Archives For Blue Duck

The Taupo Fishery team is working on an exciting project to bring captive bred whio/blue duck to the Tongariro National Trout Centre near Turangi and to prepare them for life in the wild.

Adult whio/blue duck standing on a rock by a river in the wild.

Adult whio/blue duck in the wild

A new whio hardening facility is being opened which will provide a safe environment for young birds from the whio captive breeding programme to develop their white water skills before they are released into the wild.

Sign for the  whio hardening facility at the National Tongariro Trout Centre.

Whio hardening facility coming soon

Construction of the hardening facility began in April and will hopefully be completed by August. The project involves the conversion of an old water raceway into a stretch of fast flowing river complete with rocks and gravel to mimic a natural stream bed.

Conversion of the raceway at the National Tongariro Trout Centre.

Raceway conversion

Young whio need to develop the strength to tackle fast flowing rivers which will be their home in the wild, and this new facility will act as their gymnasium.

Liner laid down for the whio hardening facility.

Liner for the whio hardening facility

The facility will also be a retirement home for some of the older birds that have played an important part in DOC’s breeding programme.

Whio that are too old to breed or to adjust to life in the wild will have a safe home to live out the rest of their lives.

Rocks and gravel laid down to mimic a stream bed.

Rocks and gravel to mimic a stream bed

This project is part of the Whio Forever partnership between DOC and Genesis Energy to save New Zealand’s unique whio/blue duck.

Follow updates about the whio hardening facility on the Taupo Trout Fishery Facebook page.

Last month we told the story of the Nina Valley ‘Ecoblitz’ — a monumental collaboration involving scientists, senior high school students, university students, teachers, and helpers working together to discover and document the species of North Canterbury’s Nina Valley and surrounds.

Today, we’re happy to report of their recent (earlier this week) success at the Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon Awards — taking out both the ‘Supreme winner’ and the ‘Communication and education’ awards.

Well done to everyone involved in this inspiring event!

Another exciting Green Ribbon win was the Genesis Energy Whio Recovery Programme, which took out the ‘Protecting our biodiversity’ award.

This five-year partnership between Genesis Energy, DOC, Forest & Bird and the Central North Island Blue Duck Charitable Trust is all about the protection and recovery of whio, which are rarer than some species of kiwi.

By working with Genesis Energy on this programme, we are able to do more work to protect the whio and provide practical and immediate on-the-ground benefits for these threatened birds.

Both these projects show what New Zealanders can achieve by working together to preserve our outstanding natural wealth.

Captain Whio on the computer.

Finger-clicking good, Captain Whio

Captain Whio (aka Biodiversity Ranger Tim Allerby) and his trusted side-duck, Duck Girl (Community Relations Ranger Moana Smith-Dunlop) have been tracking their arch-nemesis, Sinister Stoat, for some time. Thanks to their super powers, amazing whio tracking devices, and the sophisticated Stoat Proximity Alarm, the whiotastic superheroes have tailed the sneaky mustelid all the way from Fiordland, to Waikaremoana, Ohuka and eventually Ruakituri. They have the map with pins on to prove it!

Children at Waikaremoana, Ohuka and Ruakituri Schools first came to Captain Whio’s attention as passionate whio fans when they stunned the superhero judges with their entries for an art competition run in the Te Urewera Whirinaki Area as part of Whio Awareness Month. The competition, inspired by the Whio Forever project, a whiotastic partnership between DOC and Genesis Energy, showed such awesome awareness and creativity from the children in the three schools that the caped duo were keen to meet the artists themselves.

Captain Whio with Ruakituri students.

Ruakituri superheroes

The urgency of the superheroes’ mission meant there was no time to waste. The children watched shocking footage of Sinister Stoat stealing eggs from whio nests the length of Aotearoa.

Ranger-reporter Jane from DOC seized the moment (and a microphone) and, with the children’s help, interviewed the caped heroes.

Captain Whio and students tracking down the stoat.

How to track whio – at Ohuka School

Captain Whio was describing whio’s webbed umbrella feet, juju lips (beautifully demonstrated by Duck Girl) and prominent yellow eyes, when suddenly the Stoat Proximity Alarm on his Utility Belt went off.

Captain Whio and Duck Girl immediately hot-footed it outside. The fledgling superheroes swiftly followed their mentors to see where Sinister Stoat was lurking.

Captain Whio and students looking for Sinister Stoat.

Hot on Sinister Stoat’s trail at Ohuka School

Earlier, Captain Whio and Duck Girl had planted a couple of stoat traps in cunning places. The first trap was empty, but nearby was a perfectly formed stoat poo. Could it be from Sinister Stoat himself?

The children watched, aghast, as Duck Girl dipped her finger in the poo, sniffed it and stuck it in her mouth. After carefully savouring it, thanks to her specially modified taste-buds she identified the poo, and declared it as originating from…none other than…Sinister Stoat himself. (Gasp!)

Captain Whio and Duck Girl tasting the fake stoat poo.

Duck Girl taste tests

Stealthily, Captain Whio, Duck Girl and their duckling entourage advanced on the next trap.  There was a stoat in it! Yes! Thwack! Could it be Sinister Stoat? Could Captain Whio finally rest from his travails?

Not just yet, Captain Whio.… After close inspection from Duck Girl, it was revealed that the lifeless body in the trap was one of Sinister Stoat’s henchmen and not the slippery egg-stealer himself. Sinister Stoat was still at large….

But, Sinister Stoat, if you are reading this, Captain Whio has a message for you:

“Be afraid, Stoaty, very afraid…. We superwhioheroes are not alone: we have the kids of Waikaremoana, Ohuka and Ruakituri, who are sworn whio fans, educated and dangerous … and they are out to protect whio from you!”

A whio swimming in a fast flowing river.

A whio safe from stoats.


Whio Forever

Check out the Whio Forever website to find out more about whio and the partnership between DOC and Genesis Energy to secure the future of the whio/blue duck, one of our most endangered birds ever