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Fiordland National Park, formed in 1952, is New Zealand’s largest and arguably most spectacular, also holding UNESCO World Heritage Status. Covering 5% of New Zealand’s land mass it is the largest remaining wilderness area in the country. With only one road into the National Park (Milford Road) most of Fiordland remains wild and isolated; home to some of the country’s rarest birds and insects.
The isolation and natural history of the area, along with human habitation have created opportunity for some of New Zealand’s most significant, and internationally recognised conservation projects. This includes the Save the Lakes campaign in the 1960’s, Breaksea Island rat eradication (a world first) in the 1980’s and recently the award winning Kids Restore Kepler (in conjunction with the Fiordland Conservation Trust, DOC and Air NZ), plus blue duck, kakapo, kiwi and short tailed bat recovery. These heroic efforts have led to a decrease in stoat, rat, mice and possum populations and an increase in bird and insect life.
Although the Department of Conservation (DOC) have spearheaded many of these conservation efforts, it is true to say that just as many have been led and/or maintained by local people and organisations.
Trips & Tramps has been involved in a project at Milford Sound since 2003. Over the years it has expanded and today they maintain 140 traps at Milford Sound.
You may have noticed pink triangle markers on trees along roadsides and tracks. These markers denote where a trap is. The traps used are humane-kill and are housed in small wooden tunnels with an opening at one end. They are baited with a fresh hen’s egg and a piece of meat. The stoat or rat runs into the open end of the tunnel and across the trap toward the bait. Of course they never make it and are killed immediately as the steel jaw snaps shut. Traps are checked and reset every month. Across the 3.3 million acres that make up Fiordland there are literally hundreds of thousands of traps – some in quite difficult territory. You can imagine how labour intensive it is to manage them. That’s why local people have got in behind the trapping projects to try and keep the momentum high and hit the predators hard. Trips & Tramps often tie in their trap checks with daily coach and hiking trips – so you may get a first-hand (excuse the pun – we’ll keep your hands clear!) experience!
By travelling with locally owned companies you not only get the benefit of local knowledge but also the assurance that your support helps them support local conservation efforts – where you spend your money does make a difference!
Written: 10 articles
Our small group Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Walk from Te Anau explores spectacular alpine scenery, and includes a boat cruise on the fiord to the Tasman Sea. Experience firsthand this World Heritage area – take a small group trip with the locals.
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