Welcome to Te Kakaho, the ‘hardcore’ island, population 5. Hardcore defined as: the most active, committed, or doctrinaire members of a group or movement. As we stepped off the boat that day onto the small and rugged island of Te Kakaho, hardcore is what we felt and over the course of 5 days in the wilderness, hardcore is what we became.
“We did not choose the hardcore life, the hardcore life chose us.”
The first thing I (Jacob, the male island representative) noticed as we beached onto the rocky shores, was that it appeared completely uncivilized, untamed and untouched by the human hand. Native birds of all kind ruled this island and the unique and endless chatter of the fearless birds echoed throughout the day. By night our tent became surrounded by the wails of Blue Penguins roaming through the forest making strange pilgrim like movements towards the highest point of the island.
Our DOC (Department of Conservation) tribal leader Phil leads the charge during the day. Ploughing ahead with the chainsaw and the ambitious task of creating a trail which will eventually link the two high points on the island. The trail system is a part of the work that needs to be carried out in order to keep the island pest free. The Department of Conservation in New Zealand work tirelessly to make sure that no invasive species inhabit Islands like Te Kakaho ensuring the survival of native and rare species. Because New Zealand is so isolated from the rest of the world, history has shown that even introducing a single foreign species can wrack havoc on this countries fragile ecosystem.
With this in mind we felt privileged, as three Americans to be given (like the native birds)…the ’rare’ opportunity to inhabit this island for the week and work alongside DOC to secure the protection of this island and all its fearless friends.
Leaving Te Kakaho was a mixture of bitter sweet, bitter being the oder that we had attained after a shower-less week and being sore all over from tough physical labour. Sweet with the lingering taste of our nightly tim tam slams and elaborate camping meals, the starry nights that never in my life I could of dreamed of, and the special bond that the simplicity of the island helped our group to form. Long live that awkward tree root that dug into my back each night and long live the conservation efforts of these very special Islands.
Team Te Kakaho