Our main projects so far have been Project Rock Wren and Project Routeburn. We are now planning a new and exciting project to extend our predator control activities into the Dart and Rees rivers that flow from the mountains into Lake Wakatipu at Glenorchy. There are five bird species that use the rivers as a habitat and at risk of extinction.

  • Lake Sylvan traps

    In 2017 the Trust took over responsibility (from DOC) for maintaining the 34 single traps that form a trap line by Lake Sylvan in Mt Aspiring National Park. Using either rabbit or eggs for bait, we have a monthly roster, with one trustee or officer being responsible for the month. Access is straight forward – the first trap is just across the bridge at the Lake Sylvan car park

  • Project Routeburn

    There is an extensive network of traps along the Hollyford valley face and into the surrounding regions including the Harris Basin, linking with existing traps (including Project Rock Wren lines) to cover a large area. DOC Wakatipu & DOC Te Anau have set up a process so that money raised by the DOC warden, Evan Smith, at McKenzie Hut, comes to the RDWT; this supports trapping & monitoring programs in the Project Routeburn and Project Rock Wren areas

  • Project Rock Wren

    Since our start in 2013, we have bought traps for Project Rock Wren in the Routeburn valley, near the Harris Basin and along the Hollyford valley face; these contribute to the wider programme supported by DOC & Air New Zealand. Project Rock Wren and Project Routeburn overlap

  • Whio Recovery 2009-19

    The first priority of this plan was to secure a minimum of 400 pairs at eight secure sites in New Zealand by 2014, by controlling introduced predators and researching whio biology, threats and management needs. The second priority was to recover and re-establish populations throughout their former range at a number of recovery sites, of which the Dart/Routeburn/Caples area is one. In 2011 Genesis Energy announced a five year, $2.5 million partnership with DOC to implement the Whio Recovery Plan. This led to translocation of twenty whio to the Routeburn, Rockburn and Beansburn

  • Air NZ sponsorship 2012-17

    In 2012 Air New Zealand announced a major new sponsorship package with DOC to restore bird life and habitats at five key Great Walk sites, including the Routeburn Track. It was extended in 2013 to include several marine sites. 37km new lines of stoat traps were placed as a result of this funding in the Routeburn, Rockburn and Beansburn Valleys, with one trap every 200m, doubling the previous amount of traps. Two extra staff  were employed to install, check and re-bait them for the 2012-13 and 2103-14 seasons. The 2013/14 season’s work will increase the traps to one trap per 100m. These new stoat trap lines will improve the ability of whio in the Routeburn, Rockburn and Beansburn Valleys to survive. It will also prepare the area for re-introduction of whio, planned for the late 2014/15 summer

  • Natural Heritage Management System

    After Operation Ark DOC re-prioritised its work on species and ecosystems, as part of the new Natural Heritage Management System. The Dart and Routeburn Valleys are contained in what was re-classified as the Dart Ecological Management Unit. DOC has an annual operating budget of $50k operating plus 2 FTE staff for ongoing monitoring and trapping here. This work includes banding and transect and surveys, dog searches for whio and five-minute bird counts for all birds. Currently DOC’s South Island Pest Response Advisory Group (SIPRAG) provides contingency funding for pest control in rat and stoat plague years in the Dart and Routeburn Valleys, when monitoring demonstrates that this level of response is required.

  • Operation Ark 2004-10

    Heavy beech tree seed production (masting) and the consequent explosion of rat numbers occurs every few years in the South Island, usually when there is a warm summer the previous year. Due to the extra seeds (food), rat numbers explode; when this food runs out, the now very large rat population focuses on the birds. Monitoring of beech tree seed production and rat numbers help predict when these events will occur. Operation Ark (2004 – 2010 ) was a response to rat and stoat plagues in South Island beech forests. The Routeburn and Dart valleys were one of ten South Island sites selected for extra protection due to the nationally significant population of yellowhead (mohua) found here. Before Operation Ark the Routeburn, Dart and  Caples Valleys had stoat trapping lines, rat/mice/stoat monitoring tunnels and an annual bird monitoring programme. Operation Ark increased the number of monitoring tunnels, stoat trapping lines and established ground based rat poison bait stations. Aerial rat/stoat/possum poisoning operations are also done here after unusually heavy masting in the forest. Operation Ark gave us some valuable information:

    • Ground based rat trapping alone is ineffective in protecting threatened species in plague situations
    • Aerially broadcast poison and ground based bait stations reduce rat numbers enough to protect bird and bat numbers
    • Stoat trapping lines and networks along river valley floors keep stoat numbers down and allow protected species recovery
    • Translocation of whio can be succesful
    • The relationship between climate, beech seed and rat and stoat plagues is much clearer
Future Projects