Treetops to Traps

03 April 2023
Development West Coast
Collaborative conservation initiative enables West Coast visitors to give back to the local environment.

In a joint effort to preserve native flora and fauna, West Coast Treetop Walkway and Zipline has teamed up with Hokitika Scenic Tours with an innovative conservation initiative. The project involves selling native trees and using the proceeds to purchase and install humane automated traps in the forests surrounding the West Coast Treetop Walkway just outside of Hokitika.

The traps are designed to control invasive species that threaten native birdlife and trees, thereby protecting agriculture, wildlife, and private property from the destruction and disease caused by introduced predators. "We ask $10 for every native seedling sold and that money goes to buying predator traps that we put in and around the Treetop Walkway and other places of need," said Rachel Wright from Hokitika Scenic Tours.

Hokitika Scenic Tours specialises in guided tours showcasing the unique landscapes and stories of the West Coast. Rachel said the initiative has received an overwhelmingly positive response from both locals and international supporters, now borders have reopened.

“We’ve had a lot of support from people buying the trees to help with predator control,” Rachel said. “People are also learning about native trees and wildlife, and the impact predators can have.”

"Out of respect to the mana whenua we work alongside local Iwi in choosing the different native seedlings for placement at the Treetop Walk."

Customers can choose from a variety of native trees, including kahikatea, manuka, totara, NZ flax (harakeke), or wineberry plants. These trees are either planted at the Treetop Walkway or taken home to gardens across New Zealand as a memory of what they have done.

Rachel gifting Doug Cherry 3 new traps
Rachel (Hokitika Scenic Tours) gifts Doug Cherry (West Coast Treetop Walkway) three new traps.

The idea for the initiative emerged during the COVID lockdown, as Rachel sought innovative ways to support predator control in the area. After discussing the idea with her friend Vonnie Cherry from the Treetop Walkway and Zipline, the partnership was born.

West Coast Treetop Walkway and Zipline provides visitors with an exhilarating adventure amongst the temperate rainforest giants. The walkway features a 450-meter-long steel platform situated 20 meters above the ground, as well as a thrilling 425-meter zipline through the Jurassic-looking rimu and kamahi tree canopy.

Vonnie mentioned that visitors enjoy experiencing the birdlife at the Treetop Walkway. "We've already observed a significant increase in bird numbers since the trapping project began."

Nestled among the towering ancient trees, you can encounter and listen to tūī, kererū, and bellbirds. A cantilever viewing platform extends towards the scenic Lake Mahinapua, offering a chance to observe black swans, grey and mallard ducks and, during their season, the graceful kōtuku (white herons) gliding along the reed-fringed lake.

The predator-trapping initiative is helping wildlife and plant life flourish in the area.

"We are immensely grateful to all the visitors who have participated in this initiative, as their support directly contributes to safeguarding our native flora and fauna,” Rachel said.

Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne said the collaboration between Hokitika Scenic Tours and West Coast Treetop Walkway and Zipline is a great example of regenerative tourism.

“The initiative provides an opportunity for guests to give back to the region, providing an avenue to engage with the local ecosystem in a meaningful way, while helping protect our untamed natural wilderness.”

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