Wapiti Winter Weekend - Fri 30th Jun Sun 2nd Jul 2023
Fiordland Wapiti Foundation 2022 - 23

Conservation Projects

It’s also been a positive year on the conservation front. We have upgraded some of the 550 traps but still have quite a few to go.

The Nitz Valley has had an upgrade. Possum control has been done and there have been good numbers of whio seen in the area.

In the Lugar Burn we have had issues with kea damaging our traps. There were some concerns around kea safety, so we have painted the new traps in the valley with Anthraquinone (bird repellent) and it seems to have solved the problem.

The Worsley and Castle Valleys have had some track maintenance done. Fiordland has her own little weather thing going on and she has a habit of wrecking tracks and washing away traps, so maintenance is a moving target.

The Glaisnock trap line has old, single-set traps and we have started to replace them thanks to a very generous overseas donor.

Valleys Stoats Rats
Upper Worsley 19 15
Lower Worsley 13 26
Castle 6 16
Upper Glaisnock 6 16
Nitz 5 0
Lugar Burn 18 1
Totals 67 74

Whio Survey

The Department of Conservation undertook a whio survey in each of the FWF valleys and the results were very positive.

Doc update on the survey: ‘The rivers were certainly nice and low, which made travel relatively easy.

It was warmer than we would like though as the birds hide away even more than normal, and it was hard on the dogs. All dogs came up lame after a couple of big days, which is unusual. Usually, we would do three big days to achieve that.

Sore paws means that the dogs aren’t quite as keen as we would like but they did continue to work.

  • Worsley Stream – 7 pairs, 1 x class 5 juvenile and 2 x class 2 ducklings. 3 single males.
  • Castle River – 4 pairs, 3 singles (2 males and 1 x unknown sex) and one lone juvenile. Dog interested in a couple of other spots also, so likely to be some more birds in there.
  • Nitz – going off. 6 pairs, 12 x class 5 juveniles and 6 x class 4 juveniles. 6 singles (3 females, 1 male and 2 unknown sex). That’s 36 birds seen in the Nitz.
    We did drop a dog team off on the flat partway down the gorge and they located a couple of single females down there.
  • Glaisnock – 4 pairs, 3 x class 4 juveniles and 3 x class 5 juveniles. 3 singles (2 males and 1 unknown sex). The dogs were interested in a couple of other locations where they didn’t locate birds.
  • Lugar Burn – 2 pairs, 4 x class 3 ducklings. 1 single male. There was sign in another location where I have found birds before but didn’t locate them.

January is a good time to locate pairs with ducklings or juveniles but not the best time to locate all the pairs. Last year in January a dog team located five pairs in the Clinton West Branch from Mintaro Hut to Hirere Shelter.

I went back in March and located 12 pairs in the same area. If they haven’t bred, they will often go into an early moult and can be a lot more difficult to locate, even with trained dogs. They will move further off the river or secrete themselves into holes that aren’t producing a lot of scent.’

The Te Anau DoC team plays a huge role in the success of our programmes in the Wapiti area and the FWF team really appreciates working with them.

Thanks Max and the team.


Kea-Gear Survey Over the years we have done some work with the Kea Conservation Trust and that work has led to the discovery of maybe the most buoyant population of kea in the South Island.

Contrary to some bad press around the negative interaction between mountain users and kea, Wapiti hunters generally get away with very little gear damage caused by the birds. Southern Alps users tend to attract more negative attention from kea.

Why is this? Yes, Wapiti hunters are generally nice people but there’s got to be more to it than this. Is it because Wapiti hunters are more nomadic and move around a lot? Do the Fiordland kea have less interaction with humans so they don’t relate humans to food? Maybe it’s the colour and texture of certain tents, flies or clothing.

We’ve got together with the KCT and the good buggers from Orson Outdoors Tents and together we’re going to come up with a survey for South Island mountain users to try and solve some of the kea-human interaction problems.

A plea to South Island mountain users: we are visitors to kea country; it’s their only habitat and yes, when you get back to camp and your stuff is damaged by kea there are health and safety issues that could lead to life-threatening situations but complaining will not change that.

Like all health and safety issues, planning is the key to a safe outcome. Don’t feed kea and don’t leave tents, flies, coats, sleeping bags or any gear that’s going to keep you alive, unattended.

So, when you see the Kea-Gear survey come out, please participate as it would be great to find some solutions to this problem.