In a job where “no two days are the same”, Christchurch City Council Park Ranger Nigel Morritt is looking forward to his busiest time of the year.
Nigel has been working as a Park Ranger for 11 years and still thinks he has the “best job in the world”.
“We’re very lucky to have the job that we do. We’ve got the best of both worlds, being outside and around nature but also getting to interact with people every day,” says Nigel.
While he and his team work year-round to maintain the parks and keep areas clean and safe for visitors, summer is when the work really ramps up.
“Mountain bike and walking tracks are most popular over the next few months so we’ve got to make sure they continue to be in the best condition. This time of year everything grows quickly, so everything has to be cleared, including vegetation. It’s no easy feat”.
While Park Rangers have a variety of jobs including controlling plant and animal pests, to scrub cutting and making sure fire breaks are intact, Nigel says it’s the community that often make the biggest difference to their job.
“Our parks are all about building relationships and a community with people. Looking after the parks is not something we can do on our own, so we rely on our community to help keep the park looking good”.
One of his favourite aspects of the work he does is working with volunteers, particularly during the tree planting season. Pre-Covid, he would be planting up to 10,000 native trees a year with around 200 people helping over that period.
Although, lockdown disrupted plans, Nigel estimates he still planted 6500 trees this year across Halswell Quarry and Banks Peninsula.
Nigel invites anyone who is interested to come along to public planting days during the winter months. While he has regular community groups that come in, he also welcomes anyone young or old to come along and get stuck in. If you’re interested you can find out more here.
“Predominantly, our job is to help people enjoy parks. When the parks are heaving with people and enjoying the place, it gives us real joy and we can see what good we are bringing to them - maintaining some of their favourite places.
“We work with all sorts of people. Everyone has a different reason for coming in and enjoying the spaces. Parks on the edge of urban centres are so important. It’s not only good for people’s physical wellbeing, but their mental wellbeing as well.’’
So what’s Nigel’s advice to park visitors over the summer months?
“My advice is too just keep respecting each other, slow down and be aware of who and what is around you. We’re all here to enjoy these beautiful areas, so let’s make it fun for everyone”.