Summer In Review

As autumn marches across the landscape it’s a good time to reflect on summer’s happenings.


We have enjoyed fantastic conditions for losing ourselves in the natural world of Opoutere , with record high temperatures and long, settled weather patterns. By February the water tankers were plying their trade in the village as domestic reserves ran low, mercifully late-March has seen welcome rain filling the tanks and reviving the soil.



Thanks to everyone who:

  • came along to the AGM and contributed to the community conversation
  • paid their ORRA subscriptions (It’s not too late! Go to this page for bank details.)
  • attended working bees
  • participated in the regatta and prize giving bbq on the Michael King Reserve (top work Shan, Gavin, Rachel and Simon)
  • signed up for Dotterel Watch (especially Gordon Ikin who organised the roster)
  • donated to our forestry consultant fund
  • controlled plant and animal pests on their land
  • kept an eye on boat traffic in the harbour during the busy holiday period
  • did their bit, said their piece and kept Opoutere beautiful.

Budding eco-champion Lorena with a DOC200 trap, peanut butter lure and a chunk of rabbit for good luck!


ORRA would also like to publicly acknowledge:

  • the Waikato Regional Council’s Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund. Money received has been used to buy cutting tools, pesticide and safety equipment for working bees.
  • Eureka Enterprises, who have supported our ginger removal efforts by generously discounting our favourite hand tool – the Niwashi Garden Shark.
    Working bee with Garden Sharks

    Some of our hard-working volunteers (including George the dog) brandishing Garden Sharks. Recent victims of the Garden Sharks can be seen in the background.



ORRA’s predator control work, spearheaded by Chris Woudenberg, has contributed to a very successful breeding season for the banded rail population. They are often seen dashing across the road as if in a blind panic (insouciance is not their style) and are notoriously shy. You may hear their distinctive call in the wetlands and around the estuarine shoreline. The Wharekawa Catchment Care Group (in conjunction with Waikato Regional Council) has been busy setting up traplines in the Kapakapa wetlands area, which will further protect the banded rail community in that part of the village.

Over the summer months a family with chicks were frequently spotted in the mangroves by the beach carpark footbridge, one was captured in the photo below.

Val's banded rail

Banded rail at Waponga Reserve footbridge. Photo by Val Herbert


Spot the banded rail! From WRC’s Facebook page.


Hats off to Glenda Betts who took on the job of DOC’s Dotterel Ranger for Opoutere this season.  Glenda has worked tirelessly alongside DOC Ranger Frouk Miller to tally up eggs, chicks and fledglings and protect nesting sites. While protecting dotterel nests on the Wharekawa Spit one day they experienced abusive behaviour from some members of the public and ORRA would like to acknowledge the important job they did and express our sadness that this sort of event happened while people were protecting an endangered species.

A summary of the dotterel breeding season will be published in the Easter update on these pages.



While the sun shone during the busy holiday period much work was done by volunteers at well-attended working bees.

Weed Removal in the Beach Reserve Forest

During late-December and early-January teams of people worked to remove kahili ginger in the beach forest. The difference is amazing.

However, while the native understory is thriving in the newly liberated terrain, dormant ginger seeds are still rising like tiny, green zombies out of the soil!  Thankfully, the forest provides a lovely work environment so the prospect of regular ginger sessions is surprisingly appealing.  There are always interesting people to chat with as you crawl about in the undergrowth pulling out ginger. An added bonus is that the emerging carpet of native plant seedlings is a magical sight to see.

Keep an eye on the bus shelter for working bee notices.



Thanks to Chris Woudenberg for his determination in tackling plant pests (not just ginger but also barberry, ink weed, privet, cotoneaster, pampas…the list goes on) – he has methodically mapped the areas needing work, organised the materials required, and rallied the troops.


Bruce’s Bay Causeway Repairs

At the ORRA AGM in January concerns were raised about the deterioration of the little stone walkway that crosses Bruce’s Bay. This causeway provides safe passage for pedestrians who would otherwise be navigating a very tight corner on a busy road with little to no footpath. It was originally constructed (under a veil of anonymity and largely solo) by Bruce Collier, a resident whose name attaches to this little cove due to his herculean efforts to transform it into a pleasant corner of the village. Bruce now resides at the Booms Care Home in Thames.

ORRA committee members Stuart Farmer and Keryn Kliskey teamed up with Peter Le Heron and organised working bees to lay new foundations for the bridge, reinforce the causeway and repair the wooden rails on the bridge. Rocks and builders’ mix were donated, Peter provided a concrete mixer, many barrows of heavy cement and rocks were hauled about, morning teas were provided by Angela Peters and everyone went home tired and perfumed by the mud of Bruce’s Bay!

Thanks to all the strong arms, legs and backs that tackled this tough job and to Angela Peters for the wonderful photos and refreshments.


Enjoy the lovely autumn days, the next update will be at Easter.






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