Another successful southern clean-up

Photo Credit – Southern Charitable Trust

This year’s coastal cleanup crew met at the Bluff RealNZ ferry terminal on a mid-July blustery and grey morning. To the locals just a breeze. Another year and 16 very eager volunteers with most meeting for the first time. Knowing that the trip to the western coastline of Stewart Island was going to be a bit bouncy the sea sick pills were being popped.

After arriving on Stewart Island the crew were transferred to Masons Bay by Stewart Island Flights light plane. The Kilbride Homestead was their home for the few days on the island. Their arrival was closely followed by Fiordland Helicopters dropping off all the food and lifting other gear that was brought in by Robert White’s vessel the MV Loyal. The vessel and crew then headed off to start cleaning up the southern end of the island.

Over three days from 13th July the volunteers followed the same routine, breakfast, pack lunch then fly to assigned beaches for clean-up. Dough Boy was the target for the first day, then back to the homestead for the evening meal and relaxation before doing the same routine the next couple of days being dropped by helicopter to new beaches each day.

The haul over those three days was 42 cubic metres (nearly 10 tons) of rubbish that was bagged up on the beaches awaiting pick up on the 16th July. The helicopter was used again to move the bags away from the tide line to a higher drier area. Some interesting data found that one volunteer recorded 58,000 steps over the three days. These volunteers certainly cover some ground.

Similar to the start of the clean-up, the windy wild weather was back on the 16th July stopping the support boat MV Loyal that was meant to pick up the rubbish. This delay then meant a day back at the homestead for all the volunteers. Some did however brave the weather for a few hours to collect some more rubbish locally. The inclement weather meant that the crew of the vessel and helicopter were able to meet up with the volunteers at the homestead for a catch up, some tall tales and a quiz night.

Photo Credit – Southern Charitable Trust

The next day the opening in the weather meant that the MV Loyal could be loaded with all the camp gear, cookers and most of the volunteers gear before heading back to Bluff. Most of the volunteers were flown back to Oban to catch the 3pm RealNZ ferry back to the mainland with two flying back with the remaining gear. At least the weather allowed for a trip back without needing to pop seasick pills. The trip in and out may be short and sweet but the level of organisation and volunteer commitment to collect the amount of rubbish was monumental.

The bagged rubbish was picked up from the beaches by helicopter and transferred into fadges which were then loaded onto the Rakiura Shipping freight vessel which took it to Bluff. Talleys trucked the rubbish to South Fish yard where it was sorted by willing volunteers. Items that could be reused were separated and the remainder of the full bins were picked up by a truck from Bond Contracts and transported to the landfill.

It is heartening to see that the amount of rubbish taken on each clean-up is reducing. There was 19.9 ton on the first clean-up, 16.9 ton the next, 12 ton in 2021 and the most recent at 9.87 ton.

A big thanks goes out to all the volunteers and supporters to help fund the clean-up. This is an example how the community and industry can come together. The clean-up would not be the success it is without the donations of money and time. If you want to be involved in the clean-up or donate contact Johan or Joyce at Southern Coastal Charitable Trust, www.

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