By Rose Gregersen, PhD student, Auckland University
The third installment of Lakes380 field sampling brought the team to Auckland’s dune lakes.
First up was and environmental DNA survey at Tomarata Lake, which lies on the edge of Mangawhai forest. Being away from laboratory facilities can be difficult, but the team is comprised of well-experienced problem solvers, and an improvised motel laboratory was quickly constructed and day one ended with a late night of sample processing.
Day two we returned to Tomarata to collect sediment cores and water quality samples. Close by Lake Spectacle was next on our list. Getting stuck in the mud here tested our four-wheel drive capabilities (or should I say, our ability to read rental car manuals, how many scientists do you think it takes to switch over to four-wheel drive?).
We cruised through day three at the beautiful Lake Kareta in South Head; smooth sailing credited to the fantastic facilities, company, and kai provided by Ed and Nicole Donald who are passionate about the future of this lake.
After refreshing our forestry safety protocols on the morning of day four, we headed further up South Head to sample in the footsteps of Kawheru the giant; lakes Rototoa and Kuwakatai. Rototoa lived up to its namesake of “strong lake”, challenging us to a tug of war over the first core. It seems our determination convinced the lake to return the corer with core intact, along with what felt like permission to continue sampling. After Rototoa we ventured into the forest to peaceful Lake Kuwakatai. Unable to launch the motor boat, we paddled the raft out managing to complete all our sampling from one vessel.
The final day took us south to Lake Wainamu, a unique lake surrounded by beautiful native bush and towering black sand dunes. Access to the lake would have been impossible without the expert ATV dune driving skills of Harry from Auckland council. With help from Kevin Simon (Auckland University) and Matt Bloxham (Auckland Council) we sampling and pack down went super smoothly and was the perfect to end a successful trip.
One of the really fantastic aspects of this project is meeting and talking with members of the community, people who are passionate about the health of Aotearoa’s lakes. There are some stories lake sediment cannot tell.