Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC and Genesis are spreading the word about 'Whio Boot Camp Challenge', a computer game developed to build awareness of whio and the challenges they face in the wild.

Date:  10 October 2017

Playing the game gives young people a chance to win an amazing experience seeing whio in the wild with a DOC ranger.

The prize also includes flights, spending money, accommodation and outdoor activities that are tailored to suit the needs of the winner.

In the game, participants learn what it’s like to be a whio - paddling fast rivers, finding enough food, avoiding stoats and meeting their mate.

Catherine Buck, DOC Partnership Development Manager, says that the game has been a big hit, and has been upgraded to include new features. “This is the second year that we have run the Whio Boot Camp Challenge and last year we had over 2,500 entries.

“The aim of the campaign is to get more people aware of whio and the threats they face in a fun and engaging way. Whio are much rarer than kiwi, with less than 3000 alive in the wild. They require management through pest control and breeding assistance to maintain and grow populations”. 

Genesis and the DOC have partnered together to secure the future of this unique vulnerable native bird. Operating under the name of Whio Forever this partnership is fast tracking implementation of the national Whio Recovery Plan to protect whio and increase public awareness.

People can play the game and enter the competition on the DOC website until 22 October. 

The competition is one of many activities running during Conservation Week (14-22 October). To find out more about Conservation Week and activities in your area go to

Background information on whio

  • The whio is a threatened species of native duck that is only found in New Zealand’s fast flowing waters. Featured on New Zealand’s $10 note and with an estimated nationwide population of less than 3000 birds, whio are rarer than kiwi.
  • Whio are adapted to live on fast-flowing rivers so finding whio means you will also find clean, fast-flowing water with a good supply of underwater insects.
  • This makes whio important indicators of ecosystem health – they only exist where there is high quality clean and healthy waterways.

Whio Forever

  • Genesis has a strong historic association with whio through the Tongariro Power Scheme and in 2010 this association grew through the establishment of Whio Awareness Month (March).
  • Today, Genesis and DOC continue their partnership through the Whio Forever Programme, which aims to secure the future of whio in the wild and ensure New Zealanders understand and value of whio in our rivers.
  • The support of Genesis and the work of DOC has enabled the Whio Recovery Plan to be implemented.

Conservation issue

  • The whio are eaten by stoats, ferrets and cats, with the largest impact during nesting time when eggs, young and females are vulnerable, and also when females are in moult and can’t fly.
  • Extensive trapping can manage these predators and work in key whio habitats by DOC and Genesis on the Whio Forever Project has already seen an increase in whio numbers.
  • Whio cannot be moved to predator-free islands like other species because of their reliance on large fast-flowing rivers.
  • Pairs occupy approximately 1km of water – so they need a lot of river to sustain a large population and they fiercely defend their territories, which makes it difficult to put them with other ducks in captivity.
  • They are susceptible to flood events which, destroy nests, fragment broods and wash away their valued food source.


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