One tough trip

The Code Red storm made just getting to Rameka a challenge. Roads were closed, flights were cancelled, and the ground floor of the bach we had booked was flooded.

To get to Rameka, we had to walk 5 km each way, and on the first day, we saw the extent of the damage. One huge slip had taken out four bridges, closing Great Expectations and washing hundreds of trees away. Another slip had closed The Odyssey.

Huge slip across a road through poplar trees.
The most visible slip, and the one that blocked the road for us and the locals

Last Sunday, we held a work party, but it was really hard to know what to do. The damage to Great Expectations was so severe, with a new gulch having been formed, and a muddy sludge dumped along the sides. At least the historic Rameka Track was in remarkably good condition.

Six men clearing debris from a slip down a stream
The hardy group of locals trying their best to salvage a stream crossing devastated by the slip

It wasn’t until the third day that our fortunes turned and spirits began to lift. We carried 200 trees up and planted them in fine weather. On the same day, Ricky Ward managed, somehow, to drive another 800 trees up to the project via a private farm track. We were making real progress.

Four people digging holes for trees in bracken
The bracken of today will be a forest in 20 years!

We kept chipping away, planting one or two hundred trees a day. And Fulton Hogan were also busy repairing the road. Finally, on our last day (Saturday) the road was open, and just in time for our final big work party.

Twenty-two people turned up and the last 450 out of 1,000 trees were planted and guarded. A big thanks to Alison, Grant, Bob, Chris, Suzy, Mike, Andrew, Bevan, Duncan (Mountford) Glenda, Mark, Maryann, Will and Kerry.

People planting trees on a steep hillside
A sunny Saturday for planting the final 450. Hoorah!

Also a special thanks to Paul Kilgour who put heaps of effort into planting and guarding trees over the week, even staying at Rameka two nights.

And most of all, the crew who took a week off work and returned home, tired, fit and happy today: Nicola and Richard, Geoff, Justine and Duncan and Bronnie and Jonathan.

Six tree planters smiling on a track.
It was all smiles once we got cracking!

One of the observations Jonathan had at the end of the week was this. By restoring the land over time, the land has begun restoring us.

Three people standing/sitting at a lookout.
Gathering our breathes at Martin’s lookout.

Hut, Forest, Planet

“As kids we were bought up to leave a place better than when we arrived.” says Brett.

Whether it be tidying a tramping hut, filling a wood shed or picking up rubbish on a beach, it’s an outdoors etiquette that most Kiwis follow. That’s partly why New Zealand is such a beautiful country.

“Now we’re looking at the big picture,” Brett says. “To leave the world a better place.”

So it’s natural that Brett Whiteley and Helen Spring would turn their attention to climate change, because the climate has such an impact on the outdoors they love, particularly the snowy mountains and glaciers, our coastlines and rivers.

“The bush is a peaceful place where other worries sort of go away. So we want to support a local project,” explains Brett, “to give back to something local.”

Brett and Helen often mountain bike through Project Rameka to Takaka in Golden Bay. The forest there is owned by a charitable trust for the purpose of growing trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And it now has three popular tracks through it that were built by volunteers.

But the trust recognised that the forest offered even more potential. It entered the forest into the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI). As part of the deal, the trust has agreed with the government to grow trees to absorb carbon dioxide and never log the forest. In return, the government gives the trust carbon credits, which it can sell.

The charitable trust sometimes sells carbon credits to people like Brett and Helen so that they can offset their carbon footprint. Here’s how it works.

Brett went to an online carbon calculator and worked out his carbon footprint for the last year. “It was really simple to do. Once I found the calculator, it only took half an hour.”

Their footprint was only 8 tonnes, which is pretty good.

Then Brett approached Jonathan from Rameka Charitable Trust to cancel 8 tonnes of carbon credits, which cost $200 ($25/tonne).

That then meant that Brett and Helen were carbon neutral for the year. Awesome!
But it gets even better than that.

The charitable trust doesn’t have any management costs (and the government doesn’t charge any kind of tax on the transaction as it wants to encourage New Zealand to meet its international climate agreement targets).

So the trust puts all income from carbon credit sales back into the project. 100% of Brett and Helen’s $200 will be used to enhance the forest at Rameka by looking after trees and controlling pests.

But Brett and Helen went even further. They decided that they wanted something tangible to show for their efforts to ‘give back’. So they decided that they would buy a tree for every report written for Brett’s business (West Wind Projects). That equates to around 100 extra trees a year planted at Rameka.

The end result is that Brett and Helen are no longer part of the climate change problem; they are part of the solution. And the forest at Rameka will be bigger and better every time they ride through it.

Thanks to for supporting the environment.

Brett and Helen and a friend riding the Tour Aotearoa in Northland.

Biodiversity Booms at Rameka

January 2017

Rata was in flower for the first time at Rameka in a very, very long time (probably since the forest was burnt off in the 1970s).

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This rata was planted in 2009. Many thanks to Project Crimson for the hundreds of rata planted at Rameka over the last ten years.

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There were two bellbirds feeding from flax that we planted in 2011.

Rameka International Vistors Week

November 2016

Just wrapped up a brilliant week at Project Rameka. Great people, and lots done.

After heavy rain we cut back all vegetation hanging over Great Expectations and The Odyssey, as well as digging out a lot of the ruts. The other change that people will notice is that we painted 10 new signs and installed them.

We then refurbished 12 stoat traps that DOC kindly donated, and built boxes for 10 new traps to go along the Rameka valley. The final job was to monitor and release the trees planted last August. The weeds and trees are growing like crazy this spring!

And finally, thanks to the magic of photosynthesis, the trees at Rameka sequestered 26 tonnes of carbon dioxide during the week we were there.

Charlotte test riding Great Expectations. From this we wrote a Track Prescription outlining 20 difficult spots to work on.

Ignacio installed one of the new hand painted signs at the top of Project Rameka Inc. We painted and installed signs at every track entrance and fork at Rameka.

Ignacio dug out 8 wheelbarrow loads of soil from under the ‘limbo trunk’ to provide enough room for tall riders.

Andy, Simon, Charlotte, Martin, Bronnie, Ignacio, Jonathan and Marie, having a lunch break on Great Expectations. Awesome progress made to this point in only 2 hours!

Perrine and Jonathan attempt to cross the Rameka Creek, but had to back out. The strong flow was just about to take them down. This is where the new bridge will be built.

Charlotte, Bronnie, Perrine, Ignacio and Jim refurbishing DOC200 stoat traps to place on the historic Rameka Track.

Albie and Ignacio modifying old trap boxes to fit new trap mechanisms. Ten of these were then installed along the Rameka Creek Valley by Paul Kilgour who has since caught stoats and rats.

Dinner time at Rameka, Catalonia style.


November Action Stations!

Next month will be a busy time at Project Rameka. Come and join us if you can spare the time!

Test and Tickle

On Sunday 13 November we will be holding a ‘Test and Tickle Up’ work party on Great Expectations. The goal is to identify the spots that are currently unrideable for Grade 2 riders and fix them.

So if you are a Grade 2 rider, please come along and test the track for us, then help us make it work for you!

Meet at the top of Great Expectations, at 10am on Sunday.

We will have some tools, and some food for a picnic lunch.

Where the Hell are We?

During the week of the 14-18th November, Marie and Bronnie will be working with US interns Jane and Charlotte to paint new signs – one for every track intersection in the project. These will be popping up to help visitors know where they are heading.

To the Scrub Face

On Wednesday afternoon, 16th November, Jonathan and Martin will be leading a work party to uncover more of the historic Rameka Track. We will meet at the Totara Carpark at 1pm, and head up the escarpment to the Scrub Face. It’s a fair walk in now, and the views are impressive.

The Odyssey

We are also on the lookout for a couple of Trail Pixies to give some TLC to The Odyssey. It shouldn’t take much – just a bit of vege trimming, and perhaps removing the odd rut here and there. If you are able to spare the time, please contact Jonathan ( or Martin at the Quiet Revolution Cycle Shop.

Suck it Up

A heartfelt salute to all those that planted trees last August (and previous years). They are growing incredibly well, and sucking up carbon dioxide in the process. Just a reminder that Good S@#T Happens when good people make it happen.


Pedal On!

Jonathan Kennett

P.S. Thanks to all the people who have been beavering away on the tracks over the last few months!