Many moons ago (several months in fact) I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer on Codfish Island (also known as Whenua Hou) a small island off the coast of Stewart Island.
It is where a lot of our native species live, away from predators such as stoats, ferrets, weasels, rats, possums, pigs and mice and of course, humans.
I worked with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to help with the Kakapo Supplementary Feeding, which is designed to assist new mothers in keeping an ideal body weight (i.e get enough food) so they can help their chicks fledge.
It is a beautiful island and every morning (and night) I was blessed with the sounds of wildlife. I saw one kakapo, but as they are nocturnal birds, this was not a surprise.
The island is strictly off limits to visitors. Access is only allowed through DOC and I had to go through a very strict quarantine process to make sure I wasn't bringing any unwanted visitors with me.
I only got lost once. Due to my own stupidity I might add. I read the map around the wrong way, headed downhill and wondered cheerily to myself why I was walking down hill when I needed to go uphill. Instead of stopping and turning around, like any sane person would, I kept walking, even after crossing a river that was clearly not marked on the map. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so stupid when I finally reached the bottom (after doing a two hour ‘shortcut’ through thick bush, with no track in sight) and found that yes, I had indeed walked the incorrect way and now I needed to backtrack.
So after walking down a mountain, up a mountain and then down again, I had to turn around, walk up a mountain, down a mountain and then back up again, a little bit like a rollercoaster, just less fun.
But aside from that little sidetrack, which ultimately equated to climbing 104 flights of stairs and walking over 25,000 steps, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.