A jewel of New Zealand’s North Island, the Hauraki Gulf is known for its incredible natural beauty. And unique biodiversity.
Cruising through its crystal waters, you’re likely to spy hundreds of seabirds skimming the seas, countless fish and, if you’re really lucky, a pod of dolphins or migrating whales! At least, you should do…
Hauraki’s uncertain future
With Auckland’s population set to double between 2010 and 2020, Hauraki’s exceptional island ecosystem has become increasingly vulnerable.
Some of the gulf’s larger islands closer to the mainland have already fallen victim to horrifying ecological damage. Damage that threatens the entire gulf’s unique island habitats. And the hundreds of species that call them home.
It’s a threat the Neureuter family, owners and custodians of The Noises Islands, know well.
Siblings Sue, Rod and Zoe have been coming to The Noises since before they could walk. They know every inch of rugged coastline, every sandy beach, every rocky cove.
“The sound of the gulls… each year it’s less and less.” – Sharon Neureuter
And over the years they’ve witnessed first-hand the decline of plant and animal life here. “The crayfish used to be crawling over each other,” Rod told the NZ Herald last year. “Now there’s just a massive kina barren, because the crays are gone.”
“The sad thing is each year we witness the decline,” adds Rod’s wife Sharon. “The sound of the gulls… that’s my favourite sound… but each year it’s less and less.”
We’ve already lost 90% of the original pohutakawa forests
Keeping the noises noisy
Not happy to sit by and watch the Island ecosystem vanish, the Neureuter family teamed up with Wild Mob mid last year, to see what could be done.
After months of planning and prepping with the Neureuters, Wild Mob headed out to the islands in March 2017 for our very first trip. We took a team of seven return Mobsters along for the ride.
“What a satisfying way to spend a week in paradise!” – Craig, Wild Mob volunteer
Based for a week on nearby Rankino Island in a Bach (Kiwi for holiday house) overlooking the gulf, the crew (who were all mates in minutes) worked on removing a particularly nasty weed on Maria Island in The Noises.
“It was a great privilege to meet the landowners of The Noises and hear some of their knowledgeable stories and history of the islands,” says Wild Mob volunteer Craig.
The mobsters hard at work clearing mile a minute, a weed that smothers bird nesting colonies and regenerating forests in the gulf
In just one week, the team of seven managed to leave one third of Maria Island, and 1.5 hectares of Rakino reserve completely weed free and ready to receive new seabird nests.
“To see a huge difference on Maria which we can build on feels wonderful!” – Sue Neureuter.
But it wasn’t all work and no play, adds Craig. “Downtime was spent exploring, swimming, diving for sea scallops, mussel gathering, fishing and kayaking. What a satisfying way to spend a week in paradise!”
At the end of the trip, everyone was stoked with the progress. “To know that when we go back to the Noises over Easter we’ll see a huge difference on Maria, which we can build on, feels wonderful,” says Sue.
Now it’s your turn
If we can achieve all this in just one week, imagine what we could do with a few more weeks and a few more volunteers!
The variable oystercatcher, a striking Maria Island local
We’ll work to remove more introduced pests, and start documenting the marine life in the area, so larger environmental bodies listen up and get involved.
So if you’re looking for an unforgettable holiday that leaves your destination in better shape than when you discovered it, why not join us on a trip?
It’s collective impact that will see real, sustained change in the Hauraki Gulf, and environmental hot spots across the globe. As we always say, we can’t change this world alone!