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.



Results of EPA investigation into PFOS firefighting foams

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

04 April 2019

An Environmental Protection Authority investigation has found stores of firefighting foams containing a banned chemical, PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), across New Zealand.

At all sites where the banned foam was identified, including those which are not yet fully compliant, the foam has been secured within equipment, and secured against use. The foam is not accessible to the public and there is no public risk. It is appropriately labelled to warn workers of the hazards.

PFOS foams were excluded from the Firefighting Chemicals Group Standard in 2006, meaning they could no longer be imported into New Zealand. In 2011, all PFOS products were completely banned and strict controls were set to manage their storage and disposal.

The aim of our investigation was to discover whether PFOS-containing foams had been imported, manufactured, used, stored, or disposed of in New Zealand in contravention of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO) requirements, and the extent of these activities. The EPA sought to ensure any non-compliant foam was removed and disposed of safely; that any places or equipment in contact with the foam were decontaminated, and that clean-up materials were appropriately disposed of.

Chief Executive Dr Allan Freeth says: “Our investigation covered 166 sites across the country. We were very surprised to find the banned foams at six airports; in equipment owned by two companies that service airports; at three sites controlled by a major oil company; in two tug boats; and at a tyre company.

“Firefighting foam with lower levels of PFOS was also found at some other sites. These lower levels likely resulted from contamination arising from previous use of PFOS foams.

“In all cases, operators have taken the EPA’s direction and complied with storage and labelling laws. Any ongoing risks to the environment have been mitigated.

“In all instances, our aim was to secure the best outcome by working with parties, either on a voluntary basis or via a compliance order, to ensure they took the necessary steps to decontaminate or dispose of the foam in line with technical standards.

“I want to stress that we found no intentional non-compliance. We concluded it was highly likely that all the banned foam we identified had been imported before 2006, when it was legal. There is, however, no excuse when businesses that are part of the professional firefighting sector do not keep up to date with law changes in their industry.

“Three compliance orders were issued early in the investigation to reflect the seriousness of the public and environmental issues arising from use of these foams. A later compliance order was served on an operator in response to its reluctance to take action.

“We consider that we have met the objectives of our investigation. While no prosecutions were undertaken, enforcement and compliance action has been successful. We remain vigilant and will take very seriously any circumstances where we might find banned foam being used or stored illegally in the future.

“This investigation was a first for the EPA. Changes to HSNO Act, which came into force on 1 December 2017, gave us new enforcement powers which allowed us to take action on non-compliance. We initiated this independent investigation 19 days later.

“Because of the protracted nature around safe disposal of the banned foam, we cannot yet verify that full compliance with legal requirements has been achieved in all cases. However, substantial progress has been achieved, and EPA investigators will continue to work towards ensuring that all PFOS foams are safely removed and disposed of, eliminating the threat of any future contamination of the New Zealand environment.”

Read the full report for more information 

Background information

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) discovered soil and water contamination from PFOS, and a related substance PFOA, at its Ohakea and Woodbourne airbases. The source was thought to be a specialist firefighting foam used for combating liquid fuel fires. The foam may have been used at the airbases during training exercises, and during emergencies.

On 7 December 2017 the Government announced an All-of-Government investigation, and mitigation measures, for potential water contamination at Woodbourne and Ohakea airbases. The focus was to be on water contamination and land remediation for public health and safety.

PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid)

From the 1960s to the 1990s, firefighting foams containing PFOS were widely used internationally, including for firefighting training. They were the most effective means of extinguishing highly volatile, liquid fuel fires. So they were often deployed at airports, oil facilities and military bases. They have a narrow and specific use, and would not be present in home fire extinguishers, for example.

PFOS is classified as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) under the Stockholm Convention, an international agreement on managing POPs to protect the environment and human health. New Zealand became a signatory to the Convention in May 2001.

POPs are stable compounds that do not readily break down through chemical or biological processes. They persist for a long time, both in the environment and the human body, with potential health effects.

Under the Stockholm Convention, POPs were banned in 2004. PFOS was listed as a POP, with effect from 2010.

Regulation of PFOS in New Zealand

In 2006 PFOS firefighting foams were excluded from the EPA’s Firefighting Chemicals Group Standard, meaning they could no longer be imported into New Zealand, or manufactured here. A Group Standard is a process through which the EPA approves groups of similar substances for use in New Zealand under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO).

In 2011, a Stockholm Convention decision recognising PFOS as a POP was written into New Zealand domestic law. This meant the use of PFOS products in New Zealand was banned completely and strict controls were set around their storage and disposal.

The EPA reissued the 2006 Group Standard in 2017, to take into account changes brought about by health and safety reforms, but this did not lift the restriction on PFOS.

EPA investigation launched 20 December 2017

The EPA had assumed new enforcement powers following changes to the HSNO Act, which came into force from 1 December 2017. Using those powers, on 20 December 2017 the EPA announced it was launching an independent investigation to find out whether firefighting foams containing PFOS had been imported, manufactured, used, sourced or disposed of at places other than NZDF sites.

The scope of the EPA’s investigation was different from that run by the All-of-Government group, as it is not responsible for finding or cleaning-up soil or water at contaminated sites.

The EPA sought to ensure that any non-compliant foam was removed and disposed of in an approved, safe, way so it could never be used again. It also required that any places or equipment in contact with the foam were decontaminated, and that clean-up materials were appropriately disposed of.

Initial focus of investigation – airports

The EPA began by investigating airports, as the NZDF sites with suspected PFOS contamination were airbases. Commercial airports were the first priority – 14 were asked to provide information about their firefighting foams. Larger airports were contacted first, as they had their own dedicated firefighting resources.

After this initial approach, a further 20 smaller airports were reviewed.

Next stage – identifying other sectors

The EPA used an evidence and risk-based approach to prioritise other sites that may have possessed, used or stored PFOS foams. Risk criteria considered were:

  • volume of firefighting foam likely to be held
  • sector size
  • public risk
  • EPA knowledge of the sector and its history

On this basis, the EPA selected as the next priority for investigation ports, refineries, bulk fuel storage sites and petrochemical sites.

The third priority sector identified covered New Zealand-registered ships and shipping companies.

Focus on storage of foam

The investigation construed “use” of PFOS-contaminated foam to include foam stored in equipment, such as firefighting trucks or firefighting systems, or in containers, so that it is available for immediate use in an emergency.

Where PFOS-contaminated foam was unable to be replaced immediately (for example, for public safety in the event of an air crash), we allowed organisations to store it (in compliance with applicable EPA hazardous substances requirements) until a replacement could be found.

The EPA’s approach to compliance

The EPA adopted the standard Voluntary, Assisted, Directed, Enforced (VADE) investigative model. This uses a graduated range of approaches – from assistance to those who want to do the right thing but don’t always succeed, through to invoking the full force of the law for wilful illegal behaviour.

The aim of the investigation was to secure the best outcome by working with parties, either on a voluntary basis or via a compliance order, to ensure they took the necessary steps regarding decontamination and disposal.

A black-and-white, full force of the law response – such as prosecution – is not always considered best practice in addressing non-compliance, especially where those under investigation indicate willingness to comply.

The EPA’s choice of enforcement action was also guided by consideration of:

  • the extent or risk of harm to the public and the environment
  • the conduct and compliance history of the person or business
  • parties’ attitude to compliance

Collecting evidence

EPA investigators sought from each party a list of foams currently in use or storage, by brand name and type. Meetings were held at the various locations, always involving two HSNO-warranted EPA enforcement officers. The EPA sent follow-up letters if it required additional information.

Following the meetings, premises and facilities were physically inspected.  This included sampling firefighting foam under strict protocols, to prevent cross-contamination, and to protect the integrity of the chain of custody. An “A” and a “B” sample were collected from each selected area or container.

“A” samples were sent to AsureQuality, Wellington, for a Certificate of Analysis for the presence of PFOS, PFOA and other PFAS compounds. “B” samples were kept intact in case the company requested a second test. None did.

Sites where PFOS firefighting foam was discovered

Foams containing PFOS were found at six airports; in equipment owned by two companies that service airports; at three sites controlled by a major oil company; in two tug boats; and at a tyre company.

Firefighting foam with lower levels of PFOS was also found at a variety of other sites. These lower levels likely resulted from contamination arising from previous use of PFOS foams.

In all cases, operators took the EPA’s direction, and complied with legal storage and labelling obligations.

EPA investigators required 13 sites to flush out and clean equipment and systems to ensure they would not contaminate compliant firefighting foam. Operators also needed to ensure that residues after rinsing out equipment complied with Resource Management Act and trade waste by-laws.

Stage 1: Airports

Of the 14 airports approached initially, four confirmed they held non-compliant firefighting foam (3M Light Water): Gisborne, Nelson, Palmerston North and Hawke’s Bay. EPA investigators physically inspected these airports, and equipment was examined and samples taken.

Later testing showed PFOS contamination in foams at three further airports. Two had low levels of contamination in foam in two fire trucks each; the other had a low level of contamination in redundant foam in storage. The airports concerned were Queenstown, New Plymouth and Auckland.

Of the remaining 19 airports investigated, Kapiti Coast and the Chatham Islands confirmed they held redundant non-compliant firefighting foam (3M Light Water) in storage.

The EPA physically inspected 10 commercial airports of the 34 identified.

Stage 2: Ports, refineries, bulk fuel storage and petrochemicals sites

Three of 92 sites investigated confirmed they held PFOS firefighting foam. All were controlled by Shell Taranaki Ltd in New Plymouth.

Stage 3: New Zealand-registered ships and shipping companies

Two of the New Zealand-registered ships and shipping companies investigated held non-compliant foam. They were:

  • Marine Services Auckland Ltd (on the vessel MV Maui 1)
  • Lyttelton Port Company (on the vessel MV Purau)

Compliance and enforcement

Although the EPA investigation identified PFOS firefighting foam at several locations, there was no evidence that anyone had imported it after 2006, when PFOS foams were excluded from the Firefighting Chemicals Group Standard, meaning they could no longer be imported into New Zealand.

Those subject to the investigation showed a strong desire to comply with HSNO Act requirements. Sites were proactive in managing the situation and working towards compliance, as the EPA’s investigation report shows.

In response to our investigation, organisations have taken a range of actions, including seeking export permits to enable environmentally-sound disposal of PFOS foam by high-temperature incineration overseas, and engaging environmental consultants to manage their sites.

The EPA served three Compliance Orders early in its investigation, two relating to Nelson Airport Ltd and Nelson Airport Fire Service Ltd. A third Compliance Order was served on a professional services company – Task Protection Services Ltd – that owned and controlled fire trucks, equipment, containers and firefighting foam at Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Palmerston North Airports.

Early in 2019, a further Compliance Order was served on the Lyttelton Port Company.

A Compliance Order is a directive instrument that sets out clear actions required to resolve a particular issue. The EPA issued these orders so there would be no misunderstanding of what was required to rectify non-compliance. It is an offence not to comply with such orders.

Recipients of the three Compliance Orders relating to airports were required to:

  • stop using PFOS firefighting foam (allowances were made for emergency use);
  • seek technical advice from EPA-approved experts, and lodge with the EPA a written plan regarding steps to be taken to discontinue use of PFOS foams, and to safely remove, transport and dispose of them; and
  • submit action plans to the EPA outlining arrangements for things such as disposing of the foam and associated containers; cleaning firefighting trucks and hangars that held PFOS foam; and storing contaminated waste water.

Developing agreed, final plans was protracted because of the highly technical nature of the work, the need for the parties to retain appropriate expertise, and other logistical challenges.

The EPA is monitoring implementation of the plans, and will follow-up as required. The parties involved continue to have legal responsibility for complying with the law, achieved through execution of their respective plans.

Next steps

The EPA investigation is now in a “trust and verify” stage. This means it is visiting entities from a cross-section of sectors that have self-assessed themselves as being compliant. During the EPA visits, firefighting foam is tested to check the integrity of the self-reporting regime.

Review of regulatory instruments

The EPA is working to ensure that the relevant regulatory tools are effective. There needs to be clarity about which firefighting foams are legal for use in New Zealand, and a sound policy basis for the exclusion or restriction of particular foams in the Fire Fighting Chemicals Group Standard.

The EPA’s work will take account of expanding scientific knowledge about these substances, and recent international developments in the regulation of firefighting foams. It will include reviewing and amending:

  • the Fire Fighting Chemicals Group Standard 2017
  • the Hazardous Substance (Storage and Disposal of Persistent Organic Pollutants) Notice 2004

These instruments regulate the use, storage, and disposal of firefighting foams including, in the case of the latter, the old PFOS-containing products.

The EPA is intending to issue consultation documents on proposed amendments to this Group Standard and Notice in June 2019.

EPA’s greater focus on engagement and compliance

As an organisation, we’re working on moving away from our current focus on processing – to spending more time on engaging with our customers and stakeholders, and compliance.

Programmes underway aimed at streamlining our processes – for example updating our management of hazardous substances applications, and creating a new chemical management system – will allow us to concentrate more of our efforts on ensuring our environment and people are better protected against harm.

More public information that is easy to access and understand

We have updated our website, with a focus on clarity of navigation and ease of access to information. Our proactive regulator and Open Book initiatives will also make it easier for stakeholders and the public to understand our processes and thinking.


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


New Zealand Colony Loss Survey shows ongoing trend in overall honey bee colony loss

Source: Landcare Research

A report on the New Zealand Colony Loss Survey for 2018 has been released highlighting an increase in colony losses in most regions throughout New Zealand, with the Upper North Island having the highest colony loss rates.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today published the report, revealing beekeepers have reported a higher hive loss rate than previous years in four out of the six broad areas of the country.

Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research researchers conducted the annual online survey on behalf of the beekeeping industry and MPI. More than 3,600 registered beekeepers (47% of NZ beekeepers) participated in the survey, providing information about the health of their bees and relevant management practices.

This year’s results estimate the national-level overall loss rates for winter 2018 at 10.2%, up from 2016 (9.7%) and 2015 (8.4%), but statistically indistinguishable from 2017 (9.6%). However, further analysis demonstrates a positive time trend in winter losses at the national level.

The highest colony loss rates occurred in the Upper North Island (12.8%) and Middle South Island (11.4%), while the lowest were registered in the Lower North Island (8.1%).

Trend analysis reveals that overall loss rates have increased since 2016 in the Upper North Island and across the South Island, while decreasing in the Middle North Island and Lower North Island.

Average loss rates were significantly higher for non-commercial beekeepers than for semi-commercial and commercial beekeepers.

Leading causes of colony losses include queen problems (35.5%), suspected varroa and related complications (19.5%), suspected starvation (12.1%), and wasps (12.1%).

Most commonly, queen problems were attributed to drone-laying queens and queen failure – but both of these issues were more pronounced among older rather than younger queens.

The Lower South Island reported less formal monitoring of varroa than other regions and the report showed that, among beekeepers who treat varroa, Amitraz and Flumetrin are the most common treatments by a wide margin.

The Colony Loss survey has been conducted annually since 2015 and the questionnaire is based on the international COLOSS survey, but has been adapted to include topics of specific interest to New Zealand beekeepers.

Full survey results: www.landcareresearch.co.nz/bee-health

Full report: www.mpi.govt.nz/document-vault/16711


March temperatures more evidence of a warming climate

Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research

If you thought summer lasted until the very last day of March, you’d be right.

NIWA today released its March Climate Summary which confirms temperatures during the first month of autumn were at record highs in many places.

New Zealand climate – months (per year) colder or warmer than normal

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Officially, this March was the second equal hottest on record, tying with March 1999 and just behind March 1968. According to NIWA’s long-term temperature record the Seven Station Series, last month’s temperature was 1.89ᵒC above average.

The first three months of this year have been the fourth warmest start to the year since records began in 1909.

NIWA principal scientist climate Dr Brett Mullan says the high March temperatures were consistent with our warming climate and when seen in context with other warm months a clear trend was evident.

NIWA climatologists use averages spanning a 30-year period from 1981 to 2010 as the basis of their calculations.

“There were six years before 1930 which did not have a single month in the year warmer than the 1981-2010 average. But in 1998 and 2013 11 out of 12 months were warmer than normal.”

Dr Mullan also says that of the past 100 months from December 2010 to March 2019, 70 were warmer than average and 30 colder than average.

“If New Zealand had maintained the climate it had from 1981 to 2010, we would have expected a 50:50 split. This is a huge divergence.”

So far this year, each month has been warmer than normal.

“The increasing frequency of warm months versus cold months is clear evidence of a warming climate. Greenhouse gas increases are the driving factor behind the progressive warming for New Zealand and the globe,” Dr Mullan said.

“We can expect high temperature records to be broken with increasing frequency over the coming years.”

New Zealand’s six main centres all recorded well above average March temperatures with Dunedin experiencing its warmest March on record. The highest temperature of the month was 32.4ᵒC at Waipara on March 5.

Rainfall was below normal (50-79% of normal) or well below normal (<50% of normal) for five of the six main centres.</p>

From Cape Reinga to the bottom of the South Island, record mean air temperatures were reached last month. Also of note was Ranfurly with a mean maximum temperature during March of 23.4°C, which is 4.0°C warmer than average and the highest since records began there in 1897. 

Warmer than average sea surface temperatures persisted throughout March and marine heatwave conditions continued in the Tasman Sea and in parts of New Zealand’s coastal waters.

Meanwhile, Australia has just experienced its hottest March on record, and its hottest first quarter of the year ever recorded.


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.


The response to global hunger is tragically inadequate

Source: Oxfam New Zealand

The “Global Report on Food Crises”, released today by the Food Security Information Network, says that more than 113 million people across 53 countries experienced acute hunger and required urgent food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance in 2018.

Reacting to the news, Oxfam France’s Executive Director Cécile Duflot, said:

“We live in a world of plenty, yet one in nine people are hungry, more than 110 million women, men and children require urgent humanitarian assistance, and two global food price crises in a little over ten years pushed 44 million people into povertyThis is a human-made crisis caused by conflict, climate change, and a broken global food system.

Decades of bad policy making have led to the corporate takeover of our food and agricultural systems where ensuring a decent income for farmers or a sustainable food supply comes a poor second to securing shareholder returns.


At the same time, governments have failed to invest in, or provide development aid for, smallholder agriculture – even though smallholder farmers, many of which are women, play a critical role in feeding hundreds of millions of people across the globe.


“Governments in rich and poor countries alike have promised bold reforms, but delivered little. That must change. Governments and aid donors must do far more to support women by promoting gender equality in agriculture to unleash their huge potential to help end hunger. They also must invest primarily in small-holder agriculture, where growth has been proven to be two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than in any other sector.”



  • Oxfam’s new report “Ten Years after the Global Food Crisis, Rural Women Still Bear the Brunt of Poverty and Hunger” analyses the reforms implemented since the food price crisis in 2007-2008, and highlights why they will not be enough to prevent another crisis or end hunger.
  • The 2019 “Global Report on Food Crises” forecasts that conflict and insecurity will remain the main drivers of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in 2019, together with extreme climate events like Cyclone Idai and the drought in southern Africa, which will undermine the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people in the region.
  • Women play a crucial role in agriculture, feeding hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Yet, they face systemic discrimination – for instance when it comes to the right to own land or access to credit. However, the 2019 food crises report highlights that women are more likely to be food-insecure than men in every region of the world, and that they are disproportionately affected by climate change, conflict and displacement. In several countries, including Afghanistan and Ethiopia, the situation of women worsened in 2018, and they are more affected by acute malnutrition than a year before.
  • The report also underlines the need for more and better data on how emergencies impact hunger and food insecurity of women. This could help to better understand the root causes of malnutrition, and to fight them effectively.
  • The price of food commodities rose by 83% between early 2007 and May 2008. A similar spike in food prices happened again between 2010 and 2011. These spikes were driven by a range of factors, including food price speculation, increased global demand for biofuels, decreasing food stocks, the diversion of food for livestock, and extreme weather events linked to climate change. Structural problems which also contributed to the spike in food prices include the liberalization of agricultural trade, the concentration of distribution and input supply in the hands of a few corporations, the marginalization of smallholder farmers, declining public investment in agriculture and decreasing development aid to small-holder agriculture.
  • Reforms and increased investment in agriculture pledged in the aftermath of the crisis have been inadequate. According to UN estimates, there is an investment gap in developing-country agriculture of USD 260 billion annually.
  • Oxfam analyzed project data for EU development aid to the agricultural sector and found that, contrary to what it promised, only 2-3 percent of EU funding promoted gender equality in agriculture.
  • In a 2008 report, the World Bank states that growth in small-scale agriculture is two to four times more effective at reducing in hunger and poverty than growth in any other sector.


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.



Global top 10 thinker Chris Kutarna taking stage at Rotorua summit

Source: Ministry for the Environment

Rated as one of the Global Top 10 Thinkers in 2018, Chris Kutarna is taking centre stage at New Zealand’s first circular economy summit.

Mr Kutarna is renowned internationally for helping people make sense of, and thrive through, rapid political, social and economic change. He predicted Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump, and is in New Zealand to talk about the future of Aotearoa’s economy.

A key speaker at Ōhanga Āmiomio: Ellen MacArthur Foundation Pacific Summit 2019 on 3 April, Mr Kutarna will provide insights on economic transformation in relation to New Zealand moving from its current ‘take, make, waste’ linear economy to a circular economy where waste is eliminated altogether.

Hosted by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry for the Environment and Scion, the Pacific Summit aims to put the circular economy on the agenda of decision makers across business, government and academia.

Ministry for the Environment Chief Executive Vicky Robertson said that “we are rapidly consuming many of our finite resources both in New Zealand and around the world. Under a circular model, we can decrease this by ensuring products can be shared, reused and repaired, and materials can be extracted from products to be used again and again. Investing in local product stewardship and resource recovery infrastructure will also greatly benefit the economy through job creation.”

“Not only does the Pacific Summit bring together acclaimed speakers, it is also world leading because of its indigenous lens. New Zealand is designing its circular economy approach driven by Māori understandings of natural living systems in combination with a focus on sustainable regional prosperity.

“Indigenous technical knowledge (mātauranga Māori) must be an integral part of how we contextualise and progress Aotearoa’s circular economy model,” said Ms Robertson.

Mr Kutarna joins speakers including Te Haumihiata Mason, former Kaitiaki Reo (Māori Language Guardian) of the New Zealand Māori Language Commission; Ross Stevens, Programme Director at the School of Design, Victoria University of Wellington; and Andrew Morlet, Chief Executive, Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Andrew Morlet, Chief Executive Officer of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said: “Today’s economy is massively wasteful. A circular economy – in which we design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems – offers a new vision and opportunity for value creation and low-carbon growth that benefits businesses, society and the environment. Transition towards a circular economy is gaining momentum around the world, and we are delighted to host the first Pacific Summit to explore how this economic model can generate new forms of prosperity across the region.”

About Ōhanga Āmiomio: Ellen MacArthur Foundation Pacific Summit

On 3 April 2019 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation will host the world’s first circular economy Pacific Summit. The event gathers speakers and storytellers to explore the transition of the global economy, from today’s wasteful, take-make-dispose model, to one based on continual cycles of regeneration. In particular, we will ask how indigenous knowledge can inform and guide us in this shift towards a global circular economy.

The Pacific Summit will focus on three themes

  • Mātauranga: What new approaches can we unlock when contemporary economics meets indigenous worldviews?
  • Materials: How can we use experience and inspiration from the Pacific, where the issue of plastics pollution is complex, urgent and visible, to design a better system in which plastics never become waste?
  • Manifestos: Pacific states are geographically dispersed and culturally diverse, yet these are the very features that unite them. How can leaders harness this unique role and take collective action towards a shared vision for an economy that works in the long term?

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation hosts the Pacific Summit 2019 in partnership with the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment and Scion. The Summit is supported by The Nature Conservancy, Tourism New Zealand, Sustainable Business Network, The MacDiarmid Institute, Coca-Cola Oceania, and Fuji Xerox, and is backed by Arup and Sanford.

About Chris Kutarna

Chris Kutarna has been a two-time Governor General’s Medallist, a Sauvé Fellow and Commonwealth Scholar, a Fellow of the Oxford Martin School and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology (Sydney) Business School. He holds a doctorate in politics from Oxford University, where he mapped the political change of China’s emerging middle class. Chris was also once a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group in Beijing.

Media contact: Hannah Grant 022 121 5503