PODs and Pigs

May 2014

The trip began with a good bout of POD building, largely thanks to some new minds in the mix. Bronnie was a creative force of the highest level. John milled all of the framing timber and the exterior battens. Martin bought up just about everything else, and then Andy arrived with a bunch of tools and everyone pitched in.
Andy talked (mostly to himself) non stop. Whereas once John was working he hardly said a word, conserving all energy for thinking. Martin and Bronnie tried to keep out of trouble. Jonathan skived off with Matt to formulate a planting plan for August. It was madness until dark. Thank God we don't have electricity. Everyone just had to settle down around the fire and recap the day's building.

Then in the weekend we had a seriously big work party, with lots of progress. In fact all of the remaining damage from Cyclone Ita was cleaned up. There must have been around 60 pine trees across the tracks, so this was and incredible feat. The power of volunteers!

Trees down all over the place on Great Expectations.

We had to reroute the start of The Odyssey as there were five trees down on top of each other in the first 20 metres.
It seemed better to just go under this tree, rather than remove it. It's another feature now.

Mr bloody Piggles escapes again! From a distance we thought it was a wild pig, and snuck upon it with a splitting axe, but it retaliated by trying to lick Jonathan to death, so he decided it might not be wild after all. 
 The latest we've heard is that the 'good old boys' up there for a night of pig hunting, caught Mr Piggles on the road, boxed him up and took him to Takaka for a night on the town. They soon discovered that he was owned by part time bouncer 'Lewy' and quickly returned him. But he'll escape again, mark my words. What are we going to do with you Mr Piggles?

Work and Design

March 2013

Sometimes it's hard to tell how a thing is going to work out unless you just get on and build it.
In this case, Mark, Murray, Andrew and especially Jonathan were happy to just make it up as they went along. Bloody good fun!

Now at the end of the trip we thought "if just we had one more day..."
We were totally deluded. More on that later.
Not really sure how this is going to work out!

Ok, it's starting to look cool.

A Motley Crew

November 2013

There are few holidays as satisfying as a 'conservation vacation' at Rameka and this time we shared the experience with Kevin - a solid volunteer from USA; Sean - a carrick building musicologist; and Geoff - gainfully employed prof from VUW. It was an unusual trip, with a variety of missions.

We started by building the foundations for a sleeping POD, which is essentially a wooden tent, possibly, maybe, well we will just make it up as we go and find out at the end of the job exactly what it is.

Bronnies main mission, with help from a very nice woman who was dropping her kids off to go mountain biking, was to 'Release' the previously planted trees. In other words, stop them from being smothered by weeds. They only have to grow a metre tall and then they can look after themselves.

An on the last day we had a work party with about twenty people and built another chunk of the Odyssey - a track that is living up to it's name because the terrain down in the side gut is horribly tough.

The foundations for the POD, whatever that turns out to be...

The Motley Crew enjoying a fine feast.

Sean Linton riding down Great Expectations

Mark and Kevin, forging ahead on the Odyssey

August is a time for trees

Saturday 10 to Tuesday 20 August 2013

Yippy! It's time to head down to Project Rameka for some tree planting.
This year's goal was to plant out the slip face with 200-odd tutu, which has one of the best root profiles for retaining banks - and slipfaces apparently. It will never grow into an impressive forest giant, but it will attract the birds, and at this stage, we're keen on anything that will help stop the land sliding away and causing any more damage in the next serious rain event.
And after the tutu, there were more luscious native species to plant out along the historic section of the old Rameka pack track heading in to Great Expectations and The Odyssey.
A fantastic workparty on Sunday 18 August saw 20-odd volunteers planting out miro, hinau, totara, wineberry, rimu, lemonwood ... a whole feast of fantastic canopy and sub-canopy natives that can just chug their way up to the heavens.
Greg Thurlow joined us just in time. We called him our 'earthquake refugee', as the large 6.6 Friday earthquake took place a matter of hours before his ferry had him on his way from Wellington for a two-week holiday. He was happy to lend some muscle to ferry the plants down the track, dig holes for them and then, in the afternoon, tidy up the track, making it a bit wider and smoothing out some ruts and boggy bits.
Bronnie shows a willing group the finer art of tree shelter origami - don't scoff, these blighters are surprisingly complicated to construct.

Marking another great year for the Project

The annual Project Rameka AGM took place on Friday 24 May 2013. Andrew McLellan and Jonathan Kennett made a stealth mission from Wellington across to the Bay to take part in it and check out how things were progressing on the Project in general ...
Andrew beside a giant tree lucerne
  Andrew and Jonathan installed a tribute board for the epic Odyssey work parties.

Successful plantings next to the entrance

So the Project appears to be chugging along just dandy, thanks very much. And the AGM? Such events are always useful. They're a great way of forcing everyone to stop, collect their thoughts and celebrate the Project's successes - all of which we've covered in earlier posts. AGMs are also a good time to plan for the year ahead. And what are the plans?
Definitely continuing the Odyssey grade 4 track down to the valley so that expert riders can have a bit more space to challenge themselves but also so that more area will be opened up on the Project for pest control.
Pest controller Matt Shoult is still finding lots of damage from pigs roaming into the property from a range of points along the northwestern boundary, and mustelids and possums are relentless in their rovings through the area. Albie and Fil Burgess and Paul Kilgour are doing a fantastic job of knocking back the rat and mustelid populations with a well-established trapping line around the upper reaches of the Project. This line is being extended along The Odyssey as and when funds become available.
At this stage, a big nod must go to Kevin Hague from the Green Party for his contribution of funds to these traps. Kevin offsets his carbon footprint from all his work travel requirements with payments to the Project, and his offsetting goes straight into pest control and plants. Can't think of a better way to mitigate carbon pollution.

An Easter Odyssey

31 March and 1 April 2013

The Odyssey track building competition over Easter saw 55 people carve over 1000 metres of track. It ended up spanning two days, because we tried unsuccessfully to postpone on Sunday when the weather started out looking diabolical, but three Nelson teams were already on their way, despite torrential rain. Luckily it fined up, and they were joined by a dozen locals and the Kennett clan team from Wellington.

On Sunday, competitors built the track all the way through the pines to the 800 metre mark. First equal, having built 160 metres each, were the Quiet Revolution team and the Kennett clan team. The Trail Saints from Nelson were only 10 metres behind in third place.

The weather was perfect on Monday the 1 April, so 30 Golden Bay locals entered, but the building was much tougher as we carved across a steep scrubby face for almost 300 metres.

The end result is that well over half the track has been built. It is currently grade 4 in the pines and grade 5 below that. There is still a fair chunk of work to go, so it probably won't be rideable all the way through until summer.

Many thanks to the event sponsors for prizes and materials: Ground Effect, Giro, Cycletech, Quiet Revolution Cycle Shop and The Kennett Brothers.

The startline to the Odyssey competition


The Kennett's flavoursome Cyclops marks the start of the track - be warned, this track ain't for the faint hearted.
And here's how a Nelson crew from day 1 set to.
The Nelson Trail Saints take out a moment for a photograph - but just a moment mind; they were fully focussed on winning the day's event.

The Golden Bay team wasn't having a bar of it though; no photo rest for that team, they had prizes in their sights!
The mottly crew from day 1 at the end of the day, with the prizes laid out at the front of the photo just waiting for the results.
Paul Whitakker saw the potential in a fallen log - that's gotta be worth at least 50 points, right?

George, Sasha, Kerry and Fraser took a more considered approach to the competition, figuring that brains would win over brawn in this competition.
And at the end of day 2, more prizes were laid out, and the crews prepared to hear the results.

But sometimes, test riding the track is the best way to end the day.
There's always more to come though ... Jonathan and Ricky get their kicks out of bashing through gorse and barberry sussing out the sweet lines for the track to come.

The Odyssey!

Reveal The Trail
On Easter Sunday 31 March 2013, we're running the first ever track building competition. Teams of 3 to 4 will be assigned 20-metre sections of The Odyssey we can team you up with someone if you would like). Once you have built one section, the Umpire (Paul Kennett) will check it and blow a horn, announcing to all other teams that the section is complete. Then you wolf down some Easter eggs/buns and leap frog the teams in front of you to take the next 20-metre section.

The track building in this area is very easy, and we are hoping for a natural type of trail (ie, working around and over rocks, roots and trees). The trail corridor will have been cleared (minimally), so the building will be fast.
Prizes will be awarded to the winners (and everyone else) for style, creativity and quantity. See below for the technical guff.
Location:   Historic Rameka Track down to Rameka Creek (Project Rameka, 10 km from Takaka, Golden Bay).
Distance:   2 km
Grade:        4 (Advanced) down/5 (Expert) up
Width:        300mm – 600mm
Gradient:   Just follow the markers
Structures: Bonus points (2 per metre) given for structures. Pre order materials now, or bring your own.
Creativity:  Super bonus points (20-30) given for any artistic features relating to Greek Mythology.
Sections:   After the first 300 metres (which follows the historic Rameka Track) teams can choose up to 3 sections in a row (ie, up to 60 metres in length if they wish).
Tribute:      The names of each team (including team members) will be acknowledged on a sign at the top of the trail, along with the sponsors.
The Umpire: Paul Kennett is an ex-trials champion. He will attempt anything you build, and must be able to ride it both ways (uphill bus-stops allowed).
Dates:        30th March = reconnaissance day (optional)
                   31st March = Reveal the Trail
                   1st April = Ride the Trail (or this is a bad weather backup day)
The Outcome: The Odyssey will create a 6 km loop for mountain bikers, walkers and runners. It will also provide access for pest control and tree planting.
Food:         Easter eggs, hot cross buns, sports drink, and burgers will be supplied.
Tools:        Bring some gloves and tools if you like, otherwise, there will be some available.

The Story: The Odyssey is a Greek myth of epic proportions, that has led to many other stories, including most recently a movie called O’Brother Where Art Thou. Find out more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey

Teams from Wellington, Nelson and Takaka are already entered. For more information contact    info [at]kennett.co.nz