Fiordland National Park, Southland – November-December 2020
The coastline of the Hollyford Track is one of the most magnificent in New Zealand – with sand dunes, rocky reefs, wild surf, forest right to the edge of the sea, and the backdrop of the Darran Mountains and Red Hills. Late last year, volunteers from the Hollyford Conservation Trust completed work on a section of track between Martins Bay and Big Bay, north of the Hollyford Track, facilitated by a BCT grant. In recent years, this coastal track had become heavily overgrown by vegetation, particularly kiekie and harakeke (flax).
The track is used by trampers, hunters and pack-rafters. Additionally, members of the Hollyford Conservation Trust use the track to access stoat traps that help protect a population of tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) living along this coast. The Trust has an existing management agreement with DOC to undertake intensive pest control operation over 2,600ha of the lower Hollyford Valley Whakatipu Waitai area.
The team, which included volunteers Mike and Don McConchie, with support from Marian Woodall, worked from Martins Bay Hut. The hardest section was the 1.5km stretch between Long Reef and the western end of Big Bay, which required hand cutting. Altogether, the track-cutters expended 64 person-hours.
They also observed over 30 different species of birds, only four of which were introduced species. Mike reported, ‘We frequently saw Fiordland crested penguins … and often heard chicks calling out. It was funny to see one adult lying in a freshwater puddle beside the track having a wash! We avoided disturbing a number of dotterels out on the spit. At least one pair had chicks, which were the size of a large bumble bee, and raced around in the driftwood and pingao.’