In 2022, volunteer Peter Coburn began the initial predator control efforts along the Kawatiri Coastal Trail by installing his own personal traps in the boardwalk area of the Pūwaha section of the KCT. Since then, the KCT team, with assistance from some experienced community volunteers have established a further trapping line on the Omau section and most recently, laid traps throughout the Ōkari section of the trail.
These volunteers have committed over 200 hours in the past year to pest management and have successfully eradicated over 100 predators throughout these three sections.
Camera surveillance conducted earlier this year in the Ōkari section of the trail revealed a high number of harmful pests in the area, including stoats, rats, goats, deer, and wasps. Despite the high number of predators, the native birdlife has managed to survive, including a small but significant population of roroa. After capturing the first roroa on camera, these precious birds have since been frequently spotted on trail cams. For years local farmers and residents of the Ōkari have been aware of the presence of roroa and have initiated their own predator controls to help protect the species. Footage captured suggests the population may be more than first presumed and a kiwi listening survey conducted in September confirmed at least 5 pair of kiwi and 3 single calls between the Tōtara and Tauranga Bay area.
One particularly special kiwi, affectionately known as ‘One-Eye’ or ‘Tahi’ has become something of a global sensation, since the sharing of this footage to the KCT Facebook page. The most recent post has received over 50,000 views worldwide, emphasizing the kiwi’s appeal well beyond New Zealand.
The Elusive Roroa
The great spotted kiwi or roroa is the tallest kiwi species, at about 45 centimetres. Today, they are found in three discrete natural populations: northwest Nelson, the Paparoa Range, and near Arthur’s Pass. Birds have also been transferred to Lake Rotoiti mainland island in the Nelson Lakes National Park.
The roroa that occupy the lowlands around the Kawatiri Coastal Trail are an extension of the Paparoa population i.e south of the Buller River, with their main concentration on the Paparoa Range. The roroa habitat between Tōtara and Tauranga Bay is a remnant forest that was once contiguous with the upland areas of the Paparoa Range. The Kawatiri Coastal Trail and the team of volunteers that have started predator control focussed around these areas, will help ensure that these precious birds are able to thrive. The opportunity for trail-users to experience hearing, or perhaps seeing, roroa offers a unique trail experience, and will foster a real appreciation and connection with our local environment.