Barrel and grate cleaning station

Image: DOC


Help protect New Zealand’s unique ecosystem by building a biosecurity checkpoint for your family/friends. Earn a Kiwi Guardians medal for becoming a Wildlife Protector.

New Zealand is home to a wide range of plant/animal species that are found nowhere else in the world. Invasive diseases can be a big issue as our species haven’t evolved to protect themselves from them. 

Did you know?Wildlife protector badge.

  • Kauri trees can live for thousands of years and reach incredible heights. Our largest tree (Tāne Mahuta) is over 1,250 years old and has grown to 51 m tall.
  • Pōhutukawa and rātā are often called New Zealand’s native Christmas trees because of the bright red flowers that decorate them during the Christmas and summer season.
  • There are over 180,000 km of rivers in New Zealand.

Do your research

Kauri dieback

  • Kauri dieback is a fungus-like disease that only attacks New Zealand kauri, it can be found in both seedlings and adult trees. 
  • Infected trees show a range of symptoms including yellowing foliage, loss of leaves, canopy thinning, dead branches, and lesions that bleed resin. 
  • Humans and pigs are the main carriers of the disease, collecting it on their shoes/trotters and spreading it throughout the forests. 
  • Visit The Kauri Dieback Programme for more information.

Myrtle rust

  • Myrtle rust is a fungal disease that severely attacks plants in the myrtle family, including pōhutukawa, mānuka, and rātā.
  • Myrtle rust attacks young, soft, actively growing leaves, shot tips, and young steams. Early symptoms are powdery, bright yellow or orange-yellow pustules on leaves, tip, and stems. This is followed by deformation of the leaves and shoots, with the potential to kill the plant it is on. 
  • The disease is mainly spread by the wind, but can be carried on contaminated clothing, insects, pets, and equipment. 
  • Read more about myrtle rust


  • Also known as ‘rock snot’, Didymo is an invasive freshwater algae that is spreading throughout rivers in the South Island.
  • Didymo can be seen in rivers as a snot-like, slimy substance that attaches itself to rocks in fast-flowing streams and will eventually clog them up, damaging the native flora and fauna if left unchecked. 
  • Humans traveling between different water sources and not cleaning their water gear (boats, fishing rods, lifejackets, etc.) are the main way Didymo spreads. 
  • Visit BiosecurityNZ for more information.

Create awareness

Choose one of the biosecurity risks detailed above, and research if further. 

Once you’ve found enough information, create a poster which tells people about the risk and what they can do to help prevent it spreading. 

Then hang it proudly in your house/school/community area.

Check, Clean, Dry

Now that you know about some of the biosecurity threats New Zealand faces, it’s time for you to do your part to help protect us! One of the most effective ways for people to aid in New Zealand’s biosecurity is to follow the check, clean, dry method.


Remove any plant matter from your gear and leave it at the site (the river or lake bank) or put it in the rubbish. Don’t wash plant material down any drain.


Using a cleaning solution, take the time to clean your equipment thoroughly to disinfect all surfaces that may be hiding unwanted pests and diseases.


Ensure your gear is completely dry to touch, inside and out, then leave dry for at least another 48 hours before you use it (Didymo can survive for months on moist gear).

Complete guide on how to clean your gear. 

Make sure to follow this method every time you go out and enjoy our waterways (maybe even combine it with our Water Champion medal) and help protect our country.If you aren’t going to be visiting any water soon, you can still use this method to clean your sports gear/shoes and encourage your friends/family to do so as well.

Claim your Kiwi Guardians medal

Tell us about the poster you made, and when you’ve used the check, clean, dry method, and we’ll send you a Kiwi Guardians Wildlife Protector medal!

Click on the yellow button at the top of the page to claim your Kiwi Guardians medal.

Each Kiwi Guardians action has a different medal – see how many you can collect to prove that you are making a positive difference to the environment and learning on the way.

Don’t forget to take photos while you are in action. Share the photos using #KiwiGuardians so we can see what you’ve done.

Back to top