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Thread: Penn Creek, Tararuas

  1. #1
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    Penn Creek, Tararuas

    We've just flown out after a few days' stay, so I'll report back what its like.

    Firstly, the creek has more boulders and awkward crossings than 30 or 40 years ago. We hunted our way downstream from the hut and after 2 hours still hadn't reached the Otaki river. Heading upstream after an hour or so it was just too slow, having to step through thigh deep water between big rocks and it was really easier to head up and do a bit of sidling. The bush wasn't too bad, mostly fair visibility and reasonable travel through tawa or mahoe and ponga faces where we were.

    The hut is in good condition, with a wood burner that would be hard to cook on.

    The animals are, surprisingly, mostly goats and fair numbers of them. They seem to have expanded from just a few in the Otaki gorge to occupy all the (few) slips to well up above the hut in both main branches. I suspect this is due to pressure from a 1080 drop 6 months ago and perhaps deer have moved out further back but the goats are relatively unaffected. I hear there has been some WARO but it would be pretty hard to recover many from the main bush area below the tussock. Essentially, an intensive 1080 campaign needs to be backed up by solid pressure using foot hunters and dogs if we want to protect the bush as well as the birds.

    It sounds as if the main access route is now up to Fields hut and down a track from Table Top. The Otaki gorge sidle track is said to be an epic full day trip now. I'm sure we used to walk in to the creek on a Friday night - but not any more by the sound of it. I heard rumour of a track downstream from the hut on the true left "300 feet up the side" - has anyone followed that recently ?

    slip. This is the best one but had only goat sign on it. It marks the top of a small gorgy section of the creek.


    pool with typical creek bed travel.


    Goats. Although you might want a deer, it is your duty to shoot few of these too. Take them out in the middle of the day when its not the time for deer.
    kiwijames, Puffin, 308 and 5 others like this.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for that great report. Did you fly in/out with heliworx?

  3. #3
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    The main access has been that way for a long time. I sometimes zig-zag my way up the old way few times each year, but it has continuous steep slipping slips that at times are unpassable that requires back tracking down to the river to bypass (being a gorge there are very few limited places to get down to the river). Steams with wash outs that have vertical 5m loose gravel banks sliced into the hillside, also requires alternate route to bypass, Parts of old path overgrown with Lawyer/supplejack thus slow pushing thru with deep mud bogs thrown in, plus all the usual windfall.

    If the river is low, it is quicker to travel up/down it just to get to Otaki/Penn creek forks.

    Have found dead 1080 deer after the drops in the area and there is nowhere for the deer to go to get away from the drop zone, they get hit hard if there is not heavy rainfall days latter. Takes a couple of years before I see more than 2 animals together.

    Yes, plenty of goats around. Sometimes I see many on a walk, other times not one. The odd pig or two, here and there also.

  4. #4
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    1080 is absolutely useless for Goat control . They just will not touch it , shooting is the only control method

  5. #5
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    Yep the Penn creek track has been ruined for a long time. Last time I was there would have been 2006 and it had been covered in slips for years by that stage

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillB View Post
    Thanks for that great report. Did you fly in/out with heliworx?
    Yes, it was the Kapiti Heliworx Squirrel. The Humvee of helicopters, handled the light breeze and rain no problems, 500kg lift to spare.

    He essentially refused to fly us to Neill Forks, saying it was steep, confined, max out the chopper and we'd need to use a Robinson.
    WillB likes this.

  7. #7
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    Thanks Slug, interesting observations.

    I was thinking that in the lower Penn Creek, a couple of drops a few years apart would reduce deer populations maybe 30% and goats by 1%. The freed up carrying capacity allows goat population to double each year there is a drop. Then the goats go on to eat a much wider variety of plants than the deer and can out compete them, also doing a bit of prey switching and damaging the bush more than deer do. The remaining deer get hungry and move back up into thicker higher wetter bush that is deer habitat and less favorable for goats, perhaps some emerging onto the tussock to be creamed off by WARO. Meanwhile, goat numbers have quadrupled and they push further up the creek system, opening and drying the bush to their liking. Hunters leave them alone as they are each hoping for a deer and its good karma to spare the first few animals you see each day if they're goats. Deer become fewer and fewer and it's too far to be bothered walking (or flying) for a goat bomb up, so recreational hunting pressure falls away. Meanwhile, DoC don't have long term hunters and dogs rotating around the catchments; contract pest control teams also don't have continuity of funding and are expected to crystallise instantly around infrequent proposals. So, I'm thinking that these big bird save programs need an additional arm to include at least intensive dog teams in areas with even a small remnant goat population. We have an irruption of goats. The Southern Rimutakas is the next place we'll see this; Possibly it could already be observed in the Northern Rimutakas if we were to look.
    A330driver likes this.

  8. #8
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    Drops are done every 3 years here. Past research say it's more like 60 to 75% kill in ideal conditions. Last drop was ideal as long periods of rain did not happen before/after and no fresh feed around as it was 1080'd in Autumn, roar time, not the usual past spring drops.

    Goats are a PITA and but the number one cause of damage is done by pigs as far as I have observed, rutted up complete hillsides causing a lot of good soil erosion in the lower Otaki forks region.

 

 

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