STOP PRESS! - the clean-up work has been progressing so well courtesy of lots of volunteers, NZDF staff and DOC staff that they are now not requiring any more volunteers.

Back on 26 March the Fox River rose and washed out a riverside rubbish dump which had been closed since 1989.  No problem?  Well – yes – big problem and an environmental disaster not only in this beautiful area, but for 25 kilometres down the river, and for more than 50 kilometres up and down the beach front either side of the Fox River mouth, and for the off-shore sea life.

So  if you are envious of your friends off overseas, sunning themselves in Europe or the Islands – here is a great option – not so warm, but ticks the boxes on carbon use, eco tourism and aid projects.

For the last 2 months many volunteers have been spending days picking up what they can – but this ramped up mid-June to a more organised and official volunteer project.  14 of us headed out this morning shifting over 4.3 cubic meters of rubbish out of an area of just over a hectare.  They hope to have 100 volunteers at a time on the riverbed in the weeks ahead.

What is it like – well it doesn’t smell, but it is lots of bending and moving amongst logs washed out of the forest.  90% of it is soft plastic, but there are also car parts, hard plastics, straws and clothing.  We are on a shingle riverbed and the plastic has become tangled amongst branches and rocks.  Fortunately from today a digger has been employed to loosen the tangles so the picking out is relatively easy.  We were all supplied with highviz vests and gloves, lunch, dinner – and a most glorious South Westland day.

Our team leader Phil – arrived 12 weeks ago for a week, and hasn’t left,  Milo from Argentina – has taken a week off from running his café in Wanaka, the rest of us come from Te Anau, Dunedin, Canterbury, Hawkes Bay and the Moutere – older, but still fit and energetic.  Last month the school kids marched against climate change – we got out there to do something about it.   If each piece of plastic we picked up today represents one fish saved from ingesting it, we must have each save thousands of fish today….

If you have a few days to spare check out their website and think about signing up SWC (South Westland Cleanup).