Takahē Awareness Month

Source: Department of Conservation

April is Takahē Awareness Month, when DOC, Ngāi Tahu, our national partner Fulton Hogan, and the wide network of supporters take the opportunity to celebrate the great work of the Takahē Recovery Programme and engage New Zealanders to get out there, see a takahē, and learn about a piece of conservation history.

With around 375 takahē in the population today, takahē have come a long way since being considered extinct over 70 years ago. On top of seeing an average growth rate of 10% each year, the Programme is celebrating a year since we took the first steps towards establishing a second wild takahē population in Kahurangi National Park.

Fulton Hogan CEO Graeme Johnson and DOC Senior Takahē Ranger Glen Greaves releasing takahē in the Murchison Mountains. Credit: Anna Clare.

Learn about takahē:

For 50 years takahē were thought to be extinct until a party led by Dr Geoffrey Orbell rediscovered takahē in the Fiordland Murchison Mountains in 1948.

Watch the short film ‘Takahē – Return to the Wild’ to follow the journey of takahē from rediscovery to the successes of today’s recovery programme.

See a takahē:

Where Takahē Live

Outside of the wild populations in the  Murchison Mountains and Kahurangi National Park, takahē live at sanctuary sites. With the exception of the Burwood Takahē Centre, Cape Sanctuary, and two privately owned islands, these are all open to the public.

Takahē at public sites are our ambassadors, providing opportunities for you to admire and learn more about these amazing ‘pre-historic’ looking birds.

Kiwi Guardians + Takahē Recovery Collaboration

During Takahē Awareness Month, Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin, Wellington’s Zealandia Ecosanctuary, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre in northern Waiarapa, and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari near Cambridge, will be offering Toyota Kiwi Guardians the opportunity to get outside and see a takahē for free. Existing Kiwi Guardians will be sent a unique codeword which they can use to receive free entry to these sanctuaries. With a unique codeword provided, Kiwi Guardians can visit any of these sanctuaries and receive free entry. Not a Kiwi Guardian yet? Visit www.kiwiguardians.co.nz to see how you can get involved and receive the codeword when you redeem your first medal.

While visiting one of the Takahē Sanctuaries during Takahē Awareness Month in April, take a photo of a takahē and be in to win a Kiwi Guardians + takahē prize pack! Comment on the Kiwi Guardians Facebook post with an awesome photo of a takahē to enter.

Remember, always keep your distance from takahē at all time to avoid disturbing them and never attempt to touch or feed the birds.

Fullers360 Takahē Photo Competition

To celebrate Takahē Awareness Month, Fullers360 Ferry Service in the Hauraki Gulf, along with Rotoroa Island Trust and Tiritiri Matangi Island Trust, are running a Takahē Photo Competition with visitors to these takahē sanctuaries.

Take a photo of a takahē on Rotoroa or Tiritiri Matangi Island and post it to Facebook. Tag @Fullers360 and you’ll go in the draw to win a family ferry pass and overnight stay on Rotoroa Island OR a family ferry pass and guided walk on Tiritiri Matangi Island. To enter, use the official Takahē frame filter on Facebook and snap a photo of either a takahē or yourself on Rotoroa or Tiritiri Matangi. Tag @Fullers360 on Facebook or submit your photo via the Fullers360 website.

As well as the photo competition, Rotoroa Island will be hosting a free Takahē Walk & Talk on 27th April for visitors to the island.

Tiritiri Matangi will be holding daily takahē talks and feeding at 1:30pm daily and have a number of kid’s activities to do around the visitor centre, including colouring in’s, takahē mask making, and creating the world’s longest takahē poem!

Donate to Takahē Recovery

You can help support the Takahē Recovery Programme in our goal to restore this precious taonga species back to the wild by either sponsoring one of the Kahurangi founder takahē or donating direct to the Recovery Programme.
All donations are administered by our partner the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation – an independent charitable trust.


Native Waitaha geckos released in Riccarton Bush

Source: Department of Conservation


Native geckos are set to find a new home in Riccarton Bush as part of a Lyttelton Port Company project supported by DOC.

Date:  05 April 2019 Source:  Lyttelton Port Company

On Monday April 8, Dr Graham Ussher and his team from RMA Ecology will be safely capturing Waitaha geckos from the Gollans Bay quarry to be released in Riccarton Bush on Tuesday afternoon April 9.

The eastern part of the Gollans Bay quarry has not been quarried before and is being used as part of the Lyttelton Port Company’s (LPC) Te Awaparahi Bay Reclamation project, creating a new container terminal to keep up with shipping demands.

Some of the area is habitat for New Zealand native Waitaha gecko, and LPC recently gained a Wildlife permit from DOC which sets out how the company must manage the effects on geckos.

Dr Ussher says the Waitaha are a small, nocturnal native gecko special to the central and southern South Island.

DOC regards the Waitaha geckos as a species that has reduced in numbers and distribution since the arrival of people and pest animals. They can live to be over 36 years old.

“That is why LPC is doing its best to capture and relocate the geckos to a safe place before the quarry is developed,” says Dr Ussher.

Last week Dr Ussher and LPC workers placed artificial habitats at key locations around the quarry to safely capture the geckos.

The team is aiming to catch all the geckos within the salvage area, which will include young lizards as well as adults which could be over 20 years old. The geckos will be released into tall native forest at Riccarton Bush.

“Although Riccarton Bush is different to the habitat from which they will be captured, we expect that they will do just fine – they are hard wired to use a range of habitats,” says Dr Ussher. “We are confident they will enjoy their new lodgings.”

Riccarton Bush was chosen because it has 7.8 hectares of established forest surrounded by a state-of-the-art pest and mammal-proof fence that keeps out predators such as rats and cats.

Before the arrival of humans, geckos would have been abundant and lived in a range of habitats from the sea shore to the forest canopy.

DOC’s Community Ranger Rachel Brown says a similar release of geckos was done in 2012 as part of the Sumner Road recovery project.

“Those geckos have been regularly seen by visitors and the Riccarton Bush Trust Ranger, so it’s fantastic to see more of these native creatures safely relocated.”

All New Zealand geckos are fully protected, meaning they may only be handled under permit. It is illegal to deliberately harm them.

Ngāti Wheke are supporting the relocation of the geckos and will be attending the release to perform a karakia.

Background information

Reporters are welcome to attend the release of the geckos on Tuesday, April 9 at Riccarton Bush. We will be meeting ay 1.30 pm at Riccarton House for the release at 2 pm.

Waitaha geckos

  • Scientific name: Woodworthia cf. brunnea
  • Common name: Waitaha gecko
  • Naming authority: Cope, 1869
  • Bio status category: Indigenous (Endemic)
  • NZ threat classification: Declining


  • Brown, grey or olive with paler bands, blotches or stripes that are usually bright, and large blackish patches (especially on the intact tail).
  • Usually with a narrow or broad pale stripe running from nostril to eye.
  • Mouth lining pink, tongue pink with grey tip.
  • Eye greenish, brown or yellow and often very large.
  • Measures 53-80 mm from snout tip to vent.
  • Specimens from coastal duneland habitat are distinctly smaller (53-68 mm between snout and vent) than those from adjacent forest/rock bluff environments (68-80 mm between snout and vent).
  • Lifespan can exceed 36 years.


Phillipa Webb
Communications Advisor
Lyttelton Port Company
Phone: +64 27 373 0726


Follow the rules and keep safe while hunting

Source: Department of Conservation


The deer ‘roar’ is underway and DOC is urging thousands of hunters descending on public conservation land to keep safe.

Date:  05 April 2019

During the breeding season male deer ‘roar’ to warn off rival stags, attracting hunters taking advantage of a prime hunting opportunity.

DOC’s national key contact for recreational hunting, Mark Beardsley says all hunters need to put safety first.

“This is the busiest time of the year for hunting and we need to keep each other safe out there,” he says.

With a spike in hunter numbers out in the hills chasing a trophy stag and with multiple hazards including firearms, falls and river crossings, it’s not hard to see why a third of all search and rescues happen in April.

“Good pre-trip planning goes a long way to keep you and your hunting party safe.

“Please remember hunting in the dark or ‘spotlighting’ is a serious risk to others and is not permitted on public conservation land. It’s best to take the opportunity to rest after a hard day hunting,” says Mark.

The NZ Mountain Safety Council is also reminding hunters to keep safe this month as they roam the backcountry. 

“We know 88% of ‘big game’ hunting fatalities in the North Island involved a firearm and 80% of daytime misidentified shootings are members of the same party,” says Chief Executive, Mike Daisley.

“There’s a clear message to all ‘big game’ hunters that identifying your target is of the utmost importance because it’s quite possible it’s not a deer and might be one of your hunting party.”

DOC’s Mark Beardsley says its important hunters making the most of the ‘roar’ have a current hunting permit and comply with local hunting restrictions.

“Before going after that trophy, make sure you obtain a hunting permit from the DOC website or local DOC office. If you’re taking your dog hunting you’ll need a separate dog permit too.

Mark says the presence of deer is increasing nationally across public conservation land and hunters play an important role in helping to keep numbers down.

“While many hunters will be looking for a nice trophy animal, why not shoot a few extra and take some meat home for the family?”

The extra effort controlling deer this month contributes to reducing the impact the increasing deer population is having on vegetation.

“Our monitoring reports show deer negatively impact native vegetation and target favourite species, like broadleaf. This prevents regeneration and causes significant changes to the structure and composition of native ecosystems.”

Information on where to hunt on public conservation land, how to get a permit and safe hunting practice can be found on the DOC website.

Helpful links

Some top tips for staying safe this season are:

  • Identify your target. Ensure the complete animal is seen; don’t shoot based on individual items such as colour, shape, sound or movement. If in any doubt, shift to get a better view or don’t shoot at all. Use binoculars to identify your target; the rifle scope should only be used to place the shot.
  • Know the area you are hunting and share your knowledge with the other members of your party. Before the hunt, have everyone agree on hunting areas with a clearly defined “no fire zone” between areas.
  • Don’t assume there is no one else nearby.
  • If carrying a deer carcass or trophy head, cover it in some way so that it is clearly contrasted with the environment.
  • Be visible; wear clothing that contrasts with the environment and the animals being hunted and have appropriate gear.
  • Be alert and prepared for changes in conditions. Monitor and assess the weather.
  • Be familiar and practised with the firearm you will be using.
  • Remember the hunt is not over till everyone is safely home.



International report card on New Zealand’s indigenous nature

Source: Department of Conservation


Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says that we must do better.

Date:  04 April 2019

The Minister says the latest report on how New Zealand is tracking against national and global biodiversity targets demonstrates the importance of increased investment in conservation.

“Earlier this year I announced details of how DOC is spending an additional $76 million in Government funding to address New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis. The 6th National Report under the Convention of Biological Diversity shows how desperately needed that investment is.

“This report finds progress in some important areas including improved planning, more indigenous nature on private land under active protection and more people enjoying conservation experiences.

“However, land use changes and introduced predators and pests continue to threaten our most precious ecosystems, native plants and wildlife. More than 4,000 of New Zealand’s native plant and wildlife species are threatened or at risk of extinction and more needs to be done.

“This national report under the Convention on Biological Diversity is more transparent about the way New Zealand’s marine protected areas are categorised than previous reports. The report says that 0.4 per cent of New Zealand’s marine and coastal area is covered by the strictest international definition of 100 per cent “no-take” marine reserves. It also notes that nearly 30 per cent of New Zealand’s marine and coastal area is protected in some way, if other measures such as specific fishing restrictions are considered.

“This government is committed to protecting New Zealand’s valuable marine species and habitats and establishing a representative network of marine protected areas around New Zealand.

“Ministers are currently considering the recommendations of the South-East Marine Protection Forum and are also in the process of establishing a Ministerial Advisory Committee to progress the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Spatial Plan. 

“As well as new money for biodiversity, DOC is leading the process to develop a new national Biodiversity Strategy that will commit New Zealand to a clear vision and specific measures to better protect our unique plants and wildlife and special places, including our oceans.

“I’m particularly pleased that the report identifies a wealth of conservation initiatives and work being delivered outside of central government. New Zealanders are passionate about our indigenous nature and future reports will aim to better describe how work by iwi and hapu, councils, businesses and community organisations is helping meet international targets.

“The report is a valuable resource for people wanting to understand what work is being done on biodiversity across New Zealand,” says Eugenie Sage.

Read New Zealand’s Sixth National Report.



Whale freed of rope entangling it

Source: Department of Conservation


A humpback whale is now free of the fishing gear that entangled it after the rope was cut from it late yesterday by the Kaikōura large whale disentanglement team.

Date:  04 April 2019

The whale had been seen by a University of Otago lecturer and students off the Otago coast last Thursday with line entangled around its body and tail and trailing a buoy. It was moving slowly north.

The entangled whale was spotted close to the Kaikōura coast yesterday and reported to the Department of Conservation by Whale Watch Kaikōura.

The specially-trained large whale disentanglement team spent about three hours working to free the whale with the last of the rope cut off about 7 pm. The team includes DOC rangers and community members, including Whale Watch Kaikōura and Dolphin Encounter staff.

DOC ranger Mike Morrissey said the whale was now likely to be continuing to move north on the annual humpback whale migration to tropical waters.

“The rope was tightly wound around its tail leaving extensive and deep cuts but they should heal.”

DOC advises that anyone who sees an entangled whale should call DOC’s 24-hour hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) and not attempt to cut the whale free themselves as it is dangerous.

DOC has trained large whale disentanglement teams, one in the North Island and the other in the South Island, that use specialised equipment to disentangle whales.

Mike said the whale had been very agitated and active while they worked to cut the rope from it which highlighted why it should be left to the trained and experienced disentanglement teams.

“The whale was thrashing about, rolling, and tail slapping and you have to know what you are doing.  If you didn’t have experience and know what to expect it would be dangerous and people could get harmed.”

Mike said the whale was calm and still once the last of the rope was cut from it.

The procedure for disentangling whales is called kegging and involves using grapnel hooks to attach rope and floats to material entangling a whale to slow it down and tire it out. When the whale is sufficiently exhausted, the disentanglement team edge along the rope until they are close enough to reach over with a long pole and a range of various knife blades to cut away the material entangling the whale.

The procedure takes several hours with the priority being people’s safety.

Attempts to cut free entangled whales are only carried out when it is safe to do so. For safety, it requires sea conditions not being too rough and sufficient daylight hours as it’s not safe to disentangle whales in darkness.

In most cases entangled whales are not likely to be in any immediate risk of drowning and there is no urgency to cut away the rope entangling it.



Living memorials planted at Taupo’s Whakaipo Bay

Source: Department of Conservation


New Zealand Defence Force personnel, past and present, were recognised as part of this week’s planting day at Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve.

Date:  03 April 2019

Coordinated by conservation community group, Greening Taupo, over 3000 native shrubs and trees were planted at the popular recreation area on Saturday. Members of the community once again turned out in force to support Greening Taupo and the Taupo Girl Guides for another successful planting day.

This year’s event was part of the Matariki Tu Rākau programme. Launched by the Government on Anzac Day 2018, Matariki Tu Rākau provides funding for community led planting initiatives. The trees are to serve as living memorials to our service personnel as one of a series of commemorations to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Greening Taupo Coordinator Robyn Ellis said the event was a great to start this year’s planting season with such a special occasion.

Annual planting days have been held at Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve for 30 years. The first of these was led by Taupo Girl Guides and the plants have grown to provide protection from erosion, a habitat for birds and shade for visitors.

DOC Senior Ranger Nina Manning said that Whakaipo Bay is a shining example of what can be achieved through the collaborative efforts of the many passionate people in our community.

“There are many community groups, schools, families, hapū, iwi and recreation groups working with DOC or independently around the country to restore and protect our unique natural heritage – from restoring native flora and wildlife to managing huts, tracks and historic places. Everyone is welcome to get involved with conservation groups working in the Taupo area.”

Related links


For media enquiries contact:

Renee Potae, Ranger – Community
Phone: +64 7 384 7106
Mobile: +64 27 233 5062
Email: rpotae@doc.govt.nz


South Westland – its not all about glaciers!

Source: Department of Conservation

By Isobel Campbell and Hazel Ross

The West Coast wilderness is a must-visit location for more than just glaciers. In this blog we cover some of the awesome spots in this untamed West Coast wilderness surrounding Franz Josef Glacier and north of the Waiho river toward Hokitika.

Where the mountains meet the sea, the unique intersection of ancient vegetation, glaciated valleys, and coastal ecosystems has created a land of hidden gems. Containing part of the Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand UNESCO World Heritage area, the almost untouched landscape is the world’s best representation of the ancient lands of Gondwana. That’s pretty special. So, as you plan your South Island road-trip, it is well worth adding a few of our favourite West Coast walks and stops to the list.

The best glow-worms on the coast, visible day and night!
Photographer: Petrus Hedman

Tartare tunnels – 1 hr 20 min return

Got a glow-worm craving? Then it’s time to go caving! In the Tartare tunnels located behind Franz Josef township you can see these little critters anytime of the day or night. Constructed in 1897 for gold mining operations, the historic tunnel stretches several hundred metres, creating a pitch-black environment perfect for spotting glow-worms. This is a great walk for the kids and a bit more adventurous with ankle-deep water through the tunnel, so an extra pair of shoes and a flashlight is handy.

Suspended above Turquoise water.
Photographer: Petrus Hedman
Can you see the gold washing down the river?
Photographer: Isobel Campbell

Callery Gorge – 1 hr 30 min return

Wandering up through temperate rainforest, the track then drops down a rocky slope to the rushing Callery Gorge. Walk out onto the historic bridge to nowhere and watch the mesmerising power of the water carving through the rock walls. If you listen closely you might even hear boulders rumbling down the riverbed. As you walk through the forest, keep an eye out for some of the incredible birdlife including fantails, tomtits, and kererū if you are lucky!

Sunset on the jetty.
Photographer: Petrus Hedman
Snow-capped peaks and time for a swim.
Morning adventure to find some trout.
Photographer: Glacier Country Kayaks Ltd. 
Mirror reflection and a chance to explore
Photographer: Glacier Country Kayaks Ltd. 

Lake Mapourika

With excellent mountain views Lake Mapourika is the perfect place to park up for a swim, some fishing (don’t forget a license) or a tasty picnic. The best spot for a dip is the lakeside beach behind DOC’s Otto campsite and is regularly frequented by locals. Just make sure you watch out for eels! If you are looking for somewhere to pitch your tent the campsite offers great facilities, excellent star gazing and picturesque sunsets with snow-capped mountains often mirrored in the lake.

Explore the unique home to the white heron here at NZ’s largest coastal wetland.
Photographer: Petrus Hedman
The historic Ōkarito Wharf and boat shed will be here long after you continue with your journey
Photographer: Petrus Hedman


Tucked a 30-minute drive north of Franz Josef, this historic coastal settlement is one of the West Coast’s hidden gems. Not only is it home to New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, the rowi, it also contains New Zealand’s largest coastal wetland. The Ōkārito Lagoon is packed full of birdlife from kōtuku/white heron to royal spoonbill and can be explored by kayak or on a guided nature tour. The surrounding bush and coastline can be discovered independently on foot with walks for different abilities and fitness levels.

Warm enough for a swim and in view of snow-capped peaks … welcome to the West Coast.
Photographer: Cisco Fahnestock
Sunset on picturesque beaches what more you ask for.
Photographer: Petrus Hedman
Coastal views look out to where Hectors dolphin frequently play.
Photographer: Hazel Ross

3 Mile Pack Track – 3 hr 30 min loop

Previously used to link Ōkārito to the historic gold mining towns of Three Mile and Five Mile in the 1860s, this historic pack track sets off through coastal forest before descending to  Three Mile Lagoon. Particularly spectacular at sunset, this spot has incredible views along pristine coastline. Penguin tracks are a common along the beach so keep an eye out, and if you’re lucky you may even see the real thing! The track returns along the coast. This section can only be done at low tide so check the times before you head off (they’re printed in the carpark) or return along the inland track if it is not low tide.

The best view of the Southern alps. Glaciers once covered all that the eye can see.
Photographer: Cisco Fahnestock
Mountains to the sea, this really is a world heritage location.
Photographer: Cisco Fahnestock

Ōkārito Trig Walk – 1 hr 30 min return

A shorter, but equally spectacular alternative is the Ōkārito Trig Walk. It even has glacier views on a clear day! Branching off from the Three Mile Pack Track this walk climbs steeply to the trig point at 158 m. The viewpoint provides incredible panoramic views of native forest, the Southern Alps’ snow-capped peaks, and the Ōkārito lagoon and coast. This trig was used in 1865 when the West Coast was first mapped. From here you can clearly see the valleys carved out by glaciers 14000 years ago.

A short walk with an incredible view.
Photographer: Petrus Hedman

Pakihi Walk – 30 min return

If you’re accompanied by little legs or are short on time the Pakihi Walk is a good alternative to the Trig Track. It starts by crossing swamp lands before steadily climbing through kamahi and rimu to a viewpoint overlooking the Ōkārito lagoon and Southern Alps. Stay alert for wildlife as visitors often spot curious kea and at night you may be lucky enough to hear kiwi calling in the forest.

Lake Mahinapua.
Photographer: Robert Schadewinkel

Mahinapua Walkway – 2 hr – 2 hr 30 min one way

A stone’s throw from SH6 and Hokitika, Lake Mahinapua is surrounded by a range of great walks, swimming spots and opportunities for boating. In particular, the Mahinapua Walkway is fantastic for both walkers and cyclists alike. Part of the longer West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail, the route follows a historic logging tramline and passes through wetland areas by boardwalk. The Picnic Bay side track is a worthwhile detour offering excellent mirror lake views.

Hokitika Gorge – 15 min return

One of the most popular spots near Hokitika, is the Hokitika Gorge which is famous for its stunning bright turquoise-blue waters. Surrounded by lush native bush and topped off with an excellent swing bridge this easy walk is a great photo stop. The first viewpoint is even wheelchair accessible so great for the whole family!

In our next blog we’ll explore the sights south of the Waiho River between Fox Glacier, Haast and beyond.

If you are also looking to visit the glaciers before heading up check the daily status on the Glacier Country Website or at the DOC visitor centre. Sometimes vehicle and foot access can be lost due to storm events and changing conditions in the valley. Both Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are currently inaccessible as of April 2019.However, you can still fly up to the glaciers for the spectacular aerial views or guided walks on the ice. Read about the possibilities for flights and other activities in this article on the Tourism West Coast website.


New hut for popular West Coast walk

Source: Department of Conservation


DOC is about to start work on the rebuild of Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut located at Lake Daniell near Maruia on the West Coast of the South Island.

Date:  03 April 2019

The hut site is situated on the Lake Daniell Track. The new 20 bunk hut will be built to accommodate school groups, families and people seeking an easy tramp or first tramping experience. The hut will also include a volunteer hut warden’s quarters.

The existing hut is almost 40 years old and was built to honour two trampers who died when a hut in the area was destroyed by a landslide.

DOC Works Officer Cameron Jones says the hut is being built to accommodate people who might not have been tramping before and will include features to make it more accessible for a wider range of people.

“These include having lower bench heights and basins for children, grab rails in the toilets, decks flush with hut floor level, lower heights for some of the bunks and doorways and sufficient space inside to allow people in a wheelchair to manoeuvre inside the hut.

“DOC recognises the health benefits of people being out in nature and the need to create more opportunities for a wider range of people to experience the many benefits of time outdoors. Access to nature benefits individuals across every stage of the life span.”

While the work is underway at the site, the campsite adjacent to the hut will still be open.

The existing hut will be pulled down after Easter, and preparation work will begin before winter. Construction of the new hut will begin in spring and it is expected the hut will be open by the end of February 2020.


Wild horse muster will go ahead

Source: Department of Conservation


Due to the efforts of the two horse rehoming groups, DOC has made the decision to go ahead with the planned muster of up to 80 Kaimanawa horses.

Date:  02 April 2019

Another 20 – 30 homes are still required to meet this year’s desired target. With progress to date, the re-homing groups are confident that all places for horses required will be filled.

All mustered horses that are fit for travel on a truck will be re-homed, but any horses deemed medically unfit by a vet will be euthanised under vet supervision.

DOC would like to acknowledge the continued commitment and effort of the two re-homing groups Kaimanawa Heritage Horses (KHH) and Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society (KWHPS) in finding suitable homes for these horses.

The muster is now held on an annual basis. This allows DOC to manage the herd at the sustainable level of 300 horses within the Waiouru Military Training Area (WMTA), as recommended by the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group (KWHAG).

This number allows for the horses in the herd to maintain best condition and protects the fragile ecosystems, unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone.

The unique tussock grassland where the horses roam contains threatened plants, including at least 16 species in the New Zealand Threat Classification System, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Many of these plants occur in habitats that can sustain very little disturbance from horses.

For horse re-homing enquiries contact

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses

Kimber Brown
Phone: +64 27 450 9047
Email: kimber@kaimanawaheritagehorses.org

Michele Haultain
Phone: +64 27 431 8082
Email: michele.haultain@kaimanawaheritagehorses.org 

Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society

Sharyn Boness
Phone: +64 27 457 2040
Email: kaimanawawhps@gmail.com

Katherine Meredith
Phone: +64 27 258 8492
Email: kaimanawawhps@gmail.com 

Background information

The Kaimanawa Horse Management Plan has three core objectives:

  • to ensure the welfare of the horses is dealt with appropriately,
  • to promote the sustainability of the natural features and ecosystems of the Moawhango Ecological District, with respect to Kaimanawa wild horse impacts,
  • to manage the Kaimanawa wild horse herd at a sustainable level.

KWHAG provides advice to DOC on implementing the management plan. It consists of representatives from New Zealand Defence Force, DOC, KHH, KWHPS, NgatiRangi, RNZSPCA, Forest & Bird, New Zealand Veterinary Association and adjoining landowners.

KHH is a charitable society run by a volunteer group of passionate horse people; dedicated to the care and welfare of Kaimanawa horses both domestically and in the wild. KHH are advocates for the horses and work closely with DOC and other interested groups on the welfare and future of the Kaimanawa horses in the wild.

Prior to each muster the group search for suitable homes and complete home-checks to place as many horses as possible. KHH actively support our members and their domestic Kaimanawa horses through our welfare team, area reps, magazine, education and training, annual shows and Ribbon Days. Member generosity through membership and donations, is the group’s primary funding source.

KWHPS was formed in April 1994 to promote the preservation and protection of the Kaimanawa wild horses both in the wild and domesticity.

Our vision is to create public awareness to the plight of the Wild Kaimanawa Horse Herd and to promote the versatility of the horses being brought into captivity. KWHPS actively support all members, Kaimanawa owners and prospective owners through our dedicated committee.

KWHPS currently sponsor Kaimanawa rings at two National Breed shows, ring sponsorship at six other National A&P shows and Rider sponsorship. KHWPS primary funding source is through membership and donations.



DOC call to report sightings of entangled whale

Source: Department of Conservation


DOC is asking people to keep a lookout for a humpback whale entangled in fishing gear seen off the Otago coast yesterday afternoon.

Date:  29 March 2019

An entangled whale was seen by a University of Otago lecturer and students about 10km off Karitane north of Dunedin. It was seen moving slowly north with line entangled around its body and tail and trailing a buoy.

Anyone who sees the entangled whale should call DOC’s 24-hour hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). No one should attempt to cut the whale free themselves as this is very dangerous.

DOC leads teams trained in disentangling whales using specialised equipment and these trained personnel would attempt to disentangle the whale.

The entangled humpback could be seen off the South Island’s east coast in the coming days as it makes the annual humpback whale migration north to tropical waters at this time of year.

DOC ranger Mike Morrissey, who leads the South Island large whale disentanglement team, asks any boaties spotting the whale to not get close to it or do anything that would disturb or harass the whale.

“We ask that no one attempts to cut away the buoy being trailed by the whale. It can be dangerous and removing the buoy makes it more difficult for our trained team to carry out the whale disentanglement procedure.

“People who see the whale can assist our rescue response by staying with the whale, monitoring it and advising of its exact location for our disentanglement team to get to it.

“The whale will likely be in some distress but it is moving and is not any immediate danger so urgent action isn’t required. The priority is people’s safety and ensuring disentanglement is carried out safely by our trained team.”

Attempts to cut free entangled whales are only carried out when it is safe to do so. For safety, it requires sea conditions not being too rough and sufficient daylight hours as the procedures can take several hours and it’s not safe to disentangle whales in darkness.

The whale disentanglement team initially fully assesses the situation to determine the safest and most appropriate course of action for attempting to cut free entangled whales. Having an exact location for an entangled whale assists the whale disentanglement team in getting to the whale as soon as it is possible to do so.