Date: 07 December 2012
A major upgrade of Urupukapuka Island's 11 km track network has been completed in time for summer visitors.
Department of Conservation (DOC) Bay of Islands Area Project Manager Katrina Upperton is delighted with the work. She says, "This work has opened up large parts of the island for exploration. I'm sure our summer visitors, campers and those who have been holidaying on Urupukapuka for years will enjoy exploring the new routes."
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Stunning view from the track at the Northern Cliffs highpoint to Cape Wiwiki in the northern side of the Bay of Islands
Katrina says, "Track construction contractors, Backcountry Construction Ltd., did a great job. They paid attention to detail, producing tracks that are so good that walkers are more likely to notice the outstanding views than the benching, surfacing, bridges, and steps that get them to the various parts of the island. The work will now protect the many fragile archaeological features across the island's landscape. Through the upgrade process they also removed safety issues for walkers such as greasy clay surfaces and deep erosion caused in the past by heavy stock and pedestrian traffic around steep cliff edges."
The new track system is designed to provide walkers with a steady grade and various length loop walks connecting the lovely beaches with fantastic viewpoints and extensive vistas.
Most visitors arrive at Urupukapuka Island's Otehei Bay where they can choose from several short 5 to 45 minute well-graded loop tracks, taking in archaeological sites and views of Rakaumangamanga (Cape Brett Peninsula) and the islands of the Bay.
Andrew Blanshard, DOC's Bay of Islands Historic Ranger says, "The archaeological investigation, a joint DOC, and Universities of Otago and Auckland project was carried out alongside the track upgrade work. The excavations revealed evidence of the large population that lived, grew food, and defended their island home. Much of the ground showed extensive gardening soils and remnants of protective palisades."
The next stage in the project is the design and installation of interpretation material. Moka Puru (Patu keha master carver) is working with DOC to produce an entrance piece for Otehei Bay.
- Sheep farming is a feature of the southeastern end of Urupukapuka Island with lambing and shearing generating great interest from international visitors. The grazing areas will stay clear of bush in order to reveal the extensive archaeological landscape (the island boasts the highest density of sites in Northland); the northwestern sides of the island are rapidly returning to native coastal forest.
- Brown teal/pāteke were reintroduced in September 2012 following the clearance of rats from the island in winter 2009.
- Rare NZ dotterel live and nest on several of Urupukapuka's sandy bays. To help protect wildlife, no dogs or fires are allowed on the island.
- Urupukapuka Island has three campgrounds – Urupukapuka Bay, Cable Bay, and Sunset Bay. Campsites in these bays can be booked online, several guiding companies offer tours and kayaking, and you can round off a hot walk with a swim or a cold drink at the Otehei Bay café.
- Visitors and locals can help Urupukapuka Island and the other pest-free islands of the Bay of Islands over the summer by supporting Project Island Song and the pest-free islands by stopping (before leaving home) - checking (for stowaways) – and going (and having fun!).