Conservation countdown — our top stories of 2022

Department of Conservation —  01/01/2023

We take a look back and count down some of the biggest conservation stories from 2022...

Taranaki mounga

10. Taranaki Crossing coming along

The Taranaki Crossing is a project within the Egmont National Park with the aim of connecting and upgrading a series of walking tracks around the mountain/mounga.

A total of 25 kilometres of tracks will be improved – creating a mix of short walks, day walks and the foundation for a multi-day walking experience at Taranaki Maunga. 

Find out more:

Sounds of Science

9. Our award winning podcast!

Our Sounds of Science podcast offers a behind-scenes-look at how our staff care for and protect New Zealand’s native species and natural environment. This year our podcast series won a Bronze Award at the New Zealand Podcast Awards. Listen to our latest episode on kauri disease:


8. Whitebait ch-ch-changes

Whitebait regulations had not changed since the 1990s and were long overdue for review. The new regulations will improve the fishery’s sustainability by reducing fishing pressure on whitebait species and native fish bycatch.

The new regulations have increased equity of catching opportunities for recreational, low-volume fishers by standardising regulations across the country. Find out more:

Loo with a view

7. Our epic loos with views

We’re pretty proud of our loos here at DOC. We manage over 2,000 toilets, including some with the best views in the country.

However, many remote wild places in Aotearoa don’t have toilets, so remember to always go before you start your trip and if you’re heading out for a longer walk, be properly prepared and never say no to a loo if you see one. Read more about toileting in the backcountry:

Kiwi. Photo: Sabine Bernert

6. Kiwi roaming Wellington’s hills

The Capital Kiwi Project reached an exciting new stage this year with 11 North Island brown kiwi released into a predator-free area on the hills above Makara. 

The Capital Kiwi Project’s mission is to restore a large-scale wild kiwi population to Wellington’s backyard.

The big hillsides in the south and west of our capital city remain prime nohoanga/habitat for kiwi – mānuka and gorse provide plenty of shelter and ample kiwi tucker. The amazing predator control programme in the area has made this all possible. Find out more:

Milford Track

5. 30 years of Great Walks

The opening of the 2022–23 Great Walks booking season this year heralded 30 years of epic adventures in our own backyard thanks to our Great Walks.

Great Walks are New Zealand’s most popular multi-day hikes, providing unparalleled access to some of the country’s most incredible natural landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage. These immersive nature experiences have become a popular drawcard for both domestic and international visitors, supporting nearby communities. Find out more:

Kākāriki karaka.
Orange-fronted parakeet

4. Saving kākāriki karaka

A newly established Jobs for Nature project has been protecting Aotearoa’s rarest mainland forest bird in a Canterbury valley this year. Thanks to a joint effort between Ngāi Tahu and the Department of Conservation, meaningful strides have been made in the protection of this critically endangered taonga. Find out more:

Seal break-in

3. The seal-y crime of breaking and entering

A curious young seal has been returned to the sea after breaking into a Tauranga home, harassing the resident cat, hanging about in the hallway for a couple of hours while the children slept upstairs, and miraculously ruining nothing. Find out more:


2.Conservation Dog recruit Blaze

Blaze is a 6-month-old Cocker Spaniel that has become our latest Conservation Dog recruit.

Blaze is on his way to becoming a rodent detection dog, meaning that once certified, he will have an important job sniffing out rats and mice in a wide variety of situations. Find out more:


1. Kākāpō population booms!

It’s official, the kākāpō population is now at a record 252, the highest it’s been in almost 50 years! In August the latest additions to the population were officially counted and the full results of the boomer breeding season were realised.

The flightless, nocturnal parrot is a taonga of Ngāi Tahu and a species unique to New Zealand. They breed only every two to four years when rimu trees produce enough fruit. Find out more:

We’re hoping for a bigger and brighter year for conservation and recreation in 2023!