Doing the Mahi – enjoying conservation volunteerism, by Sarah Fisher

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      Tony Gazley

      By Sarah Fisher

      Volunteerism is crucial to the sustainability of our backcountry, not only for the protection of our flora and fauna but also our unique backcountry hut network. It is the foundation of all tramping clubs across New Zealand and is necessary to keep the spirit of adventure in New Zealand’s backcountry alive.

      Adventuring in the outdoors, whether it be in our backcountry or just on my local urban trails, has given me so much joy, friendship, and new skills that I just want to give back to the places I love so that others can be given the same opportunities. 

      There are so many ways you can get involved in conservation volunteerism, within our club and the wider outdoors community. The Department of Conservation estimates that around 200,000 New Zealanders give their time to conservation projects each year. Every little bit counts and we all can contribute in a meaningful way. 

      Here’s just a few ways to get involved in conservation volunteerism. 

      Club volunteerism

      “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.”

      Our club relies on volunteers to keep it running. Without these volunteers, our club simply wouldn’t exist! There are so many volunteer roles within our club that have a different range of time commitment. Volunteer roles include trip leading, emergency contact volunteers, newsletter contributors, course instructors, club night speakers, gear custodians, van cleaners and committee members. Every little contribution keeps our club going strongly. Right now our club is thriving but we always need more volunteers to sustain it.  A plug from me as Emergency Contacts Manager – I’m always looking for new volunteers for different weekends so please just get in touch with me at me to be an emergency contact volunteer. 

      Backcountry Hut & Track Network Volunteerism

      The rebuild team at Rocks Ahead Bivvy ready to packraft home down the Ngaruroro River [photo Backcountry Trust]

      “When enough people come together, then change will come and we can achieve almost anything. So instead of looking for hope — start creating it.” 

      A number of volunteer organisations work in partnership with DoC to maintain our backcountry huts and tracks. One of these organisations is Backcountry Trust ( Our club members, AJ Esler and Illona Keenan, recently contributed to a Backcountry Trust project that involved major refurbishment to both Rocks Ahead Biv and Rocks Ahead Hut in the Kaweka Range before they packrafted their way back down the Ngaruroro River! 

      Another one is Greater Wellington Backcountry Network ( that WTMC is a member of and club member John sits on the committee of GWBN. Tony G and I recently did a trip up to Maungahuka Hut to do a few small jobs for the GWBN that included fixing the water tank tap that had been broken for many months. It’s fantastic to feel like you are giving back to our hut network and preserving our precious backcountry heritage. 

      WTMC also has an agreement with DOC to look after the Mountain House Shelter in the Tararua Range. The shelter was built and is still maintained by club volunteers. Find out more info and how you can help here. 

      Mountain House Shelter – WTMC built and maintained [photo Tony Gazley]

      Predator Free New Zealand Volunteerism

      DOC 200 trap at Waimapihi [photo Sarah Fisher]

      Birds of Waimapihi sign [photo Sarah Fisher]

      “If you want to save a species or habitat, it’s a fight forevermore. You can never turn your back.”

      Community predator programs are easy to get involved in and incredibly rewarding. Small steps that all contribute towards our community efforts of the goal of Predator Free New Zealand – we’re aiming not just to hold the line against predators anymore but push that line right back until we achieve eradication so we can insure the future for our native species. It’s a big goal but we can’t afford to be anything less than ambitious if we want to succeed.

      I am currently involved with two different traplines covering around 50 DOC ‘200’ predator traps in my local bush reserve, Waimapihi (formerly Polhill). I love knowing I am contributing towards helping our native birds like kākā and tīeke thrive and making it a safer home for them.

      DoC Volunteerism

      “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

      DoC has lots of projects that you can apply to get involved in.

      I’ve signed up to the Takahē Recovery Programme and I’m super excited about going to Te Anau in April to volunteer for a week at the Burwood Takahē Recovery Centre! It will involve working with the resident Takahē and doing predator control work.

    • #62203 Reply

      Great ideas – thanks

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