The Lakes380 team heads north to Auckland

Lake Tomorata

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.

-Rose Gregersen


Captions (clockwise): Susie and Andrew work late into the night filtering eDNA samples (but remain happy). Rose field sampling. The ATV loaded and ready for the sand dune trip. Sampling Lake Wainamu.

L380 team with Ed and Nicole Butler - Lake Kereta

Caption: The Lakes380 Auckland sampling team with Ed and Nicole Donald in front of Lake Kareta.

L380 team - Lake Wainamu

Caption: The Lakes380 Auckland sampling team with Harry and Matt (Auckland Council) in front of Lake Wainamu.

See the Lakes380 team in action in this short video from Golden Bay

IMG_9961Sampling Golden Bay/Mohua – part 2

The quest to sample our 380 lakes continued last month when the crew headed over the Takaka Hill to Golden Bay. Lakes Rototai, Killarney, Otuhie and two of the Kaihoka lakes were ticked off the list early in the week (read more about these sites in Charlotte’s post below). We like to refresh the field crew to keep energy and momentum going on these lengthy and often remote field trips, so I tagged in for the second half of the trip.

The much-anticipated first heli-sampling day of the project finally arrived, bringing a stunning day of sampling on Lake Lockette in the Kahurangi National Park. Despite the picturesque surrounds, this was no holiday for the sampling team. At approx. 700 m wideand 57 m deep, Lake Lockette proved to be a physical challenge, taking over 5 hours to complete the full suite of sampling

Unfavourable weather the next day meant no heli-action, but the sampling didn’t stop. We headed northwest to the shallow, low-lying Lake Mangarakau. Wind and dark cloud descended over us making for some slow paddling progress. Having two inflatable vessels certainly makes it possible to access a range of remote lakes – but, on days like this you really miss an outboard motor!

The second chopper trip took us back into Kahurangi National Park to the much smaller and shallower Lake Peel – tucked in a mountainous bowl over the ridge from the Cobb Valley. We swooped in and got our sampling done in under three hours, but had to pack up and get out smartly before the cloud, rain and hail set in from the northeast. We better get used to these unpredictable mountain conditions for our Southland campaign, where over half of our lakes will be heli-access only!

Stay tuned for our next adventure before a well deserved christmas break, this time further north in the Auckland region.   – Katie Brasell


Sampling Golden Bay/Mohua – part 1

Anneika Young, Kura Stafford and Lenaire Crockford observe the Lakes380 team at Lake Rototai

Lakes380 launched our fieldwork in Mohua/Golden Bay with Manawhenua ki Mohua at a small blue lake, Rototai, near Takaka township. Karanga, karakia and waiata rang out in greeting to the lake and the tūpuna connected to this rohe; a karakia timatanga led by Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Rārua whānau. It was very uplifting for all involved and opened pathways for a deeper connection to lakes and the stories accumulated within layers of whakapapa and sediment deposits. In the afternoon, we drew cores from Lake Killarney in Takaka – a small suburban lake where locals recall childhood memories of playing in the waters which are now regarded as unsafe for submersion.

Over the following few days, the team cored the two Kaihoka Lakes at Westhaven Inlet in northern Golden Bay. David Ferguson, whose family has farmed there since 1915, led us across rolling hill country through multiple farm gates on beautiful lush land where his son now farms 1700 sheep. These coastal lakes are surrounded by dense bush with grand nikau palm trees protruding like a sentinel presence, causing me to ponder who is the observed and who the observer.

Another cancelled helicopter trip meant that we made an unplanned diversion to take sediment cores and water samples from Lake Otuhie. Access was challenging and required digging a slipway by hand to launch the dinghy and inflatable canoe onto a flax-flanked creek. As we entered the wide amphitheatre of Otuhie, it felt as if the scars of separation between Ranginui and Papatūānuku were still raw, in a slow process of healing. Muscular limestone bluffs towered above, softened by the green cloak of Mother Earth, and as we worked the tears of the Sky Father fell gently upon us.

  • Charlotte Šunde, 6/11/2018
From left to right: (back row) Marcus Vandergoes, Jamie Howarth, Andrew Rees, Lenaire, Crockford Harvey Ruru, Aneika Young, McKayla Holloway, Sean Waters, Mailys Picard (front row) Charlotte Sunde, Susie Wood, Kura Stafford.

(Clockwise) The Lakes380 team prepare at the edge of the Kaihoka lake a, surface sediment from Kaihoka 1, Lake Peel and the outlet of Lake Otuhie.


Lakes380 Launching Off in Wellington!


Our Lakes380 campaign began in earnest last week when the team descended upon Lake Waitawa, near Otaki, to collect our first samples in the Wellington region. The team included eight people, two boats, and three vehicles packed to the brim with all manner of equipment. Our mission: to collect all samples and clean down within half a day.

The first lake was always going to be a learning experience; the loose soupy mud and thick algal blooms at Lake Waitawa presented some logistical challenges. Nearby Lake Waiorongomai, a shallow coastal dune lake, was our second target and the first test for our shiny, new, red inflatable raft – would it fit the bill for those remote South Island lakes, accessible only by helicopter?

While the GNS Science crew retrieved four long cores from the lake bed, the rest of the team listened intently to some great korero from local kaitiaki, Caleb Royal – tales of how his ancestors once fished thousands of tuna (eels) from Waiorongomai and would bathe in its water to wash away the blood and anguish of battle on their journeys home.

Next stop was the Wairarapa and Lake Nganoke, a small shallow lake on private land in the south Wairarapa. Our sampling efforts on here saw us finishing in approximately 5 hours. We even had time to pick up a few extra samples from a very glassy, picturesque Lake Wairarapa (pictured above).

With some great improvements in coordination and teamwork we were starting to look like a pretty slick operation. The inflatable boat will be a great assets for the helicopter trips in the coming months, with the possible addition of a second smaller raft to speed up the process. Next on the agenda – sunny Nelson/Tasman! Watch this space for more updates in early November.