Dream Jobs: Rangers of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation

Published on : Thursday, August 3, 2017

6bee5547-0882-4402-9b68-d4fb8252f917-2015713100626Working in some of New Zealand’s most enchanting and dramatic landscapes, rangers with the Department of Conservation are truly living the dream.


To celebrate World Ranger Day (31 July) let’s meet five of New Zealand’s conservation rangers. To those passionate about nature and the great outdoors, their jobs look like a wonderful adventure. Yes, there’s a lot of hard work to be done, but the rewards are many and varied.


From Scotland to Motueka: James Livingstone, Senior Ranger


Growing up on the eastern edge of Scotland’s Glasgow, James Livingstone realised early on he had two choices in life. “It was either, go west to the city and experience the rough and tumble or go east to the fields and forests for more wholesome activities. In the end, I enjoyed the best of both.”


In the end, living and working close to nature won out. “In mid-70s Britain, the Forestry Commission presented by far the best opportunity to achieve that, and so I was the token Scotsman on the 1985 intake to England’s National School of Forestry,” he recalls.


He worked in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District, Wester Ross in north-west Scotland, and the Isle of Skye. On a trip to Australia, he become involved in native forest harvesting in the Otway Ranges in Victoria, a mortal sin he says he’s still repenting. “Fortunately I later found myself living in Zurich where I studied and worked in forestry and landscape architecture. This was a period of cultural enlightenment.”


Livingstone came to New Zealand in late 2002, attracted by the “best quality of life on offer anywhere”. And, he says, “almost 15 years ago, I was Johnny on the spot, talking to the right person at the right time to secure a short contract on Mangere Island in the Chatham archipelago a few days after arriving. In the ensuing years, I’ve enjoyed tremendously fulfilling roles in scenic and remote locations, from Mana Island, Pureora Forest, Raoul Island in the Kermadecs, Franz Josef and now Motueka.”


Primarily involved in protecting and recovering endangered native ecosystems and bird species, Livingstone contributes to animal ethics and kiwi recovery. “I’m proud to be part of a committed team improving biodiversity in Abel Tasman National Park, working with great people to achieve magnificent things in the best places.”


Travel Tips


Named after the flightless native weka bird, Motueka is a coastal town on the western edge of Tasman Bay. With a yearly average of 2400 hours of sunshine (one of the highest in New Zealand), the region is a veritable fruit bowl. Swim in the saltwater baths on the foreshore, cycle Tasman’s Great Taste Trail, or kayak in the legendary Abel Tasman National Park.


From Germany to Takaka: Hans Stoffregen, Senior Ranger


Born and bred near Hamburg in northern Germany, Hans Stoffregen has been a fan of the great outdoors for as long as he can remember.  “Very early on, I was a nature-focused boy and, as I grew up, I also wanted to go travelling, so when I was 22 I bought a motorcycle and went travelling through Asia, Australia and New Zealand.”


A shipbuilder by trade, Stoffregen worked in shipyards in Germany and Perth, in the mines in Australia and as a boilermaker in Wellington. “But I didn’t want to stay in that industry so in 1990 I enrolled at [Wellington’s] Victoria University and did a Masters in Conservation Studies, and part of it included a placement with the DoC [Department of Conservation].”


That placement turned into a full-time job, and today Stoffregen is a senior manager for biodiversity, based in Takaka in the north of the South Island.


“I love the diversity of the work,” he says. “Every day is something different. You never know what’s going to come at you. We’re always improvising, make things up as we go along. There is no recipe.”


He’s lucky enough to work in a field where he can make a difference.  “Ten or 20 years ago I planted trees, now they’re a forest. And we’re lucky in Golden Bay; we have some awesome programmes coming up. We’re engaged in all sorts of projects to control major pests and bring missing bits of flora and fauna back into the park. We’re even looking at bringing the endangered takahe into the area.”



Source:- Tourism New Zealand


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