Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 6 March 2009 Contents 6 March, 2009 | Page 7
HEN Johan Groters
and his wife Joyce Kolk
realised they could hear
more birdsong at their
Orawia farm than on their jet boat
tours up the Wairaurahiri River in
the Fiordland National Park they
felt they had to do something.
Stoats had significantly diminished
the bird population so they decided
to do their bit in an attempt to
reverse that by laying traps along
their route and encouraging their
tourists to take an active role.
In a unique twist to eco-tourism,
they called for donors to pay $225
to sponsor a trap for two years.
Sponsors of a trap would get a
free jet boat ride. Companies
sponsoring 10 traps get a trip
and accommodation provided
by Waitutu Incorporation – along
with the honorary title of “Good
Since starting the project in June
2006 Wairaurahiri Jet’s project
has been responsible for catching
and killing more than 230 stoats
and more than 90 rats in 89 traps
either side of the Wairaurahiri. At
Teal Bay more than 50 stoats have
been caught in a single trap.
The cost of sponsoring a trap is the
same as the jet boat tour price yet
many customers do not take up the
trap option and around 80 percent
of trap sponsors so far have not
taken the boat ride. Television
coverage of their work had resulted
in calls from people all over the
country wanting to sponsor traps,
Kiwi ingenuity and some number
8 wire meant a pink flag went up
when a trap had been activated.
These could be seen from the river
and only the activated ones cleared
and rebaited, saving time and
The traps are now checked as a
routine part of the tours, regardless
of whether those on board are
sponsors. It had proved to be a
really educational addition to the
trip and the reaction from tourists
was brilliant, Joyce said.
“People are very supportive and
very keen. They don’t start out that
way but they end up that way,” she
“It’s amazing how many people
turn into blood-thirsty stoat killers
by the end of it.”
While successful, the couple were
realistic about the influence their
project was having.
“It’s never going to eradicate
stoats,” Joyce said. “But I think
it’s made a difference to them
because we have started catching
The significance of that was that
stoats eat rats as well as birds,
implying the trapping has had an
impact on the stoat population.
Because bush growth sometimes
hid the traps from easy view, work
had now begun to map all the trap
sites by GPS.
Quiet and timid tourists venturing on a Western
Southland jet boat ride are returning from the
tour as blood-thirsty killers – but it’s all for a
very good cause.
Eco tourism with a twist
Eco tourism with a twist
Such had been the success of the Wairaurahiri
project that Johan and Joyce, with support from
Landcare Trust and Environment Southland,
have spearheaded plans to expand it onto the
South Coast Track.
The first sponsors – Maori landowners in
the area – had already come on board and
volunteers, including Joyce, had offered to walk
the track regularly to clear and reset the traps.
Traps would be laid every 200m along the track
from the Wairaurahiri River to the Percy Burn
viaduct. The Hump Ridge Track Trust had shown
an interest in continuing the programme from
Before the traps were laid it was hoped a
formal bird count could be done to measure
the success of the programme at a later date –
something that had not been done before work
started along the Wairaurahiri. However, the cost
was quite high and funding would have to be
secured before it could go ahead.
While the success of the Wairaurahiri work was
difficult to quantify, Joyce and Johan said their
reward had come in the feedback they had
received from hunters and trampers who had
noticed increased bird numbers.
“It’s been very humbling to listen to the people
who ring up and to read the emails.”
ABOVE LEFT: Johan Groters
with a group of tourists on his
Wairaurahiri River tour.
ABOVE: Johan Groters with
another successful kill on Lake
LEFT: Education about the
importance of pest control
is now playing a big part in
Wairaurahiri Jet’s tours.
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