Tourism that helps bring back the birds in Matukituki Valley
We are so lucky to live in a country surrounded by so much spectacular beauty and rare creatures. If we aren't careful, we can sometimes take advantage of that and forget how much work and manpower goes into keeping New Zealand pristine, protecting its beauty for future generations.
As I see more of the country, I've become very aware of the effort behind the beauty, and especially the work that's involved in bringing back our rare native wildlife. And nothing puts that quite into perspective like living in Wanaka, one of the most scenic spots in New Zealand.
I'm constantly inspired by the hard work and effort put in by locals. How many times do we pass those wooden pest traps on walks and not think twice about them? Or hear a rare birdsong but don't consider the work that went into keeping those birds around? Or admire a great view but forget that a lot of work has gone into protecting it?
New Zealand is a hotspot for tourism, and Wanaka has become one of those not-to-miss places on a South Island itinerary.
I'm lucky enough to call this part of New Zealand home, and if I have one place that I favour above all others, it's out in West Wanaka's Matukituki Valley.
My favourite views of this area have to be from private farmland that you can access on a 4WD nature tour with Ridgeline Adventures. It's a view of the lake and valley that you can't really get anywhere else. Mark Orbell set up Ridgeline to be able to share these views and stories with everyone, and has a passion for sustainable tourism.
It started more than four years ago when Orbell began purchasing native plants from Te Kakano – a community native plant nursery and, in association with Queenstown Lakes District Council and Te Kakano, began a planting programme on reserve land at the Mt Aspiring Lookout at Glendhu Bay.
From there, he learned about the trapping programme in the Matukituki, and the plans among various local charitable trusts to set up a solid trap line along the length of the valley, and realised he could help out on his tours. Since the safaris at Ridgeline run on West Wanaka Station – the gateway to the valley – they could easily monitor and maintain the traps in the area while sharing the message of conservation and pest control with travellers passing through.
I was lucky enough to join in one day, and help set up some of the new traps, and witnessed firsthand the effort that goes into helping bring back some of our native birds.
Even though the trapline isn't finished yet, there has already been a noticeable increase in some rare native birds, with hopes to bring back others, like the bittern, yellowhead, kea, and the robin. The South Island Robin has already returned to the valley thanks to the trapline.