Date: 30 April 2013
The first stage of the Air New Zealand-backed Routeburn Valley Restoration Plan has been completed with the installation of 38 km of stoat traps.
The $350,000 two-year biodiversity project supported by Air New Zealand aims to bring some of New Zealand’s most threatened wildlife back to the Great Walks network, including the Routeburn Track.
DOC Wakatipu biodiversity programme manager Mike Ambrose said chance encounters with New Zealand’s unique and highly vulnerable wildlife are part of the whole Great Walks experience.
“Over and above our existing pest control work in the area, this partnership has enabled us to go beyond simply providing breathing space to threatened species and we can now help populations to grow,” Mike said.
Wildlife next to the Routeburn Track that will now benefit includes native long-tailed bats/pekapeka, NZ forest parrot/kākā, parakeets/kākāriki, yellowhead /mōhua, fantails/pīwakawaka, rifleman/titipounamu (New Zealand’s smallest bird), rock wren/pīwauwau and kea, in addition to protection of New Zealand mistletoe/pikiraki near Lake Sylvan.
Air New Zealand’s investment has enabled additional staff to monitor and service the traps. It will also make possible a rat and possum control operation the next time these pests increase to damaging levels. An area of 8,500 ha is expected to benefit from the project.
Air New Zealand Head of Sponsorship James Gibson said: “Air New Zealand is committed to supporting conservation projects in New Zealand such as the Routeburn Valley Restoration Plan, which we hope will restore native bird populations around the Routeburn Track, as well as contribute to the experience of visitors to the area.”
Mike added: “Underlying the magic natural setting of the Routeburn that is enjoyed by so many people are the many challenges confronting the unique species that visitors’ encounter.”
Like many of New Zealand’s natural areas, the Routeburn Valley is subject to large-scale damage by introduced species. Without effective pest control, native species such as mōhua are destined to become extinct in the wild.
“Thanks to these partnerships, things are looking up for enigmatic wildlife on the Routeburn and for those who will get to experience it,” Mike said.
The Air New Zealand partnership is also supporting biodiversity programmes around other Great Walks including the Milford, Rakiura and Lake Waikaremoana tracks. The airline has committed $1 million to the four programmes.
The Routeburn was walked by 11,120 visitors in the 2012-13 season, compared with 9,649 in the 2011-12 season. This 15% increase was partly due to DOC’s increased focus on marketing the Great Walks over the last year, boosted by the successful partnership with Air New Zealand and great summer weather, DOC Director Commercial Business David Wilks said.
As part of the partnership, six Air New Zealand ‘Green Team’ staff recently had the chance to swap their day jobs to lay traps in the Routeburn Valley.
DOC Wakatipu community relations manager
+64 3 442 4371