And so it has happened. After more than a year of sorting through building consents and engineering requirements, no more wet toes, ankles … thighs …
The bridge over the Rameka Creek to Great Expectations has been built!
The actual building only took nine days. But those were nine totally full-on days.
Many more people were involved than are shown in this selection of photos. And to everyone who helped out – many, many thanks and big thumbs up to all of you.
So, here’s a taste of the action that took place over the week:
First up was measuring out exactly where the bridge needed to go …
Then it was a case of digging ….
And pumping …
And digging – did we mention digging?
Measuring, sorting and sawing timber …
But there was still a bit of time to stand back and assess exactly what it was we were doing.
And then it was time for the concrete to be poured for the foundations.
Then first the piles and later the beams were lifted into place …
And after that, it was a case of all hands on deck as volunteers came flocking to help hammer, saw, measure, grease, measure, saw, and measure again, bolt, hammer, dig … all the usual things one does to put a bridge in place.
In the first week of November 2015, Jonathan, Bronnie and Simon Johnson headed down to Rameka with this year’s American interns from the HECUA New Zealand programme – Olivia Thorp and Hardt Bergmann. The agenda was to:
release the trees planted in August
take part in the DOC Conservation Week trapping workshop
tidy up a couple of unrideable corners on The Odyssey
clean up Great Expectations.
And time was built in to show our US visitors the highlights of the Bay.
This was the first time Olivia and Hardt had been to New Zealand and probably the first time they’d spent any time taking care of a forest restoration project. We asked them to share their thoughts:
Hardt and I spent seven tiring but adventurous days in Rameka Carbon Forest with Jonathan Kennett, Bronwen Wall, and Simon Johnson. On Saturday, we packed ourselves along with a week’s worth of supplies, tools, and traps into Jonathan’s tiny Ford Mondeo and made our way up to the Lorax Lair at the top of the hill.
We quickly grew to love this place and its quirky features, especially the wood-fired bathtub on the edge of the hill. Built by locals who often visit the lair, it was a great way to unwind after a hard day’s work!
Our first full day out we participated in a trapping workshop run by DOC, along with many other locals from the Golden Bay area to discuss pest control, particularly of possums, rats, and stoats.
After the workshop, about 15 volunteers headed up to clear 150m of the severely overgrown original historic Rameka Track. This track was built in the 1890s as an access route between Takaka and Tasman Bay. Once the main road was built, the pack track was pretty much abandoned, sections fell into disrepair and over time disappeared beneath plant growth. We aimed to change that!
We spent the next several days setting up traps for possums in hopes of helping the native flora and fauna to flourish.
When we weren’t setting up traps, we were weeding around the native trees Bronnie, Jonathan, Simon, and others had planted the year before or working on the Odyssey and Great Expectations tracks, the two mountain bike tracks that run through Rameka. This work involved clearing overgrown trees and tidying up a particularly rough switchback to make it more rideable.
It was a week full of spectacular views, heaps of learning and hard but rewarding work.
By August, the necessary funding had been secured and negotiations were well down the track for purchasing the land to add to the Rameka carbon forest. Yeeha! It was time to show everyone what their contributions were going towards.
Jonathan hired a bus and accommodation at a backpackers in Takaka township for a week of exploration and celebration – and the contributors responded in kind. From Christchurch, Mapua, Wellington and Masterton, for one night to seven days, the size of the group ebbed and flowed as work commitments allowed.
We started by meeting in Mapua to help the locals plant a roadside reserve, then after fish and chips at the wharf (in brilliant sunshine of course! What else could you expect from a visit to Mapua?), we continued over the hill for our first sighting of the new-look Rameka.
The next day, Sunday, was totally committed to the land. We planted and explored both the new block and the existing Rameka.
The start of the working week meant that many of the troops had to say goodbye and return to their working lives, but they were replaced by others! Over the rest of the week, we planted more trees – concentrating on rata from Project Crimson this time, worked with neighbours to put in a new waterpipe and cleared some of the historic Rameka pack track on the new block of land.
And there was even time for exploring the further reaches of the Bay.