From the photo gallery...
Into the Forest
31 October 2009
To avoid crushing the burrows, and any chicks inside, we all wear petrel boards on our feet. These are large rectangles of wood that are strapped over hiking boots with snowboard bindings. It takes a while to get used to walking in them – it’s very easy to stand on your own feet and go flying, especially when searching for nests off the track where the forest is thick with supplejack and muhlenbeckia vines. But petrel boards are very important as they spread your body weight over a greater area and prevent you from breaking through the ground and collapsing nests, in much the same way as snowshoes stop you sinking into the snow.
The burrows have also affected the forest. As the thin soil is undermined by tunnels and nests, the trees have only a weak root system. Generally, the trees are under 20 centimetres in diameter. There are a few really big old Akeake but mostly the forest is young, with larger trees tending to fall over in the high winds. There is also little to no undergrowth, apart from the odd kawakawa plant, as seedlings are trampled by the birds when they return from the sea in the evenings.