Tongariro Forest is bordered by three main rivers (Whakapapa, Whanganui and Mangatepopo), all of which hold high numbers of whio.

Whio family in Tongariro forest.
There has been an increase in duckling numbers since predator control began

Tongariro Forest is a 20,000ha forest in the central North Island located to the northwest of Mt Ruapehu. Tongariro Forest is bordered by three main rivers (Whakapapa, Whanganui and Mangatepopo), all of which hold high numbers of whio. Tongariro Forest is one of eight security sites identified in the National Whio Recovery Plan (2009) as a priority for whio management.


This project is funded by the Central North Island Blue Duck Conservation Charitable Trust. It was set up as part of a mitigation package between Genesis Energy, DOC and Forest & Bird during the resource consent renewal process for the Tongariro Power Development.

Where we have come from

In 2004 an intensive project began, investigating the impacts of predator control on the whio population. Predation by stoats is undoubtedly the number one threat to whio. Other threats include rats, cats and ferrets.
Whio protection is achieved from predator trapping along the rivers, as well as aerial 1080 operations every five years.

Trapping rats.
Trapping predators is very 'hands-on' work

Recent successes

Since the project began, the number of whio pairs has jumped from 30 to 46. We are now very close to achieving our goal of having 50 whio pairs protected. The number of ducklings hatching has quadrupled since predator control began. However, in the most recent breeding season (2010/11), we took a hit from the prolonged and heavy rain during September 2010. The floods during this month washed away many nests, which meant that productivity was low last season. This season (2011/12) we are looking forward to the aerial 1080 operation in Tongariro Forest, as the last time we had an aerial 1080 operation we had our best breeding season ever.

What we do

Two blue duck contractors are employed from September to February (the blue duck breeding season).

We are now also micro-chipping the birds as a permanent way of marking them, as the colour bands can wear through and fall off after a few years in the harsh river environment.

You can help

Tongariro Forest is a popular destination for many recreational groups, including mountain bikers, kayakers, trampers and hunters. You can help by making sure to "check, clean and dry" your gear to prevent didymo from reaching the pristine rivers in the forest, as well as only taking dogs which have passed an avian aversion course into the forest.

You can also help by reporting any concerns to:

Tongariro Office
Phone:      +64 7 892 3729
Full office details

Related link

Visit Tongariro Forest Conservation Area

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