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Central Otago Lakes

Mohua Craig McKenzie
Credit or caption

Credit: Craig McKenzie

South Island


Our Vision

A tui sits on a harakeke (flax) bush, its head covered in pollen from drinking nectar

Harakeke (flax) is a great source of food for nectar-loving birds like the tūī. Credit: Craig McKenzie.

The branch is active in numerous projects related to the conservation of native flora and fauna, and the preservation of valuable natural landscape features.

The branch is represented in several other groups with related interests in conservation and public access to the high country, to the Clutha River and to reserves containing flora and fauna of special interest.

Project Approved: Why do some rat traps catch more rats? 

  • Investigating what the most effective and efficient trapping guidelines are for Otago 
  • Establishing field surveys, trap lines and analysing trap data 
  • Developing a model of trap success  

In New Zealand we have hundreds of community groups trapping rats and other predators to increase survival rates of native birds and protect native vegetation.  

Almost all trappers want to know why some rat traps catch more rats than others. Currently we don’t have reliable knowledge on micro-habitat influences on trapping successes – the best places to put traps to optimise catch-rates.  

This project is a collaboration between the Central Otago Lakes Branch of Forest & Bird (COLB), an experienced local community trapping group with a large trap-catch data set over a long time, and students and staff from the Wildlife Management Programme at the University of Otago. Teachers and students from local schools in Wanaka and Makarora will also be involved in setting up and monitoring their own traplines and collecting and analysing the data. 

This project will survey the local environments around a set of 400 traps at Makarora and try to develop a trap success model by identifying which factors influence trap success by. The model will explore a list of variables such as, vegetation type and height, presence or absence of some plant species, aspect, distance from water, roughness of the ground, proximity to tracks or pasture and – over time – weather, bait types and seasonality.  

The aim of this project is to generate trap placement guidelines that trappers can use in the field. When we know what local environmental factors influenced catch rates, we can put our traps in the best places to catch more rats, and save more birds, bats and lizards! 

Carbon Accounting / Our Footprint

In our commitment to environmental balance, the Central Otago Lakes Branch of Forest & Bird have been accounting for our Carbon Emissions caused through conservation work.  Our estimates include a range of sources, with most of our emissions being incurred through travel.

For 2018 we estimated our emissions to be 5 Tonnes Co2e. This was offset with a donation of $150.00 to Te Kakano Nurseries for native planting: ($30/tonne Co2e)

For 2019 we have estimated our emissions to be 8 Tonnes Co2e. We are in the process of securing locations in which plantings can be made and accredited for offset. This will be expanded upon in future years to continually address our environmental impact. Our focus is on planting projects that offset carbon whilst also enhancing local native habitats.

We are looking to fully address the impact of our charity’s activities nationwide. Our remit to adopt a net Zero-Carbon approach was accepted for implementation at the Forest & Bird 2018 national Annual General Meeting. The methods of Central Otago Lakes branch for carbon accounting have been published as part of Forest & Bird’s branch guidance materials.

We urge all our members to calculate their own emissions: and offset!

Our projects

  • An ongoing participation with the Department of Conservation in a stoat control project in the Makarora Valley, to protect a breeding area of the native Mohua (Yellowhead) and other native birds.
  • Inspecting and making submissions in response to tenure reviews of high country properties;
  • Arranging weekly weed-control and native planting on the foreshore of Lake Hawea;
  • Weed-clearing and replanting in the Lindis Pass reserve;
  • Numerous Planting Events and Wildling Pine Control Efforts

Branch Program / Field Excursions

The Central Otago-Lakes branch committee arranges an annual programme of talks and visits to areas of interest, including both one-day and two-day trips. These take us to places as near as the Old Man Range and as distant as Doubtful Sound.

This year (2018 - 2019) there are plans to:

- Explore local Fungi, Flora and Fauna on a day excursion.'Fungal Fora' 

- View White Heron on a day trip (November)

- Four Wheel Drive Trip over the St Bathan's Range

- A Spring Boating Trip on Lake Wanaka

- Four Wheel Drive Trip through the Motatapu

- Trip to Cluden / Lauder

- Four Wheel Drive Trip to the Old Man Range (sub alpine flowers) (December)

As we get closer to the time more information will be available for these trips, keep an eye on our branch page and newsletter!

Past Events

Kevin Hackwell Talk - 17th July 2019

Kevin, the Chief Conservation Advisor for Forest & Bird visited Wanaka and gave a talk concerning the future of pest control in relation to New Zealand's "Mega Mast" events.


Braided River Pest Control Talk - Glenorchy

The Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust is hosting a talk about braided river birds and pest control. Everyone is invited to come to Glenorchy Hall, 7pm Friday 23rd November, to hear from Dean Nelson of DOC Twizel, who will be talking about pest control on Tasman River. This very successful programme is aimed at saving the endangered black stilt - kaki,  as well as other braided river birds - black fronted terns and black billed gulls.

Peninsula Bay Reserve

Peninsula Bay Reserve

Peninsula Bay Reserve Field Trip

On the 23rd of September 2018 we hosted a field trip of the Peninsula Bay North Reserve in Wanaka.



Know the Enemy Workshop

Know the Enemy

Courtesy of Alpine Research 'Stoating Around'

On July the 14th Central Otago Lakes Branch of Forest & Bird hosted an array of guests for a trapping workshop in Wanaka. In total 13 speakers were present at the event providing insight on a range of topics including animal behaviours, trapping methods and the human effort put into managing projects for the future. Special thanks goes to Andrew Penniket for organising the workshop.

Dr Rebecca Stirnemann Visit

Dr Rebecca Stirnemann

Dr Rebecca Stirnemann setting up a remote bird monitoring recorder in an alpine area

In June 2018 the branch hosted Dr Rebecca Stirnemann in Wanaka. During the week she made several visits to schools and spoke at a public forum. Her talk foccussed on her work in Samoa and her input to the recent legal case of the Motiti Island Trust v The Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Rebecca also visited Makaroa and advised on the possibility of remote monitoring of bird populations.


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