Dave Beatty and Roselle Gould are among volunteers who are flat out trying to even the score after lockdown gave the Coromandel's rats, possums and stoats the upper hand.

The Whangamatā Harbour Care volunteers returned last week to check, restock and reset 70 traps from Whangamatā's Peninsula Pt to the upper harbour and the perimeter of Whangamatā Golf Course.

The couple spend two to three ours on each of the five pest control routes they cover every fortnight.

They welcome people genuinely available to commit to learning the ropes.


"We'll get across to the next route by paddle board and then we'll be on to the golf course," says Roselle.

The voluntary work is done to give native birds a fighting chance and although it involves enjoyable hikes in the bush and takes in sweeping vistas, it is not glamorous.

Unlocking the first trap located off the carpark at Peninsula Rd Scenic Lookout on the other side of Whangamatā harbour, they were greeted by the sight of a long-dead squashed rat.

Video cameras placed by Harbour Care show the necessity of the work as they record the variety and number of pests taking hold during lockdown while volunteers were unable to get out.

"We've had hedgehogs, rats, possums, possums with joeys on their backs - it was busy," says Roselle.

A range of traps are used, some baited with blocks of peanut butter or squid and different bait stations filled with brodifacoum, a lethal poison kept in specially designed plastic holders nailed to trees to avoid contact with dogs or children.

Signs clearly warn of the danger to dogs and the group is reminding people to be vigilant and adhere to the rules at places where they must keep dogs on a leash.

"Once you start to wipe out the possums you start to win because they're territorial. I would prefer to pull back on the poison use. This place is so inundated with pests at the moment we have to smack it to them," says Roselle.

Dave Beatty and Roselle Gould checking and restocking traps and bait stations in Whangamatā. Photo / Alison Smith
Dave Beatty and Roselle Gould checking and restocking traps and bait stations in Whangamatā. Photo / Alison Smith

The labour of love has provided moments of beauty in the bush including Roselle's close and quiet encounter with a little ruru (native owl) at Peninsula Pt.

"It's such a beautiful piece of bush, this is like the Wentworth Valley, it's a true piece of our native rewarewa forest and it's iconic."

Whangamatā Harbour Care welcomes new volunteers and is particularly grateful to anyone willing to take on the role of secretary which involves minute-taking on the first Monday of each month for about two hours.