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Conservation Volunteers Finish Up the Walking Track—March 5-9, 2012

March 10, 2012

Another great group of Conservation Volunteers spent a week at CUE Haven and finished off the walking track that we started back in October 2011.  The team was made up of Maki and Moeko from Japan, Tiark and Ralph from Germany, Luke from the US and Gil from Belgium.  The team was led by John Busson of CVNZ.

The group arrived on Monday morning and after a short orientation and lunch, went to work.  The first project was to finish off the last of the steps at the very end of the track.  First they had to carry the materials and tools to the site:

John then gave a demonstration on how to position and secure the timber boxing for the steps.

The team finished that project and created a truly impressive set of steps:

In order to make the track suitable for all-weather use, it is necessary to surface it with metal (gravel) which will make it safe for walking even during the wet winter months.  Because of the length of the track and because it traverses such difficult terrain, we can’t use machines or even wheel barrows.  As a result, the metal has to be brought in one bucketful at a time.   The team spent a morning finishing off the steps with loads of metal.

The team also spent some time doing what has become a very important job at CUE Haven.  John took the team into the mature bush areas of the property and they harvested seeds for planting in the nursery.  The trees that grow from these seeds will be part of future tree plantings.

It was a good opportunity for the volunteers to learn about native New Zealand trees and they collected a nice supply of flax, manuka, nikau, kauri, kahikatea and karaka seeds.

The next day, the team undertook a very different project.  We have recently acquired a small vehicle which we will use this winter for delivering trees up to the planting sites and we wanted to put up a shade cloth to give it some protection from the elements.  We decided to attach the shade cloth to the back of the nursery, where we have a road that isn’t used very often.  It is out of sight and would be a nice quiet place to keep the truck.

The challenge was coming up with a framework that would support the shade cloth.  Across the road there was an old fence, and the ground falls away quite steeply.  We found some unusually long fence posts and decided to use them as the supports.

The first task was to remove a section of the old fence.

Once the fence was out of the way, the hard part was then digging deep holes for the posts.

Once the holes were dug, the posts were cemented in place—but only after they were perfectly aligned.

And creatively supported while the cement dried.

After a hard day’s work, Ralph and Gil took time to make friends with the neighbour’s cow:

The concrete holding in the posts was allowed to dry overnight and the next day we attached the shade cloth.  The team took turns nailing in the horizontal support beams:

And the last step was to secure the shade cloth:

We now have a shelter for the farm truck!

The group spent the rest of the week doing another very important but difficult task.  This has been an unusually wet summer and we had heavy rains for most of Thursday.  One of the benefits of all the rain is that it has given us an idea about how the walking track will drain during the wet winter months.  As a result, on Friday, the team worked on reinforcing some of the steps that may be prone to damage from heavy rains.

The project involved cutting bits of wood to the right size and assembling them like a puzzle in the field.

It was challenging work, and it was made especially difficult because the drainage in the area meant that the track and work area were very muddy. Nevertheless the team did a great job.

We really enjoyed working with this team.  They were energetic and enthusiastic and got a lot done, even though the week was shortened by a rainy day.  We want to thank the entire group for all their hard work and we look forward to having you come back to CUE Haven to have a relaxing walk on the track you have helped build and also to see how the revegetation project is coming along.

We also want to especially thank John Busson of CVNZ.  He has led each of the teams that have worked on the track this summer and has made invaluable contributions to the quality of the track, from a construction as well as an aesthetic perspective.  Thanks for all your hard work and help!

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