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: https://millionmetres.org.nz/open-project/2018-wainuiomata-restoration-at-baring-head and encourage your friends to contribute. We aim to plant all the river banks over the next few years.
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.
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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org.
10am at the coastal carpark. With a bigger turnout it should only take a couple of hours.
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.
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
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 – email@example.com – 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
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.
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
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.
Chair, Friends of Baring Head
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Friends of Baring Head
Calendar of Events for Baring Head
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park
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 (Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
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 – email@example.com. 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, (Mark.McAlpine@gw.govt.nz).
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 Rimutaka 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
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 (Mark.McAlpine@gw.govt.nz). 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 https://www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Baring-Head-148506125227491/, 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
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
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
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 (email@example.com).
All the events will be advertised on the Friends of Baring Head Facebook site and also the at Greater Wellington Regional Council event page http://www.gw.govt.nz/events/ . For updates, including cancellations and detailed arrangements see the Friends Facebook page.
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.
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.
Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved Sara.Moylan@gw.govt.nz .
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.
5th June – Planting around wetlands.
Late June – Potentially a further working bee to do planting site preparation ready for the July planting day.
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.
Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved Sara.Moylan@gw.govt.nz .
14th August - FOBH working bee. Continue lighthouse complex work.
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.
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.
Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved Sara.Moylan@gw.govt.nz .
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.
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.