the vegetation changes now that the sheep are out.

We are continuing to run the trapping lines – Colin got 5 possums on Saturday on his line – and there are also bait stations now to reduce mice in the key lizard areas. Mark reports that none of the plantings have been browsed, so the possum control is working.

On Sunday we braved the wind and did a poppy patrol in Fitzroy Bay. Many thanks to Kate for joining Mark and me. I walked from where the road meets the beach nearly as far as the private land, and only got a few hundred plants and about five with flowers. There were some denser patches at each end of the beach, but we grubbed out most of them, and few were flowering. So we really have cracked that problem, and I hope that next summer it will just be a matter of a nice walk along the beach in early December and again in February to ensure nothing gets to produce seed. And we found very little rubbish.

Less pleasing was the vehicle damage on some parts of the beach. This has to be the result of people who have a key to the gate choosing to go off the road. The Friends will be asking GW to tackle the problem. Inside our new beach fence the old vehicle tracks are starting to be colonised by native plants. It only takes one vehicle to prevent seedlings from establishing and kill sensitive plants like Raoulia (vegetable sheep) cushions.

On Saturday I spent a few hours clearing lupins from the area near the climbing rocks. We had started this job in a working bee last year, and the areas cleared then are still clear – I removed very few small lupins, and I suspect that most of those were just missed because they were smaller and among other plants. We now have a large area there which has almost no weeds of any sort – just native grasses and cushion plants. And those are rapidly filling in the gaps. With your help we can keep expanding those clear areas. We will put some temporary fences around some cleared areas to keep the sheep out, and start reintroducing some of the coastal plants that are missing from the area, or only found hiding on the rocks. The climbing rocks area is a great place to while away a summer morning. I alternated weeding with picnicking in the shade of the rocks, beachcombing, and talking to some of the many visitors enjoying the perfect weather. The sea was calm, the tide out, and I got to explore some of the coast that is normally inaccessible.

Thanks again to those who helped out last year. How much we can do is entirely dependent on how many volunteer hours we can put in. So we are really grateful to those of you who can come out. We appreciate that it is a long way to travel, so if there is anything we can do to make volunteering easier for you, let me know.

Paula Chair Friends of Baring Head

Dear volunteers

We have now set the work plan for the next two months.

14 January The official guided walk. Thanks to the people who have volunteered – we do now have enough people to cover this. If you know anyone who might be interested in participating, encourage them to book:

29 January We will walk through all of Fitzroy Bay and remove any poppies that were missed last year. Meet at bridge carpark at 10am. Don’t forget the sunscreen and hat – with luck it will be a lovely day on the beach. We’ll be mostly walking in loose beach gravel, so good walking shoes recommended.

12 February Depending on which way the wind is blowing and how dry it has got, we will be either having a nice day at the beach near the climbing rocks, clearing more of the area we are targeting there. Or watering and mulching last year’s plants if that seems vital. Meet at the bridge carpark at 10am.

House repairs We are also sorting out some work for people with carpentry training, as we have a volunteer keen to start work on the buildings. If you want to be involved in that and have skills, let me know. That can either happen on one of the working bee dates, or we can set a date specifically for that work.

As usual, if you can come please let Mark know: If you need or can offer a lift out, let him know.

We had a great year of volunteer activity last year. Thanks in anticipation of another great year.

Paula Chair Friends of Baring Head

Sunday 16 October. We’ll meet at the bridge carpark at 10am. The plan is to clear poppies from parts of the southern beach. How we get to the site will depend on what the river is doing on the day. If it is closed we’ll drive down to the coastal carpark and walk from there. If it is open we’ll walk down the valley, or Mark will drive us to near the site.

Please let Mark know if you can come, so he can ensure we have the right equipment. If you want to come and need transport, or if you can offer transport, please email Mark, (

Being Spring at Baring Head, please bring clothes suitable for all possibilities. On a recent outing I got sunburnt and was hot in a t-shirt. But on another outing I needed my heavy coat. Strong footwear strongly recommended.

Dotterel fence We had a great volunteer day – lots of people, lots of sun, not much wind, and lots of dotterels. The fence was up by lunchtime, despite the leisurely morning tea break, and we then did some rubbish removal and lupin weeding and beachcombing and went home nice and early. One of the trappers reported that he thought he had seen some dotterel chicks on a recent visit, which would be very fast work by the parents. I’m hoping to get an ornithologist out there this weekend to see what they are up to.

AGM We had a successful AGM. The one significant outcome was that Joy Baird has unfortunately resigned as our chair – she now has other calls on her time that meant she didn’t feel able to continue. The AGM recognized with gratitude her role in helping to turn the Friends into a successful organization during its first five years. I was elected as chair, Colin continues as Treasurer, and we will need to find a new secretary.

We need more trustees We have a lot of exciting activities coming up, and need a bigger pool of trustees to help keep things moving. We are also particularly in need of people with skills in website management and social media work – as trustees or just as volunteers leading those particular functions. If any of you might be interested, or know someone who would be, please get in touch.

Post-AGM talk on the Wainuiomata catchment initiative Melody McLauchlin from the Remutaka Forest Park Trust outlined the work that is underway to connect the work of various organisations, including FOBH, into an overall programme to improve the river and the biodiversity in the valley. There is a limit to what we can do at the bottom of the catchment if the rest of the catchment is generating weeds, floods, pollution, etc. So we are very keen to help create this wider project.

Work plan for biodiversity We and GW have agreed the work plan for the next year. Key roles for us will be to stop the horned poppies from setting seed and gradually eliminate them; get some parts of the coast relatively weed free; and plant another 3-4000 plants along the river edge. Key projects for GW staff and contractors include spraying the marram on the southern coast; following up the boxthorn control; and completing gorse removal from the escarpment.

Work plan for the lighthouse complex We now have full agreement on what we are aiming to achieve, and in what order the work will be done. This will be an expensive project, so how quickly this happens will depend on whether the Friends can raise significant money for the work. In the short term we will be aiming to get the gardens cleaned up and re-planted.

Paula For the trustees 021 101 4824

Dear volunteers

Our next event on Sunday 11 September will be putting up the dotterel fence.

Banded dotterels nest on the coast near the coastal carpark, and we put up a simple warratah and string fence around the nesting area each year to encourage visitors to stay away from that area, to reduce disturbance and the risk that nests will be damaged. That work, with the intensive trapping programme, has resulted in a huge increase in the number of chicks that get to fledgling stage. The birds have started to arrive for this year’s breeding season, so we need to get the fence up.

The work involves carrying the fence pieces (posts, warratahs and rope) to the site below the coastal carpark, and then helping the ranger get the posts into the sand and the rope strung along them. So there will be jobs for strong people who can carry heavy items, and for kids who can help lay out the ropes. If we have capacity, we’ll also do a rubbish clean-up along that part of the coast, and hopefully also paint over the tagging on the concrete blocks in the old DOC carpark.

We’ll meet at 10am at the coastal carpark. We’ll finish early afternoon, but you can come for as short or long a period as you like. If you know you are coming, please let Mark know ( If you need a ride out, let him know and we’ll see what we can arrange. If you can offer a ride to someone else, let him know.

We’ll have gloves available, but if you have gardening gloves bring those. Bring your lunch, but we’ll have tea and coffee and some snacks. We have had bright sunshine for the recent events, but depending on the weather you might need a coat or sunscreen or both. If it is a strong northerly, wear trousers and long sleeves to avoid being sand blasted.

The event will happen almost regardless of weather, but if it is cancelled I’ll put that on the Friends facebook page, and Mark will email anyone who has contacted him.

The October event will be on Sunday 16 October. We’ll probably be working on the south coast on horned poppies, but will decide closer to the time.

Paula 021 101 4824

Hi all

We have made one change to the calendar, affecting the next event. We realised that we had scheduled the planting day for Queens Birthday weekend, and it would be better to shift it to the following Sunday, June 12.

This will be the major planting day of the year, and we will try to have the holes pre-dug so we can get a lot of plants (all the plants?) in on that day. So we’ll need lots of people. So even if you can only come for a short period, every little bit will help.

There will be updates on our Facebook page closer to the event. If you can’t easily use Facebook, let me know and I’ll email the updates to you.

We will also have some days mid-week ahead of the planting when we’ll be out there doing preparatory work. So if you would like to help, let me know.

Paula Warren For the trustees 021 101 4824

Hi all

At this stage, unless the weather does something unexpected, we will be focusing on poppies and other weed control on the southern coast. The rain just doesn’t seem to be arriving, so planting is obviously not going to happen as early as we had hoped.

Our primary aim will be to remove all the remaining weeds from the spinifex edge of the southern coast. We’ve been focusing on that area on previous work days, and there aren’t many weeds left in there, except a big patch of marram grass that the ranger will spray at the right time of the year. But there are a few lupins, box thorn and other things that need loppers/poison treatment. The spinifex is expanding back towards the escarpment, and has flowered well this year. So by the end of this coming work day, we should have just native vegetation along the edge of most of the beach.

Other than that what we work on will depend a bit on how many volunteers we get and what people want to do.

It would be good to send a couple of people along Fitzroy Bay to take out any poppies that have come up since we last cleared it. Apart from the private land block, we have pretty much achieved eradication (in the sense of no plants producing seed) along the bay. With the permission of those landowners we have extended our programme towards Eastbourne into the Maori land block, so there is a buffer between the poppies on that part of the beach and what we have cleared. So we want to make sure that any more plants the come up are taken out before they flower. Surveillance along the bay is now a fun job for anyone who wants an excuse for a long walk on the beach. When we have the ranger with a vehicle, it can be done from the north or the south depending on the wind direction. But if anyone wants to volunteer to do that as an independent activity on another day, just let me know.

At both ends of the southern coast we have cleared most of the poppies on previous outings. But there’s still a nice big patch in the middle of virgin, dense infestation. The aim for 2016 is to get all that area cleared of old plants, so in December removing anything with flowers along the whole coast will be feasible. Hopefully we can clear a bit more of that on the 8th.

We did a beach clean-up last time we were out there. So on the 8th we will put in another beach clean-up station like the one we have in Fitzroy Bay, so walkers can drop rubbish off for the ranger to collect, rather than having to carry it all the way back to the carpark. We don’t seem to get a lot of new rubbish coming up, so if we can persuade the people who use that area to pick up a few bits on their way through, we should be able to keep the problem under control.

If you know you can come, please email me so we can ensure there are enough tools and morning tea. If you need more information ring me on 4713118 (work) or 021 101 4824. If you need a ride (from Woburn station), that can probably be arranged.

Looking forward to seeing lots of keen volunteers on the 8th


Hi all

Thanks to those who came last Sunday. We had just enough people to get two important jobs done – removing the dotterel fence and loading the trailer with the results of the corporate group beach clean-up.

This Sunday we’ll be working on the historic buildings – washing down the pumphouse and then doing some more work on the lighthouse complex grounds. To make real progress we need lots of volunteers, so make the most of the continuing fine weather by coming out. And as an added incentive, the ranger will ferry people up to the lighthouse, so a good chance to enjoy that area without a long walk.

We’ll meet at the bridge carpark at 10am. As usual, if you know you can come, send an email to Mark or me to let us know. That way we can put in enough tools, buy enough cake, etc. But if you decide to come out at the last minute, we’d still love to see you.

Hoping to see you on Sunday Paula Warren For the trustees 021 101 4824

The weather is looking good, so we’ll take down the dotterel fence and pile the rubbish that was collected by the Z energy group onto the trailer for removal. So it should be a nice day at the beach, and you’ll have plenty of time to do a bit of beachcombing or sit and watch the waves. And if we have plenty of people we should be able to get some horned poppies done as well.

If you know you can come, let Mark know. If you need a ride, contact me (021 101 4824).

Meet 10am at the coastal carpark. If you are coming a bit later, you’ll easily see us working on the beach just below the carpark removing the fence.

Hope to see you Sunday.


2016 Calendar of Events

The work this year will focus on four areas:

The riverbank area has been fenced off, and stock will be removed from that area fairly soon. We need to make significant progress in planting that retired area, and have 4000 plants ready to go in near the wetlands. We hope to have the holes dug with a post-hole borer, which will make the job much faster. But our experience in earlier plantings has led to us deciding to try to get the plants mulched and watered as they go in, so they get a better start to life. So we’ll be doing some site preparation work in advance of the actual plantings.

The council has finalised general plans for the lighthouse complex, and the priority this year will be to get the grounds around the houses restored, and to weatherproof the buildings. Major works cannot proceed until funds have been raised, but we hope to at least have the funds to put in an interpretation centre and shelter for day visitors. The work on the grounds has started, and involves clearing the concrete around the buildings, restoring the rock garden in the middle of the driveway area, removing problem weeds from the grounds, and replanting areas.

We are making great progress in eradicating horned poppies from the coast. Fitzroy Bay is now largely clear (other than on the private land), but we need to do a quick walk through and remove any flowering plants about monthly over the summer. The area immediately around the climbing rocks is also fairly clear, and so are some patches of the southern coast (including all the seaward edge that has spinifex growing in it). Our focus this year will be to ensure that the cleared areas do not get any new seed, and to expand the areas that have had a first treatment.

Monitoring suggests that rubbish on the beach is relatively slow to accumulate. So we’ll get a corporate team to clear all the old rubbish on the southern beach (including a large fishing net and a number of ruined cray pots), and then we can just pick up any new materials each time we go through to do poppy control.

Many of the jobs can be easily done with no or little equipment, by individuals or groups who are out there to recreate. So if you belong to or know of a walking group, scout group, people who like going out to bike, climb or fish, or anyone else who needs an excuse to visit a wonderful place, they could easily help with these jobs. For example climbers walking in to the climbing rocks can easily pull out any new poppies from the cleared areas, or pick up any rubbish and put it where it can be collected by the ranger. Anyone who wants an excuse to get wet can remove weed from the river and put it in bags for the ranger to collect for mulching plants. Poppy checks in Fitzroy Bay are easily done by a walking group, as the flowering plants are fairly infrequent and easily spotted.

We’d also love to have a group of gardeners take over the lighthouse gardens (gate key can be provided to make access easy).

And of course if you have a club or corporate group that would like to arrange an event to suit, just get in touch with Mark (

All the events will be advertised on the Friends of Baring Head Facebook site and also the at Greater Wellington Regional Council event page . For updates, including cancellations and detailed arrangements see the Friends Facebook page.

March 2016

4th March – 20 corporate volunteers. Continue removing horned poppies and rubbish between Wainuiomata River and climbing boulders. If have time continue past boulders.

27th March – FOBH working bee. Clean pump house and then head up to lighthouse and continue clearing paths and start removing weeds. Also a quick walk-over of Fitzroy Bay near road end to remove any poppies with flower heads.

April 2016

3rd April – FOBH working bee. Remove dotterel fence, paint over the graffiti on the concrete blocks in the DoC carpark, and do a clean-up along that part of the coast, including removing any flowering horned poppies.

May 2016

Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved .

8th May – Starting planting if the ground is wet enough. If not either planting site preparation work, or further work on the lighthouse complex gardens.

Late May – potentially a further working bee to do planting site preparation.

June 2016

5th June – Planting around wetlands.

Late June – Potentially a further working bee to do planting site preparation ready for the July planting day.

July 2016

3rd July - Planting around wetlands in Baring Head. Backup date of the 17th in case of bad weather or if all plants not yet in. If planting is completed before then, continue with Lighthouse complex work.

August 2016

Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved .

14th August - FOBH working bee. Continue lighthouse complex work.

September 2016

11th September - FOBH working bee. Install dotterel fence and signs on Baring Head beach, remove rubbish, and remove any horned poppies. BNZ stop for good - Apply and use where needed.

October 2016

16th October – FOBH working bee. Horned poppy removal from southern coast and lighthouse garden work. Walk through of part of Fitzroy Bay to remove any poppies that may be able to flower before Christmas.

Possibly an additional day in late October to continue horned poppy removal from southern coast.

November 2016

Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved .

13th November – FOBH working Bee. Horned poppy removal from climbing rocks end of Fitzroy Bay and cleared part of southern coast. Possibly an additional day in November to remove more horned poppies.

December 2016

11th December - FOBH working bee. Horned poppy removal and beach clean-up on southern coast near river mouth. Aim is to ensure no seed can be produced, so depending on how many poppies are left, possibly focus on cutting off heads rather than digging the plants out.

Late December – walk through of Fitzroy Bay and the cleared part of southern coast to remove any new flowering plants.


Page last modified on 2021 Mar 30 03:36

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