News | 7 January 2022

Welly Walks: Reading the landscape with Ranger Tom

The Council manages almost 3,000 hectares of reserve land and open space in Wellington, with Park Ranger Tom Mayo responsible for the Eastern suburbs.

A young man with a beard holding a large plastic container, while standing on a limestone track, atop a hill ridge, with the track visible behind him and rocky beach shoreline and ocean below.

Tom’s a plant man, always on the lookout for a botanical thrill.

“I'm a Wellingtonian and love plants so spend a lot of time reading and checking out native plants in their natural habitats.”

Before becoming a ranger, Tom studied Landscape Architecture, and completed a horticultural apprenticeship while a Wellington City Council employee working at Ōtari Wilton's Bush, Wellington Botanic Gardens, Berhampore Nursery, and with the City Horticulture Team. 

These days he takes care of Pōneke’s parks and reserves stretching from Oriental Bay, around the Miramar Peninsula, to Lyall Bay.

Tom says there’s a lot to enjoy about the job.

“Connecting people with plants for restoration and conservation, helping them learn to read the landscape, and cleaning up parks and reserves.”

The one challenge, however, is “not enough time in the day”.

As well as helping to manage the city's natural areas, Wellington’s Park Rangers monitor the Town Belts, sportsgrounds, beaches and coastal areas.

They provide advice and help settle conflict, build and maintain relationships with community groups including dog owners, rural landowners, and four-wheel drive owners, and coordinate volunteers and community groups working on reserves, beaches and open spaces.

Tom says Pōneke has heaps of great walks and trails for exploring. His favourite changes, depending on the season and the wind direction.

At the moment, his top trail features Disphyma australe (succulent annual shrub endemic to Aotearoa) in flower, and nesting penguins!

CLUE: This is the fourth walk of our #WellyWalks series. Start your walk on Hector Street, then follow the path up until you get a harbour view on the ridge. There, you’ll find some delicious focaccia from Nicoletta's Bakery.