Volunteer Thank You Day at Waitawa 2013

The Hunua Ranges is just one of Auckland's Regional Parks wonderful assets. And in this day of tightened budgets and the need to protect the environments and creatures within the parks, the role of the volunteer workforce takes on even more importance.

And so every year the Rangers of Southern Regional Parks put on a day of food and activity as a thanks to those volunteers who have given their time and energy over the year.

2013 was special in that volunteers got a sneak preview of work on the yet-to-be-opened Waitawa Regional Park which is due to open in March 2014.  And of course, Friends of Hunua Ranges was there!

The Waitawa Bay beach was a hive of activity for the 2013 Southern Regional Parks Volunteers' Thank You Day. Click here for a larger version of this image

Long time coordinator Ranger Mags Ramsey (Duder Regional Park) was busy organising for weeks and even cooking up until 1am the preceeding evening!  The result: attendees were treated to a feast that included her specialty: the Ramsey Spinach & Feta Pie.  Add to that a healthy salad, fruit juices, rolls, sushi and scrummy desert and the volunteers certainly felt rewarded.

But it wasn't all just about eating - the crew had arranged a plethora of activities for the 90+ volunteers to enjoy.  There were walks, kayaking in the bay, a mountain bike tour of some of the tracks that had already been cut out, frisbee golf and just enjoying the view.

Mountain Biking

Whilst the MTB tracks were pretty raw, track designer and Friend of Hunua Ranges Gabb took a group of riders on a one hour ride to see what had been done and explain what was being planned. And for those without bikes, no problem - thanks to Kris Bartley of Bigfoot Adventures there were plenty of bikes in pristine condition for people to try.  The ride culminated in a knuckle clenching descent on what will be one of the main feature tracks of the park - the Old School Party Groove.

Frisbee Golf

Another cool activity that will be offered to visitors of Waitawa Regional Park is Frisbee Golf (or Disc Golf as it is officially called). Simon Feasey of the New Zealand Disc Golf Association (and many time New Zealand champion, even a World Champion in 2010) and his trusty helper Lance, a new arrival to Auckland from Canada, ensured that everyone got to see what it was all about, arranging a fun little course and a putting competition at the beach which proved very popular. Some even walked away with prizes!  Thanks to Simon and Lance for this. The official course is still being set up and will provide a fun challenge for beginners and avid disc golfers alike thanks to multiple tee locations. You can find out all about disc golf at www.discgolf.co.nz.

The Disc Golf Putting Competition showed people how quickly one can become accurate with a frisbee. Click here for a larger version of this image


Thanks to Nick Mead from Auckland Sea Kayaks, people could also enjoy a sea kayak paddle around the bay.  Waitawa Regional Park also features a campground as part of the exciting Sea Kayak Trail of the Hauraki Gulf - one part of the park that is currently open.
Opened in Tawhitokino Regioinal Park on April 5th 2013 by Auckland Mayor Len Brown, this is Auckland Council's first multi-day kayak trail.  Called Te Ara Moana – the seagoing pathway, takes kayakers from Omana Regional Park near Maraetai to Waharau Regional Park in the foothills of the Hunua Ranges near Kaiaua with camping options at purpose-built campgrounds along the way.

Thank You and a Brief History

Principal Ranger for Southern Sector Tony Oliver

Towards the end of the day, the volunteers were somewhat humbled by the heart-felt words of thanks by the Rangers who expressed their thanks for the help.  The Rangers of Auckland's Regional Parks are a highly dedicated lot and this type of pat on the back for the volunteers certainly made everyone feel part of one big family - a family that is making some very positive changes to our parks both for current and for the future Aucklanders and visitors to this fine city.
Everyone also learnt some very interesting history about Waitawa Regional Park from Principal Ranger for Southern Sector Tony Oliver who shared his knowledge of facts both past and present about the area that has us all excited about the Opening Day in March of 2014.

Our supporters
  • Auckland MTB Club
  • AristCake
  • Big Foot Adventures
  • Jet iT
  • Auckland Council
  • Kokako Recovery Project
  • Jet Park Airport Hotel