Date: 20 April 2012
The Department of Conservation (DOC) wants more people to experience the rare native birds and wildlife on Kapiti Island and is offering new opportunities for eco-tour operators taking visitors to the nature reserve.
Kapiti Island is one of a few island nature reserves in the country that can be visited, providing an opportunity to observe a wide range of threatened species including takahe, kaka and hihi.
Tours have operated to the island since 1997 with existing operators currently transporting about 8000 visitors a year. Current permits allow for about 30,000 managed visits per annum.
DOC spokesperson Wendy Newton says there is capacity for further well managed visits and DOC is calling for interest from responsible eco-tour operators so more visitors can enjoy this offshore sanctuary.
“Kapiti Island presents a unique chance for the public to get up close to some of New Zealand’s rarest species in their natural setting", said Wendy Newton.
“All visits need to be well managed to ensure the island’s conservation and cultural values are maintained, but within this framework there is still capacity to increase the number of people who can take part in the island experience.”
She says DOC is seeking expressions of interest from eco-tour operators who can deliver the high quality educational and biosecurity standards required.
A registration of interest process will be run over several months and facilitated by an external contractor with experience in nature-based tourism. Operators with a successful tender via the registration of interest process will be asked to apply for a concession licence to operate.
Kapiti Island is one of New Zealand's most valuable nature reserves and home to a number of native species that are either rare or entirely absent form the mainland.
Access to most nature reserves is heavily restricted however approved tourism operators have been carrying visitors to Kapiti since 1997.
All visitors are screened for imported pests.
DOC manages around 4,500 permits, leases and licences per year through the concession process.
Ph: +64 4 471 8490 or 021 116 5801