Helicopter needed to build fence

A predator-proof fence has been on the "project list" for 20 years and now finally the first steps have been made.

Three other volunteers and I spent the whole month of February clearing a strip of space on one side of the peninsula, making way for the new mammal-diverting fence.

The fence should be roughly 1000 metres long and we have started the first 500 metres. Starting from the top of the hill, we are following a ridge down to a cliff that ends at the waterline.

With the clearing almost completed, the barge came in with the materials. They dropped the packaged posts and rolls of netting onto our neighbours' wharf, lifting the pallets by forklift and crane.

A few days later we got a call in the morning that the neighbour was going to come out with the chopper to fly the material up.

We all went up over the hill to the fence site, even Esmae came along to watch as it was a pretty exciting event.

We had fashioned a long pole with a yellow flag to make it easier for the pilot to know where the next drop-off was.

My father held the pole up, while Liam unhooked the load as the helicopter hung above and I took the pictures (much easier).

After every second load we had about three to five minutes to drop down the fence site by about 100 metres, to the next drop-off zone. Sounds easy, but there's nothing "flat" about this ridge we were running down. As fast as possible, we'd run/roll down the hill, which seemed to be mostly mud and stalky bits of tree stumps. Perfect for tripping over.

Every time we just made it and held the flag up again as the helicopter, piloted by our neighbour Rick Lucas, would return from his wharf with another load. There was one post that almost didn't make it but it managed to hang on long enough before being carefully placed onto the drop-off zone.

In about half an hour all 10 loads were up and in position, to be spread out by hand later on. Lucky we didn't have to do it by hand because our Landcruiser is in town at the moment. It will come back later by barge.

The weekend is going to be busy too. Our boat needs to come out of the water every six months to clean the hull. At high tide Liam and I went down to get it on to the beach sitting on top of two large tree stumps we had specially selected.

It took us two hours to get everything in position and tied up. So now we're just about to head off to clean and paint it. Luckily it was a good moon so it made it easier to see.

Leona Plaisier is a teenager living with her family at Tui Nature Reserve in Pelorus Sound.

The Marlborough Express