Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary Volunteer programme which was offered by The Campbell Institute and Octavian was definitely different from other adventures, or tour programmes in New Zealand. It was just a great experience!
I am a South Korean mother and I studied and worked as an intern for 2 years in The Campbell Institute Auckland Campus. Fortunately, my friend’s family and mine could join this volunteer programme for three days this Easter Holiday. The impression I had of this programme was that we could participate in some nature conservation activities like feeding some rare birds in the deep forest. But I realized that this was completely false when I met Octavian.
He came to my house to give us a lift to Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary from Wellington. I just thought he was a travel agent, but he was the private owner of the 100 hectares of land and he had got permission for this private forest to become a sanctuary. He showed us some trees being cut down in the mountains on the way to the sanctuary, and he told us it is essential for the future to protect the trees, and we totally agree with him.
On the way to the sanctuary, we visited Piroa Fall and climbed Tokatoka Peak. The peak was a particulary steep but short climb of 20 metres before the summit. From the top of this peak, the 360-degree view was stunning. The 20 minute climb was well worth it!
The sanctuary is located on the west cost of New Zealand, like a nest on the slopes of the Tutamoe peak in Northland and this region is not often popular with tourists. So we were able to enjoy the extremely pure nature at the sanctuary.
The accommodation is very different as well. There was no power, and no flushing toilet but we can use the water which is collected from rain drops on the roof.
On the night, we saw the Southern cross, Sagittarius and Milky Way without a telescope. After that, we walked through a dense, jungle-like forest wearing gumboots and using torches for 3 hours. The ferns were taller than us and the ground was covered in wet moss. We were the explorers of middle earth! We found NZ crayfish and an ell in the brook and glow warms on the wall of the dark cave and heard the hunting call of kiwi. I will never forgot these precious memories.
On the second day, it was the start of the activities as volunteers, we made a path in the dense forest. We cut the vines and branches from the path, and it was very important to protect the trees from the possums. We checked the traps and filled them with poison which can kill possums gradually in the plastic bottle. We never had experienced this kind of work before and it was definitely difficult, but we felt very proud of ourselves.
The meals which were offered three times a day were different as well. We could only cook on gas burner. It was very impressive and I realized we can live with just a small amount of energy. Hot water for the shower came from a generator which was powered by sunlight.
The night safari also an exciting experience. We looked for wild kiwi in Trounson Kauri Park without making any noise. It was interesting that the wild kiwis would not be disturbed by red light. We were lucky enough to see some wild kiwi and their nest that night.
On the 3rd day of the volunteer programme, we visited Tane Mahuta: the Lord of the Forest, which was a 2000-year-old Kauri tree. We arrived safely at our place in Auckland after approximately 4 hours of driving from the sanctuary. Thanks for all Octavian’s efforts. He is a savior of the future for our environment and has made me try to change my way of living.
Yeon Lee – South Korea