Important notice: Earthwise Valley closed in 2010 due to the unexpected passing of one of its founders. This site is maintained as-is in tribute to the many volunteers who lent their time and energy to the Valley.

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Happy Birthday Earthwise Valley ~ our project is 2 years old today!

Earthwise Valley ‘began officially’ on August 21st 2008, when we signed an agreement to purchase the land.

The property comprises almost 40 acres with a mix of degraded farmland and slowly regenerating native forest which was logged of its primary species. The land has had several decades of poor farming activity under it’s former owners, and has lost a lot of its topsoil and is was covered in weeds at the time of purchase. Poorly controlled cattle have chewed much of the native broadleaf species, as well as pohutakawa and nikau palms, and have exacerbated erosion along the stream-sides. However the land remains fertile and has a beautiful north-facing aspect, which means (in the Southern Hemisphere) that the property has dominant sun and in the semi-tropical Northen Coromandel, Earthwise Valley has a good opportunity to be restored into a real “Garden of Eden”.

To date our efforts have mainly focused on growing vegetables, and establishing fruit tree and shelter trees, as well as building a small access road and dam to create a pond for wildlife.

Conservation Volunteers from Canada make a great difference in New Zealand

In June 2010, Mélanie and Katherine from Quebec, Canada joined Earthwise Valley to help with conservation projects.

new_zealand_volunteersOver past years ELFNZ has hosted many volunteers from countries like Canada, Australia, UK & the USA. But this time the situation was a little different as these gals were in NZ for 4 weeks solely to stay at Earthwise Valley. “Dr Mél” and “Kitty-cat” came to New Zealand with the single focus of planting trees and making a difference – to make a gift to the New Zealand environment. Their time off from school in Canada was brief and they wanted to make the most of it, both doing as much good as they could and seeing a good amount of New Zealand too.

During June we planted over 1000 trees Рmany of these New Zealand natives, but also fast growing acacias from Australia, as nursery plants for future plantings of native trees and fruit trees. M̩l & Cat also helped construct 2 volunteer cabins, for future accommodation.

It was a busy month! As well as a lot of productive project work, we took time off to share some classic kiwi recreation with all the June volunteers. We went seakayaking, rockclimbing, forest hiking, some caving, horse-trekking, soaking in hotpools in Rotorua, visiting the Kauri trees in Northland, and we even spent a day at the Waikato Fielddays!

Both girls are back in their schools in Canada, probably dreaming of feijoas and golden kiwifruit…


Summer 2010 has been eventful at Earthwise Valley!

Our 2010 Summer Volunteer Programme has been AWESOME, with a great group of volunteers achieving a large number of projects and enjoying some super fun recreation trips.

First-hand perspectives – nowadays it seems everyone is traveling with a laptop.. and many volunteers are keeping a blog and/or uploading photo collections. So we’ve created a created a collective website linking to their stories:

In this news item, we’ve included links to their photographs & blogs (below)

Work has been done in the Valley and at our New Volunteers House.
Projects have included:

Our two biggest trips this year were – seakayaking at Lake Waikaremoana ( See Dave’s PHOTOS ) & hiking + climbing Mt Ngaruhoe & Mt Ruapehu on the Volcanic Plateau. ( See Nicole’s PHOTOS).

Other trips have included:

And we’ve put several videos up on YouTube!

IMPORTANTLY, a major hurdle has been successfully overcome – TCDC have granted resource consent to subdivide and create the new valley property – a process that has taken 2 years – read more…

We’re looking forward to Winter 2010!

Tuateawa has been DRY. It hasn’t rained in any decent volume since the flood of November 2009. Consequently the ground is still rock-hard and so we’re now looking forward to the Winter programme to plant a lot of trees. We already have over 200 Tarata (Lemonwood) being looked after by Thames supporters Kevin and Annie, and expect to buy more acacias and some fruittrees too. Hopefully we’ll also get another few hundred flax planted… and in time these will attract and feed birds, which will disperse more plant seeds.

Two volunteers from this Summer, Dave and Nicole are returning this Winter to organise further projects. Bring yer gumboots folks!

short movie compilation of Summer volunteer programme

Epic Volcanoes Trip

This year, one of our “epic” recreation trips was scaling the 2 big volcanoes in the central volcanic plateau area.


HERE is one volunteer’s photo blog!

Land Purchase Unconditional

In August 2008 we signed a Sale & Purchase agreement on Earthwise Valley, which was conditional on obtaining Council permission to subdivide. After 18 frustrating months this bureacratic process has concluded and a Resource Consent to subdivide has been granted!

This means our purchase of the land is now unconditional, and we will continue to lease the property until the sale completes (after surveying and title issues). While the outcome is overall a good one, and certainly a victory for common-sense, the costs for our charity have been much higher than necessary. Money that could have been spent on direct action (purchasing trees for example) has been spent on unnecessary, ‘expert’ reports – like a Landscape Assessment which recommends we plant trees!

However, the future is secured for physical works and long-term ecological restoration of the Valley.

First-hand perspectives from current Volunteers…

Nowadays it seems everyone is traveling with a laptop.. and many volunteers are keeping a blog and/or uploading photo collections.

Several of our current volunteers are doing this and we’ve created a colelctive site linking to their stories:

this includes YouTube videos and photo collections…    Thank you Dave, Nicole, John, Laura and Bexie!


Massive Weed Bash!

Over the past six weeks our Summer volunteers have been targeting a number of weed plants in the Valley and around our Volunteers House.

Species targeted include gorse, blackberry, wooly nightshade, wild ginger, and mistflower.

Lynn from the USA and Daniela from Mexico deal to a wooly nightshade tree:


Rescuing Native Trees

Recently we have been gathering large numbers of native tree seedlings from areas where they have no future.  For example there are many pohutukawa seedlings that pop up along the roadside margins only to get mowed done by the Council mowers on a monthly basis!

We’ve created a small “plant nursery” to grow these plants to a bigger size, afterwhich we can plant them into sites where they have a longterm prospect. As there has been very little rain in Tuateawa this Summer we are waiting until Autumn rain, when the ground is softer for planting, and then we’ll be spreading these trees into many areas of the Valley.

rescuing_pohutakawa pohutakawa_rescue2

Large quantities of flax planted

Although not truly a flax (actually it is a lily!) the NZ Flax Harakeke is an amazing plant.  Few actions have as much environmental benefit in New Zealand as planting large areas of flax.

NZ Flax stabilises wet, erosion-prone soil and provided habitat and food for numerous species of birds, insects and reptiles.  It gives nectar to birds like tui and bellbird, and then seeds to parrots.  It is an important plant for weaving and was milled extensively in the early nineteenth century.

Many creatures live in flax.  For example “Daniela’s Prince” was found during a flax planting day!

We have been planting hundreds of flax in the lower valley and swamps, as well as along the river edge right to the sea around Tuateawa cove.

trailer load flaxrich-flax-2

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