Projects around Auckland

Rob Jones is working with Forest and Bird and the Auckland Council to reintroduce nettles and other butterfly plants to parks.

His program is helping to fill some the urban gaps in the Northwest Wildlink Project, a collaboration between Forest and Bird and the Auckland Council focused on establishing a wildlife corridor in the Auckland area.

Te Puna Quarry Park in the Bay of Plenty now has a butterfly house and garden.
Verran Road Primary School on the North Shore has planted a number of butterfly plants including some nettles which they have enclosed for safety purposes.

Kingsland Community Gardens and Mahi Whenua on the Unitec campus have both planted nettles.

The Mount Eden area has just finished an extremely successful fundraising campaign to build the Mt. Eden Gardens Butterfly House. Construction will begin in the near future.

Hundreds of nettles and muelanbeckia have been planted in the surrounding area for native butterflies to breed.  

The extremely popular West Lynn Butterfly House was built in 1998. It started off in 1995 as a small bush house that was screened and covered with a shade cloth. That year it yielded so many butterflies that it was soon converted to a space nearly 6 times larger. The house is now visited by 5,000 school children between January and April as well as tours, residents, and other curious individuals.

Ambury Regional Park has just acquired 3.5 k for planting nettle and other butterfly plants, and planting projects will be underway shortly.

The Auckland Council just approved more nettle planting to continue next year in Meadowbank and Balmoral Heights Reserves, and is identifying more sites that might be suitable habitat for nettles.

Meet Rob

Rob extracting a chrysalis from a nettle plant

Rob extracting a chrysalis from a nettle plant

Central Auckland Branch chairperson & butterfly enthusiast Rob Jones spearheaded a city-wide project to create more butterfly-friendly areas and train a host of breeders in in collaboration with Auckland City Council since 2010.  

His love of butterflies and moths goes back to his childhood spent chasing after, and collecting them as a boy in England.

As an adult, his butterfly mania was renewed when he visited a friend who, he discovered, had nettles instead of grass for a yard.

When Rob asked him why, the friend replied that he just really loved butterflies, and looking around, Rob realized that the yard was covered in clouds of red and yellow Admirals. Rob was immediately hooked, and took some nettles to plant in his own yard.

Now, amongst his holiday pictures of meals, sights, and family, are hundreds of pictures of different species of butterflies. Each trip he takes always involves chasing after them, camera in hand.

His love of butterflies goes beyond that of a hobbyist, however, and has motivated him to start growing and distributing nettles and other butterfly plants, as well as translocating butterflies from areas where they are more abundant in an effort to increase their populations in the Auckland area.

Several hundred aspiring breeders have visited his backyard butterfly habitat to get tips and a tour.

He also works at lobbying the council to reinstate nettles in sheltered parts of parks including Balmoral and Meadowbank reserves, and does a fair share of the planting himself.

In the future, he’d like to expand the program across the country and target other New Zealand natives including the endangered Forest Ringlet Butterfly,