Kapiti Observer : May 12th 2011
35 THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011 TRAVEL og lao DOUG & JAN PALME #1 Paraparaumu's 2010-201 LICENSED AGENT REAA 2008 TEAM MKH LTD Doug & Jan Palmer Harcourts Paraparaumu p: 04 902 9612 www.dougpalmer.co.nz Congratulations Tropical delight -- with volcanoes Orange trees in the forest, parakeets as if you were in an open plan aviary, turtles basking in the warm ocean, French place names -- yet this is New Zealand. Derek Lightbourne takes us to the Kermadec Islands. Exploring: Derek Lightbourne, aboard the Spirit of Enderby, passing L'Esperance Rock, the southernmost island of the Kermadecs. Wildlife: The Kermadec Island red- crowned parrakeet. Hidden path: Tour members navigate a Raoul Island walking track amongst the destruction caused by tropical cyclone Bune. About 700 kilometres from the mainland, and half- way to Tonga, lies the very north edge of New Zealand terri- tory. The Kermadec Islands are on the same latitude as Norfolk Island with a sub-tropical climate. They are a chain of small volcanic outcrops, subject to tropical cyclones, regular earthquakes and the occasional volcanic outburst. Raoul is the largest and most well-known, with an area one- and-a-half times larger than Kapiti Island. Here a small staff of Depart- ment of Conservation (DOC) workers keep daily weather readings, tackle some of the noxious, introduced weeds, and welcome the occasional yacht or naval vessel bringing supplies and fresh personnel. Tourist ships are rare as there's no easy landing place. Prior per- mission to land has to be sought from DOC. I recently travelled to these islands in the Spirit of Enderby, with 50 visitors to spend four days at Raoul Island. On two days it was possible to land in small zodiac rubber dinghies, allowing time to explore some of the island, recently ravaged by tropical cyclone Bune. In the 10 days before arrival, the DOC staff had worked furi- ously to clear tracks blocked by pohutukawa branches and fallen nikau palms. It was possible to look across to the still active crater lake which erupted in 2006, killing DOC staffer Mark Kearney. The islands are part of the Kermadec Arc, an active seismo- logical ridge consisting of islands some of which rise 8km from the depths of the Kermadec Trench. In Denham Bay on Raoul there are some small more recent vol- canic seamounts dangerous to shipping as they lie mostly just below sea level. Polynesian explorers came by Raoul and some relics have been found. Most notable among those who have lived on the island is the Bell family. They arrived late in the 19th century and eked out a life over 30 years. In this time there were cyclones, earthquakes, a rat epidemic, and thieves who ransacked their hut when the family was on the other side of the island. This sojourn led to writer Elsie Morton recording their privations in Crusoes of Sunday Island -- Sunday Island was an early name for Raoul. Rats and goats proliferated, but both have now been eradicated. Tui are common, but there were fatalities in the recent cyclone. The Kermadec red-crowned para- keet (kakariki) could be described as tame, and are curious about human visitors. Pukeko and swallows live on the island, along with a variety of seabirds which circle the small islands off Raoul. They include the world's largest breeding populations of some petrels. After pests were eradicated in 2002, plant life has thrived and could be described as a botanist's heaven. In a relatively short time, those on this trip found some 67 of the 121 species of plants known to grow on the island. Elsie Morton summed up the island: When one accepts its eccentricities of earthquake, vol- canic outburst, landslide, hurri- cane and rats, Sunday Island was a peaceful and idyllic spot.'' Derek Lightbourne is available to give talks. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 232 2245.
May 16th 2011