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You wouldn't do this at home, so don't do it here either...

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Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 21,814
reviews: 48
You wouldn't do this at home, so don't do it here either...


Discovering a tourist had lit a campfire in the dunes at Sandfly Bay right next to a threatened yellow-eyed penguin colony was the last straw for volunteer Pat Dean.

With what had killed at least 56 yellow-eyed penguin adults along Otago Peninsula beaches still a mystery, the possibility a fire could get out of control and whip through the colony angered the Department of Conservation and its volunteers.

''What an idiot, he could have burnt the whole place down ... especially given the rough trot we've had,'' Ms Dean said.

Doc ranger Mel Young said the fire risk was high along the coast especially with a westerly on-shore wind. A fire in a penguin colony further south in 1995 wiped it out.

''Given we've had to take six breeding adults out of there [Sandfly Bay] dead recently, I can't believe it.''

Ms Dean (64), who has volunteered for six summers at Sandfly Bay, said she approached the German tourist when she saw smoke billowing up from the dunes where the public were asked not to go.

''I shot up the dunes yelling for him to put it out. He had his tent up and a sturdy fire going under the shelter of marram grass.''

She kicked sand on the fire and dragged the main log down the beach to the water.

''Any sparks could have set it off and decimated the place.''

The tourist, who had walked to the beach, was urged to leave and catch a ride with a fellow tourist.

posts: 5,918
reviews: 31
1. Re: You wouldn't do this at home, so don't do it here either...


Unfortunately "stupid is as stupid does"! Geography has nothing to do with it.

Not only is a campfire a potential wildfire if it escapes there have been horrible injuries after a fire has been used, and covered over, in sand.

The Polynesian races discovered millennia ago that sand breathes to some extent allowing ashes to glow and slow cook a Hungi. Here in Oz and in the USA beach parties that saw fires on the beach that were later covered over by sand cause horrific injuries to children who hours later walked into the soft sand over the "old" fire and sunk into the cavity caused by the smouldering wood slowly turning to a much smaller volume of red hot charcoal.

Please don't light fires on the beach!


Edited: 4:41 pm, February 15, 2013
San Antonio, Texas
posts: 2,265
reviews: 27
2. Re: You wouldn't do this at home, so don't do it here either...

Oh wow, I met think I met Ms Dean when I was at Sandfly Bay in November. To think some jerk would light a fire at the penguin colony. Even in the best case you're still going to scare them off from their homes. I'm glad she was there, because without her and volunteers like her you have to wonder if the colony would still even be there.

San Antonio, Texas
posts: 2,265
reviews: 27
3. Re: You wouldn't do this at home, so don't do it here either...

Of course, she was nice, friendly, and all smiles that day while marking off safe viewing areas to give the penguins their space before they came in.

new zealand
posts: 3,187
reviews: 311
4. Re: You wouldn't do this at home, so don't do it here either...

Its not just idiots lifhting fires. When we were last there groups of teenagers were wandering down trying to catch a penguin and harassing them. I gave them a piece of my mind, and then got a bit worried about my own safety.

5. Re: You wouldn't do this at home, so don't do it here either...

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