Predator trapping in New Zealand
Predators such as stoats, rats, ferrets and possums pose huge threats to native, endemic and threatened species throughout New Zealand.
As many as 27 kiwis are killed by predators every single week, and in areas where predator control is not in place, 95 per cent of kiwi will die before reaching breeding age (compared with 50-60 per cent in controlled areas).
In order to protect the kiwi and countless other species in New Zealand, predator trapping is a vital key. This is the process of trapping pests in order to remove them from the environment, and it is carried out by the Department of Conservation, by interested community groups, and even by homeowners throughout New Zealand.
One of New Zealand’s most audacious goals is to create a predator-free environment throughout the country by 2050. If we are to reach this goal and protect our most threatened species, trapping will play a huge role in this endeavour.
How it works
The trap and the bait will often depend on the predator itself. For example, Predator Free New Zealand offers guides for catching rats, stoats, ferrets and possums, including which traps are best for each case. The Department of Conservation also offers multiple YouTube videos on how to set traps.
While some areas focus on removing as many predators as possible, others keep predators out completely. For example, the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society (TOSSI) location is a favourite spot for our New Zealand eco tours, as this is one of the few places where we can see kiwis thriving in the wild on our Tawharanui nature tours.
If you’d like to get involved, take a look at the community map by Predator Free NZ to join the work of local groups and learn more about trapping.
On tour: Tawharanui after dark
While there is something special about every eco tour in New Zealand, there’s just one that will introduce you to some of the country’s nocturnal creatures and critters in Tawharanui.
The Tawharanui Day-Night Tour from Auckland starts in the afternoon, then spends the next few hours heading out of the city and stopping at a few incredible locations on the way to the Tawharanui Regional Park. Here, you’ll enjoy a stunning beachside picnic dinner and a rest as the sun goes down.
After dark, the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society (TOSSI) becomes a different world of nocturnal beings – which is why it’s the perfect time for a nature tour of a different sort!
Here are a few of the night-time creatures you might expect to see on an after-dark eco tour in Tawharanui:
Also known as the ruru, the morepork is one of New Zealand’s only owl species, and is the only one native to the country. While they can be found throughout the country, they can be tough to spot due to their night-time habits and camouflage appearance.
The weta is a spindly, surprising large known for their large bodies and long, curved tusks. As an endemic species, they’re one of the country’s most iconic creepy-crawlies, and it’s always fun to introduce visitors to this invertebrate. While they might look a bit scary, they won’t harm humans and are perfectly safe to be around.
The long-finned eel
The long-finned eel is New Zealand’s only endemic eel species, and it also happens to be the largest. They can usually be found in rivers and lakes, although their decline in population numbers has made it increasingly difficult to spot one of these underwater creatures.
There are thousands of species of centipede in the world, and in New Zealand they can be something of a pest for home gardens. A night-time tour in Tawharanui might introduce you to one, and you may even spot a Giant Centipede, which is a species native to New Zealand.
Perhaps most exciting of all possible encounters on a night-time eco tour is the chance to spot a kiwi. This iconic flightless bird is endemic in New Zealand, and it’s extremely rare to see one outside of zoos in their native habitat. We see kiwis approximately 70 per cent of the time on our tours to Tawharanui, and it takes a lot of skill and knowledge to know just where to look – and how to not frighten these timid birds away! Kiwis only come out at night, and their small size, quiet habits and brown feathers make them tough to spot, but it’s always an exciting occasion when we do.
There are plenty more animals and creatures you might encounter on a night-time tour to Tawharanui, and the good news is that New Zealand is home to zero dangerous species such as venomous snakes – which just leaves the fun and incredible ones for us to spot!
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist