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Monday, 31 August 2009

That elusive Fence Post

We received a really strange e-mail last week. The subject line said “Ever wondered what happened to your fence post?”. It looked rather like a spam e-mail to me and I was all set to delete it. As it turned out, the message was from the Karori Sanctuary. We are founder members of the Karori Sanctuary and when the time came for a predator proof fence to be erected to enclose the land, we sponspered one of the many fence posts in the construction. The sanctuary comprises 225 hectares of regenerating lowland forest and wetlands protected by a unique 8.6 km predator-proof fence, specially designed to exclude non-native mammals ranging from hedgehogs to possums. The fence is made of a tight wire weave mesh, with a curved top, wire mesh wall and underground mesh skirt, which has proved to be an effective barrier to all burrowing animals. The Sanctuary is the most accessible of New Zealand’s celebrated mainland conservation islands and is a safe haven for some of our most iconic and endangered native animals, including tuatara, little spotted kiwi, saddleback, hihi and giant weta. At just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand, this little piece of paradise is just delightful. There is a huge new Visitors Centre under construction, due to be completed next year.



Last weekend was the opportunity to find out exactly where our very own fence post was. So we turned up shod in our sturdy walking shoes,with Robin carrying a back-pack containing our parkas in case of showers, a drink bottle and lunch box. We thought that our fence post number was the same as our membership number, but that is not the case, we were told. The friendly volunteer lady wrote our fence post number down on the map, advised us which of the many tracks would take us to the closest point of the fence line to our post, and sent us on our way. The Valley View Track was quite steep to start, and it wasn’t long before we were puffing and panting. Then we came across the fence line and followed this ever upwards, checking the numbers as we went. We were looking for 689 and before too long there it was. But what’s this? That plaque on the post doesn’t belong to us, it has someone else’s name on it. We checked the numbers all around just in case but there was still no sign of our own post. Out comes the trusty cell phone and Robin rings down to the Sanctuary to tell them of our problem. “We’ll get back to you”, was the reply. There was only one thing for it, we decided. We would walk the fence line until we came to our membership number, checking each and every post as we went. It was a long hard slog as we climbed higher and higher up the hill. Then at last, “I’ve found it”, called Robin. There at last was the fence post bearing the plaque with our names on it. It had the same number as our membership number, as we had thought. Out came the cameras to photograph our elusive fence post.


We walked down the rather steep Pylon Track, meeting up with the Fantail Track. We were thrilled to hear the call of the Saddleback, and were rewarded for our patience when two of these black and tan endangered birds appeared in the trees by the track. Moving on to the Beech Track we came across the new Suspension Bridge, at 43 metres long it gives a good view of the surrounding forest.



Moving down towards the valley floor we came across what appeared to be a cage. This was in fact a feeding station for the hihi and bellbirds. Their nectar diet is supplemented at these feeding stations. As we watched, a hihi (stitchbird) appeared, hopped through the mesh cage and sipped at sugar water before flying away again.

P8293497 Hihi sipping on the sugar-water

At last we reached the information centre and approached the volunteers who were helping with the fence post discovery, and told them the trouble we had experienced. We were then told that the posts were numbered on the outside of the fence so that the numbers can be seen by the fence walkers who regularly check the fence line for damage. That wasn’t much good to us or anyone else for that matter, who were walking along the inside perimeter trying to find their number. All this walking up and down hills really ensured we slept like logs that night, in fact, we were so tired we needed an extra early night to recover!!

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