Paul has taken some time to write into us to tell us a little about what he gets up to. And boy, he does some great stuff. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did and if you live nearby and get to enjoy the reserves, here's a small insight into behind the scenes. Thanks, Paul!

As a now-retired DOC ranger, for the last few years I have been making weta hotels and donating them to be placed on some of the Hauraki Gulf Islands, and also around local reserves near my house. Mainly to encourage children to take an interest in these fabulous insects.

This year I have expanded and made a ground-based Gecko Hotel as well. My super trousers are just the thing to wear when making them and my patrol pack makes them easy to transport to suitable sights.

In my local area of Burswood, there is a queens chain reserve around the estuary and along with a neighbour we trap for rats possums and stoats and see the birdlife now holding on, and slight increases, particularly with Fantails. The rat carcasses we place on a small platform with larger perches for our local Hawks to come and scavenge from.

Last summer I made a bumblebee hive and am hopeful that it may be populated this coming season if it is I will make some more.

There are plenty of short-finned eels in our local stormwater pond and local children and my grandchildren feed them. I am thinking of placing a sloping feeding mirror in the water for better viewing.
I made a nesting platform for the pond and Pukeko have successfully raised four-generations there, safe from the local domestic cats. Planting of swan plant, Muehlenbeckia and native stinging nettle Ongaonga for butterfly feeding and breeding is also done as well as native seedling planting.
It is satisfying to see that even in a suburb of New Zealand's largest city a small area of suitable habitat can provide for a diverse range of wildlife. Having worked on some of the pest and predator-free islands of the Hauraki Gulf and seen the native birdlife increasing there I know that when the populations increase in size, not all the birds are confined to the islands and can fly to the mainland. If there is suitable habitat and food supply around shoreline cliffs and reserves we will see increasing numbers of Tuis, Kakariki, Korimako Bellbirds, Kereru and Kaka visiting our largest city, similar to the "halo" around the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington.
You may notice my signature "Starman" on some of the boxes, I am an amateur astronomer and work as a volunteer at the Auckland Observatory demonstrating the half metre Zeiss telescope to the public. A warm Cactus jacket does just the job on cold chilly winter nights there. Author of the small book "Naked Eye Wonders a short guide to the stars" which introduces people to the wonders of the night sky with New Zealand and Maori myths and legends of the stars. Te Mangaroa, the long white shark of the Milky Way. Te Ra O Tainui, the sail of The Tainui Waka. Te Manu Rore, the bird snare and others. Nothing better than sitting outside a backcountry hut and watching the stars in the evening and maybe hear a Kiwi screech and Ruru call.
The pest and predator-free islands and sanctuaries around Auckland means that there are most likely more places close to Auckland for the possibility of seeing and hearing kiwis in the wild than any other area of New Zealand. These are the places where you can stay or camp overnight with a good chance of seeing and hearing kiwi on an evening or night walk:
Tiritiri Matangi Island - book a space in the bunkhouse on the DOC website.
Rangitoto/Motutapu Island - book a campsite in Home Bay on the DOC website.
Motuihe Island - book a campsite on the DOC website.
Tawharanui Regional Park - book a campsite on the Auckland Council website.
Shakespeare Regional Park - book a campsite on the Auckland Council website.
Rotoroa Island - book on their website.
Enjoy the clear sky and the occasional cloudy ones and I wish I had discovered Supertrousers earlier.