Date: Tuesday, 01 February 2005
Posted by: Coal Island
Tags: Tracks

In February 2005, a team of 16 volunteers spent 5 days cutting tracks on Coal Island. The cutting of the tracks which had been marked out by Kisbee Lodge caretaker Johan Groters during the winter of 2004, was the next step in preparation for the eradication of introduced pests from the island.

There are many historical sites from the goldmining of the 1890’s on the island. To ensure these would not be damaged by the new tracks, an archeologist inspected the alignment of the tracks prior to the cutting work getting under way. Some minor changes were made upon his recommendation to avoid sensitive areas.

Because of the rugged nature of much of the coastline, a helicopter was used to transport volunteers to the western side of the island where a helipad was cut as one of the first tasks undertaken. Boat access was possible at the eastern end of the island at Moonlight Point and mid-way along the shore on Otago Retreat.

Apart from scrub on the western and northern coasts, most of the island is covered in a mixture mature podocarp (mainly rimu and miro) and rata. The understory is surprisingly open – mostly ferns. The track cutting gangs were usually organized in teams of 3 – one bushman with a chainsaw, another with a scrub-bar and a third person to follow-up, clearing debris off the track and carry fuel and oil.

The volunteers were based at Kisbee Lodge which is located 4km east of Moonlight Point. The Lodge is the perfect venue with ample accommodation, large kitchen, lounge and dining areas.

In all, 15km of tracks were cut during the week. A perimeter track parallel to the coast between 200 and 500m inland and a track starting at Moonlight Point and running west across the island to meet the perimeter track at the helipad.

A site was cleared on the terrace above Moonlight Point for a Portacom donated by Arrow International. This will provide storage for gear and emergency shelter for personnel working on the island in the future.