The pohutukawa are dropping their lovely red blossoms, the village is filling up, the beach is getting busy and there’s no doubt that the summer holidays have arrived. Here’s the latest:
A FIRE WARNING FROM THE CHIEF: Please be aware that there is a total fire ban in place for the whole Coromandel peninsula, this means no open fires of any kind, including fireworks. The El Nino weather pattern is expected to bring very dry conditions to the area this summer and the Onemana Volunteer Fire Brigade will be patrolling in the village and along the beach every night. For further information visit the TCDC website.
Call Jo Adams, 0274493034 with any questions, or to dob in your neighbours when they let rip with the sky rockets on New Year’s eve.
ROAD SAFETY: There is now a bright red band painted on the road as you enter the 50km zone from the main highway, please take note and reduce your speed as you travel through Opoutere.
DOTTEREL WATCH: There is a roster on the bus shelter noticeboard, sign up and help us protect the dotterels on the spit at low tide during the busy holiday period. DOC’s dotterel ranger reports that several cats have been caught, predatory black backed gulls were culled and as a result we have a good number of dotterel chicks. It’s now so critically important to reduce disturbance from people and dogs so that these babies can fledge, that’s where the dotterel watch team comes into play. Volunteers stand by the sign at the north end of the sandpit on the estuary side and divert people over the boardwalk rather than around the spit, this ensures the dotterels and their chicks can feed at low tide. The dotterel ranger’s name is Frouk Miller and she can be reached on 027 285 6519.
At this time of year dogs are totally banned from the Wharekawa and Ohui ends of Opoutere Beach, if you see a dog on the spit please call 07 868 0200 to be put through to the TCDC dog ranger. Read on for more detail regarding dog control bylaws.
DOG RESTRICTIONS: Current TCDC bylaws clearly state that between the Saturday of Labour Weekend and 1 March dogs are banned at the Wharekawa and Ohui ends of Opoutere beach, check the maps in the carpark for the exact areas.
From mid-December to early February dogs are banned on the entire beach between 9am and 4pm.As mentioned above – to talk to the Animal Control team call 07 868 0200 and you will be put through to them.
From the TCDC website:
“Dogs are banned from the following beaches at all times between the Saturday of Labour weekend and 1 March:
Opoutere Beach – Ohui end and Wharekawa end
South Whangamata from beach access 18 to beach access 20
Onemana Beach south of the Rock Island near the waterfall
Dogs are banned on the following beaches and their associated reserves between 9am and 7pm from December 15 to February 8 and between 9am to 4pm on other holiday weekends.
THE WORLD FAMOUS OPOUTERE REGATTA: Come to Bruce’s Bay (just by the 25km bend in the middle of the village) at 1.30pm on Saturday January 2nd for the 2016 Opoutere Regatta. There will be swimming and kayaking races for young and old, followed by prize giving and a bbq on the Michael King Reserve at 4.30pm. Bring cash for the bbq which helps our local rural fire team.
You may find one of these colourful flyers in your letterbox!
OPOUTERE RATEPAYERS AND RESIDENTS AGM 2016: Saturday January 2, 9.30am, Opoutere School. Please note the earlier time which accommodates the Opoutere Regatta which is scheduled for that afternoon.
Have a wonderful summer holiday everyone!
WEEDBUSTING WORKING BEE, Saturday 24th October 1pm
What better way to mark Labour Weekend than with a Weedbusting Working Bee! Chris Woudenberg has sent out his call to arms, so grab some hand tools and safety gear and join us in the bush below the North East side of the Maungaruawahine summit. We are still tackling the awful elaeagnus that is thriving in the native bush, it’s thorny stuff and you will need long sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your skin.
Saturday 24th October
1pm til mid-late afternoon, any help for any length of time will still make a difference.
Park in the cemetery paddock 300m past the Youth Hostel, Chris will have his car parked in there so look out for him. From there follow the yellow rope up into the bush, listen out for the roaring of chainsaws!
What to bring:
Nice to have but not so important
Tools if you have them, don’t worry – we also have spares
Please do try to come along for a little while, it’s a huge job but we are making visible progress (have a look from the carpark bridge) and our native bush can now regenerate and provide food for all the birdlife.
See you there!
Our dotterels have paired up and are well into their nesting season.
Please keep yourself and dogs well away from any nesting sites, especially when there are signs and roped off areas visible, the nests are so vulnerable when the parents are scared off them.
Here is the latest from our wonderful dotterel ranger Frouk Miller (contact details: ph 027 285 6519, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
I can’t believe 6 weeks have flown by already. It’s been a hectic and somewhat stressful 6 weeks for me trying to get familiar with all the beaches, find out the nesting places of our wonderful birds and trying to meet and get to know a few of you.
One thing is for sure…I cannot say enough how valuable our minders are and what a fantastic job you all do out there. I’m truly overwhelmed by your input and efforts.
We’ve had plenty of action in some areas, and birds taking their time in others. Simpson’s Beach went off like a rocket and we’ve had 7 pairs nesting there. About 11 chicks have hatched but we have lost around 4. Lots of trapping in place and trying to do what we can to keep them safe. Another 3 chicks have hatched at Pauanui and to date they’re growing well. We’ve lost a fair few eggs from nests and pairs looking very forlorn on the beaches, but also lots of eggs in nests waiting for D-day.
Within the next week or two we have a number of clutches due to hatch. I have found that the Black-backed gulls are one of my biggest problems. I try not to disturb nesting Dotterels especially when these gulls are hovering. I witnessed one swoop down on a nest and take it’s only egg!! We’ve caught a few feral cats and minders are reporting good trapping numbers on stoats and hedgehogs…keep up the great work!
With Labour Weekend upon us this weekend I hope we are able to keep some control over dogs and people on beaches near fenced Dotterel sites. If there are any concerns please let me know. It’s also the start to a week of spring tides…26th October to 2nd November. Again, let me know of any concerns you have regarding possible nest difficulties near high tide.
It’s been a pleasure meeting the people I have, we’ve even recruited a few new minders. Although extremely stressful at times and long days trying to get around all the beaches, I have truly fallen in love with these devoted and brave little birds. They have definitely got the better of me most of the time with their dramatic displays and aloof attitudes.
Lisa Kearney is now also on board and will be looking after Otama, Opito and all beaches north of Coromandel township for now. A grateful welcome Lisa!
I hope you manage a restful Labour Weekend yourselves and with thanks I also say ‘keep up the great work’.
Cheers for now
FROM CIVIL DEFENCE WAIKATO Facebook page, as at 12.15 Thursday 17 September
Ok, so we have a tsunami THREAT issued for Coromandel. This is just a THREAT (this means that you all can still chill out because it just means we are going to keep an eye on it).
BUT you can do some things to make life easier for everyone:
– Stay away from sea, rivers and estuaries (don’t be an egg and go sightseeing…that’s just DUMB)
– Keep an eye on our page, NZ Get Thru and TV radio etc
– Tell your friends and whanau on the east coastline
– If your local Civil Defence gives instructions, please just do it (they want you to be safe).
The THREAT is in force until the big cheese at the Ministry of Civil Defence says its over.
We will keep updating our page when new info comes in.
Since the 1990’s undergraduate students from the University of New Hampshire have visited Aotearoa to study with the EcoQuest Education Foundation. Part of this study involves a field trip to Opoutere where the students engage with our environment not just in a learning capacity but in a directly beneficial way. Next week’s visit coincides with “Keep NZ Beautiful” week and the EcoQuest team will be conducting clean ups as they are visiting various locations around Opoutere.
Ric Balfour, a lecturer at the EcoQuest Education Foundation would like to formally introduce his team and what they do when they are in Opoutere:
“Field studies for EcoQuest students in and around the Wharekawa estuary
The EcoQuest Education Foundation is a Private Training Establishment and a Registered Charitable Trust, based in Whakatiwai on the Kaiaua Coast. The Vision of the Foundation is: “Catalysts for sustainability through education and research”. EcoQuest has a long-standing partnership with the University of New Hampshire, and provides semester and summer programs for undergraduate students from the US. Current programs are focused on applied field studies (ecology, restoration and environmental policy) and research (www.ecoquest.unh.edu ; https://www.facebook.com/pages/EcoQuest-Education-Foundation ). Semester students are in Aotearoa for 15 weeks.
During the mid-late 90’s, one of the EcoQuest co-founders (through personal friends in Opoutere) got involved with the ORRA and represented the ORRA at resource consent hearings and the Environment Court on several occasions. EcoQuest recognises the special nature of the Wharekawa estuary, and the unique challenges that Opoutere residents and ratepayers face in maintaining their environment while catering for the needs of people and wildlife. Opoutere is very much a second home for the EcoQuest team: we have brought students to Opoutere twice a year since 1999! Over the years, people from Opoutere have always extended a warm welcome to EcoQuest, and we have learnt a lot from the residents and ratepayers – who have always been generous with their time and energy toward us. We spend four days in Opoutere, based at the YHA, studying estuarine ecology, and investigating challenges related to managing natural resources for multiple uses. The field work focuses on various aspects: the estuary and associated wetlands, and effects of landuse in the catchment on the estuary and its biota. Once a year (February) we carry out a shellfish survey as part of the Hauraki Gulf shellfish monitoring programme. During our field trip in September of this year, we will be out in the estuary, kayaking (and on foot at low tide), in order to:
– learn about the ecology of estuarine wetlands and associated habitats
– carry out a vegetation mapping exercise (estuarine vegetation communities)
– interpret the environment at a landscape level
– carry out field investigations in order to gain an understanding of resource management for multiple uses (residential, recreational, wildlife protection and primary industry)
– Learn about the role of the RMA related to development in the coastal zone
Through practical field work our students learn how to investigate and assess biophysical patterns and processes. During this week, students also have a chance to investigate related topics; they work in small teams and we conclude the week with peer- teaching sessions in the Opoutere Hall.
Since it is officially “Keep NZ Beautiful” week (http://www.knzb.org.nz/ ), EcoQuest will be going the extra distance to help clean up areas in which we are studying and working. Service learning and engaging with community are important parts of the experiences of our students while they study with us in New Zealand. We are often involved in planting days (some of the pohutukawa by the Kapakapa stream were planted by EcoQuest students more than 10 years ago), releasing seedlings, or with monitoring activities. All our research projects have scientific and societal relevance, and help to improve our understanding of natural resources, restoration activities and how science and policy interact.
Ric Balfour is one of several faculty at EcoQuest, and he and three other staff will accompany the EcoQuest team this week (Sep 15-18). If you want to know more about EcoQuest, you can contact Ric (email@example.com ) or the EcoQuest Director Jono Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org ).”
Say hi to the team if you see them around, we are honoured to have them keeping an eye on our precious neighbourhood.
The Wharekawa Catchment Care Group has invited the community to attend the first planting of the Kapa Kapa Wetland Restoration Project on Wednesday 9th September (postponement day Wednesday 16th September)
10am – 1pm.
Come along to the southern entrance near Kapa Kapa bridge, parking can be found along Kapa Kapa Rd.
Bring a spade and a mug, gumboots and a waterproof jacket.
Refreshments will be provided – tea/coffee, hot soup, sausages and bread.
Opoutere has been visited by several seals during the last month, there have been varying reports of 5 different animals, both young and old. Then there was the sad news that one of these lovely animals had died on the stretch of Opoutere beach north of the yellow bench entrance. Happily there is still a very alert and active seal further along the beach.
Kevin Carter, Department Of Conservation Ranger, has issued a warning that one of these seals appears to be a juvenile leopard seal in moult and should not be approached as these seals can be more aggressive than fur seals. Please do not try to get close to any seal you may come across, if you have concerns about their welfare or health please contact Kevin on 07 867 9241.
Special thanks to Amelia Williams who has been in contact with DOC staff and has kept ORRA informed of these developments. Thanks also to Val Herbert for her photos and updates.
The Wharekawa estuary is hosting a very charming visitor at the moment. Over the last week or so locals have enjoyed watching a sleek black sealion swimming about, feeding on kahawai, playing and sunbathing. Our guest can be seen at low tide herding fish into the shallows and then proceeding to play with his/her food, often near the boat ramp or Bruce’s Bay. This process involves much thrashing around, playing with the fish and then a lusty feasting – the seagulls are beneficiaries of this and can be seen whirling about overhead as the fish is messily consumed. Sometimes the sealion cruises up and down the estuary with one fin regally waving in the air until such time as it is necessary to roll about or have a comprehensive scratching session. If the day is fine sunbathing can be achieved on the boat ramp or at the bottom of Wharekawa Place.
Keep your eyes peeled!