News | 10 December 2021

Welly Walks: Ranger Rachel’s Town Belt highlight

Being responsible for Pōneke’s Town Belt is no small task, but Park Ranger Rachel McLellan takes it in her stride.

A female ranger with blond ponytail holding a large black and yellow plastic container, while standing on a narrow bridge in the middle of native bush.

“I feel lucky to have this role, it’s fun and challenging and different every day.”

The Town Belt area includes 520 hectares, stretching in a horseshoe shape from Mount Victoria in the north-east, to Berhampore at its southern end, then north-west to Te Ahumairangi Hill between Wadestown and Thorndon.

Rachel, who has been a Park Ranger since 2016, says the job is super varied, which she loves.

“Park Rangers play a key role in managing Wellington’s parks and open spaces by engaging the community and encouraging partnerships that contribute to Wellington’s natural environment, vibrancy, and quality of life.”

The Park Ranger team take it in turns at being on-call, meaning there is always a ranger on duty afterhours.

“So every five weeks we are on call 24/7. This means we have to respond to afterhours issues to do with our parks and reserves that are reported via the Council’s Contact Centre.

“It can be anything from people accessing a park, dealing with antisocial behaviour, managing freedom camping, stock getting loose, parties, broken assets, trees falling down, assisting police or search and rescue – the list goes on.

“We all have interesting stories from being on-call. Some things we will deal with, other times all we can do is make sure the situation is safe and let the experts fix the problem, like large trees down.”

Rachel says being out and about, planting, and always learning are great aspects to the role, however meeting new people and getting to know volunteers is what she enjoys most.

“Our community groups that undertake work are passionate people! Whether it’s trails, restoration, trapping, recreation, or gardening that they love, I’m always impressed by their drive and commitment.

“They do this in their own time, and they are our eyes and ears. Wellington would not be the environmentally diverse city it is without them.”

Prior to becoming a ranger, Rachel worked as a Gardener in Council’s Horticulture Team, where she met some of her closest friends.

Outside of work Rachel enjoys spending time with friends and family, and she also likes admiring the rich nature along her favourite walk – the second walk of our #WellyWalks series.

CLUE: Start at the gates of Central Park on Brooklyn Road, and follow the sign posts for the Moturoa Stream Walkway. You’ll encounter some curvy bridges that lead you to a path up the hill, and you might find some Arobake Belgium Biscuits waiting for you at the top.

Once you’ve got your treat, turn right down the hill and follow it to the historic bridge where you can either stop at the Playground or head back to the front gate.

“This walk has abundant birdlife, amazing flora and like all of Wellington, you meet good people along the way.”

When it comes to plants and birds, Rachel says she has many favourites.

“But right now the kōwhai look amazing – I love their form and bright yellow flowers. I can’t pick a favourite bird but I always have to stop to watch kākā – they are so entertaining and a little bit quirky.”