Queen’s Birthday in Alert Level 2

How has your lockdown been?

New Zealand moved into Covid 19 Alert Level 2 on Wednesday 13 May and is likely to remain so over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Daily life is reclaiming its familiar rhythms – rubbish collections are almost back to normal (see note on recycling below) and local businesses are welcoming back their long-lost clients – albeit under the latest Covid 19 Alert Level 2 restrictions. Help these businesses to recover from the lockdown by shopping locally when you can.

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It’s a good time to acknowledge the essential workers in the community who did their jobs under the most challenging conditions – our elderly were looked after, supermarket shelves were stocked, the Whangamata medical centre operated as normal as well as running a CBAC (Community Based Assessment Centre) for Covid19 testing and first responder services busily rostered their teams under social distancing rules and helped out in the community where needed.

Easter and Anzac Day passed with just the locked-down locals here to mark the occasions, it has been very strange to see so many empty houses, day after day, week after week. It will be great to see familiar faces returning to Opoutere and Ohui over Queen’s Birthday weekend. By then more rain will have fallen and your water tanks will be topped up in time for the long weekend. (All rain dances appreciated.)

A little note on recycling

While all paper, cardboard and tins can be put in your recycling bin and glass in the smaller bins TCDC are restricting the plastic they are accepting. From TCDC:

“Most hard plastics have a number on the bottom in a triangle made of arrows. The number refers to the type of plastic. Typical examples of plastics 1 and 2 are milk bottles, drink bottles, food jars, personal cosmetics.

The best way to be sure of the plastic type is to LOOK FOR THE NUMBER. If the number is not 1 or 2, or if there is no number, put it in your general rubbish.

The recycle.co.nz website has good information on identifying recyclable plastics.”

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Attention bird nerds!

Thanks to the work of a dedicated team of DOC rangers and community volunteers the Wharekawa Wildlife Refuge on the harbour spit has had a successful breeding season this summer. The spit refuge has provided a safe breeding site for many species of sea and shore birds since 1967 when it was gazetted under the Wildlife Act 1953 as a wildlife refuge.

Home to the northern NZ dotterel (the NNZD is now classified as “At Risk – recovering”) the spit also accommodates variable oystercatchers, Caspian terns, wrybills, pied stilts and southern black-backed and red-billed gulls, among others.


Stewart and Frouk of the NZ Dotterel Watch Programme (DOC) survey the spit. (Photo Dave Burbage)

In the 2019/2020 breeding season DOC officers Frouk and Stewart were ably assisted by Dave Burbage, a local volunteer. They were a familiar sight all along the beach and particularly on the spit – they shared information with the public, monitored nests, checked predator traps and erected protective fencing around the spit area. Over the busy Christmas and New Year period rostered volunteers from the community protected the nesting birds from human and dog disturbance by watching the entrance to the spit at low tide.

Dogs on the beach are banned year round south of the main beach entrance (look for those yellow benches) all the way to the estuary mouth. Please obey the signs and keep this area a peaceful and safe place for the birds.

This is the only shoreline wildlife refuge on the whole Coromandel Peninsula. Let’s take care of it and the birds that call it home.


A caspian tern and chick. (Photo Dave Burbage)

Visit this website’s page on The Birds of Opoutere which includes an in-depth report on Opoutere’s birdlife authored by Dr John Dowding (ecologist and bird expert).

Some great breeding results for the dotterels

During the 2019/2020 breeding season the Wharekawa Wildlife Refuge had 13 nesting pairs and successfully fledged 16 chicks.

“From 46 sites throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, 227 breeding pairs were monitored this season. 213 chicks fledged giving a productivity value of 0.94 (Productivity = Fledgling numbers divided by Pair numbers). Productivity is considered effective if the value of 0.5 or higher is achieved for at least 3 consecutive years (Dowding & Davis, cited in Bryant, 2013). 

2014/2015 through to 2019/2020 seasons have exceeded the necessary 0.5 rate. 2017/2018 was only just below the effective productivity value with 0.49 due largely to the major storm that occurred in January 2018.”

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For results for all the monitored beaches around the Coromandel have a look at Results 2020. 

Tāne’s Tree Trust in Opoutere

There’s an exciting new program focused on adaptive management of coastal forestry buffers being trialled in the Opoutere dunes in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and local iwi, with support from the community.

Tāne’s Tree Trust’s vision is to see the majority of New Zealand landowners successfully planting and sustainably managing indigenous trees. For details on this specific project visit their website.

Selected sites in the coastal forest reserve have been identified for low-impact trial plantings of several species of native seedlings. The knowledge gained will help to improve biodiversity in the ecosystems around coastal forestry blocks.

Some planting has already taken place at Ohui where members of the community stepped up with gumboots and spades to get several circular plots planted out. A recent visit by the trust’s scientists showed surprisingly good survival rates over the very dry summer (titoki planted in sand were doing very well).

Further planting will take place during 2020 at two small sites in the beach reserve forest – TTT are keen for members of the community to come along and help out with the planting. They do mention that the plants may end up looking a bit ratty and sad – don’t be alarmed, this is all part of the test!


Noho Ora Mai!



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