Thursday, March 10, 2016

_______________________ FIFTEEN POHUTUKAWAS _____________________

My good friend Gerry, an active conservationist was lamenting the fact a couple of days ago that he wouldn't be here in Whangarei to look after fifteen Pohutakawa trees that he had planted earlier in the year as he was moving to Wellington to be closer to family. After inquiring as to what 'looking after' entailed I offered to take on the job of keeping an eye on his plantings by removing the Kikuyu grass that will regularly grow and overwhelm the young trees. I wasn't able to go with him yesterday as he did his last feeding of the trees with manure but today I took a paddle to take a look at my new charges. I landed on a long low lying island that was surrounded by mangroves and muddy channels.

The high ground across the channel behind my kayak is Limestone Island which is now a reserve and has been planted over the years with native plants and trees by volunteers (myself included). There are Kiwi, Geckoes, Wetas and a wide range of other endangered flora and fauna on the island. The Island has a full time ranger and is managed by the Limestone Island Trust.

This is what greeted me as I approached the beach. It is one of many bait stations that are part of a strategy to keep Limestone Island predator free. There are similar bait stations on all the other low lying areas close to Limestone Island and on the Island itself. The fact is rats, stoats and weasels are quite capable of swimming across the short channels that surround Limestone Island and killing the bird life - especially Kiwi.

This is one of the brand new Pohutukawas that have been planted. My job will be to visit this area a few times a year to clear the Kikuyu away from the trees until they grow to a size where they won't be overwhelmed by this hardy and quick growing grass.

The large piece of driftwood in the background show that this low lying area can be almost under water on king tides or during combinations of high tides and stormy weather.

All the Pohutukawa I looked at were healthy and thriving. This area is ideal habitat for these trees whose roots don't mind a periodic dunking is salt water. Indeed they will thrive in this salt water marine environment.

Another bait station, this one close to the shore and ready for high winds with a rock on its roof.

The kayak back on top of the car. The area I visited is beyond Portland Channel on the other side  of Limestone Island which is to the left in the above photograph. I paddled back between the island and the mainland (to the right) with a following south west wind. It occurred to me that I could have had a rather pleasant down wind run if I had a sail up. Indeed you can purchase little kayak sails made especially for this very situation - running downwind with a following wind - must look into that.

Post Script -This orange 'sit on' kayak belongs to my brother. We went and collected it from Kerikeri last week when he won it on a NZ TradeMe auction. Looks like I will have some kayaking company from time to time - that will be nice; he can help me look after the Pohutukawas.


Dan Gurney said...

Taking care of those trees sounds like a fun job.

Regarding downwind sails for kayaks, I've used the windpaddle sail ( with very good results. It's effective and so easy and simple to use. I use it a lot.

I've also got a kayaksailor rig ( which is a "better" sail rig for kayaks. You can sail to weather with it. It has leeboards and a fully battened sail. It cost a lot more money, is more complicated, and stays home most of the time. Simple is good when it comes to sailing kayaks.

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for that information Dan. I think you are correct, simple is good. If I want to have a really good sail I do have some other options, but a the windpaddle sail you mention or its equivalent is all I really need for kayaking.

Charlotte Hawkins said...

What a great friend you are Dad, such a lovely thing to do for Jerry (and the island).

Alden Smith said...

Charlotte, I quite like the idea of being a guardian of 17 Pohutukawa trees - just don't give me a badge or a rule book and charge me a subscription : > )