Monday, 22 November 2010

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

By Sue Hensley
The eight kiwi released in November are exploring their new home and it seems that one of the favoured feeding grounds is the grassy areas near the main tracks at the top of the Ecosanctuary. I guess that it shouldn't be surprising since under the mat of long wet grass is soft moist earth and juicy grubs. What was surprising for me was how big the probe holes are that kiwi make when they push their beak right up to their head to reach their prey. It has also been really exciting to discover kiwi poo on the tracks and the guides have been down on their hands and knees to learn and identify its distinctive smell!
The upgrade of the top to bottom Valley Track is almost complete thanks to another helicopter drop of gravel courtesy of the Rotary Club of Dunedin. It has been a massive job and track ranger Craig Leach and many many volunteers over the last year have put in untold hours of heavy work. There have also been extensive changes to the route due to water problems on the old track. The new sections show off some beautiful old trees, including one part where John Barkla of the Botanical Society found a rare perching orchid (Drymoanthus flavus).
The Visitor Centre, designed by Tim Heath of Purakaunui, has recently won a prestigious architectural award. I think the birds, too, have given it the seal of approval with the pond award from the paradise ducks, the best nest place from the swallows and best fast food outlet (the exterior wooden blinds that house lots of spiders and insects!) from the fantails and bellbirds. It is also a great building to work in and not many people have such an amazing view from their workplace. Congratulations to Tim.
Christmas is nearly upon us and gifts and guided tour vouchers etc are available from the Visitor Centre shop. Visitor Centre and cafe are open every day 9.30 - 4.30. Orokonui facebook and will keep you up to date with events.
A big thank you to those local volunteers who have dedicated many hours to the Ecosanctuary project. Thank you also to those who support Orokonui through memberships, visiting, attending events and such like. Places like Orokonui survive on your generosity. Merry Christmas to all and wherever you go, safe travelling.

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