Archives For Nelson

By Trish Grant, Communications Advisor, Nelson

The battle against the great white butterfly pest appears to be working with detections dropping by more than fifty percent in autumn this year, compared to autumn last year.

The species is only found in the Nelson/Tasman region and DOC has been leading a programme to eradicate the pest out of concern for the threat it poses to our endangered native cresses. Successful eradication of the butterfly would be a world-first.

Ranger Graeme Helleur holding a butterfly. Photo: Sally Leggett.

Catching butterflies is all in a day’s work for the team

The Nelson eradication team’s drive and determination will be a key factor in achieving that success. An example of that determination was on display recently when four of the team armed with nets chased a darting biggish white butterfly through at least five properties, across the road, and up and down hills, determined not to let it escape their clutches. Finally Ranger Maddie netted it. It proved to be an important catch: a female great white butterfly full of eggs that could have set up a new infestation in an area where butterfly finds had become few.

A female great white butterfly on a leaf.

Female great white butterflies can lay up to 750 eggs

The team are not the only intrepid butterfly catchers. Team members searched gardens in one area for several days looking for a female butterfly suspected to be in the vicinity. It was duly presented to them dead by an elderly woman who in spite of poor eyesight had managed to trap the butterfly with a glass on the wall of her house.

This spring will be a pivotal time when the whole butterfly population emerges together from pupae, giving a good measure of its population status. DOC is working closely with the community to clear this major pest from the region and the country.


Rangers with nets at the ready in a large patch of wild brassicas that will be sprayed

The Nelson DOC team will be holding a great white butterfly family fun day on Sunday 28 September.

By Kath Inwood, Partnerships Ranger, Nelson

The Motueka sandspit is an internationally significant site for shorebirds, providing roosting and nesting space for variable oystercatchers and banded dotterel, and temporary lodgings for the bar-tailed godwit. Being so close to town, however, it is a popular spot for Motueka dog owners to walk their dogs.

A variable oystercatcher.

A variable oystercatcher

Ranger Ross with some dogs.

Ranger Ross and some of the dogs

To improve awareness of the birds in the area, we got together with Tasman District Council and Birds New Zealand to try out an Australian idea – the Dog’s Breakfast. This event provides dog owners an opportunity to learn about the birds of the foreshore and sandspit over a bacon and egg butty (sandwich).

Around 50 dog walkers turned out to breakfast with their dogs over a two and a half hour period on Saturday 8 March.

With the smell of sizzling bacon in the background, David Melville from Birds New Zealand explained that variable oystercatchers and banded dotterel are key inhabitants of the sandspit area, along with the better-known bar-tailed godwits, who make the 11,000km flight between New Zealand and Alaska.

The crowd at the Dog's breakfast.

The crowd gathers for the dog’s breakfast

The purpose of the breakfast was to raise awareness of dog owners about the significance of this area for shorebirds, and to enable them to be more informed about how they can minimise the disturbance to wildlife, while enjoying the benefits of an area such as this to walk their dogs.

Last week saw the theatrical release of the second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Filmed throughout New Zealand, these movies capture some of our most stunning landscapes.

Our photo of the week shows one of these landscapes: Canaan Downs, near the top of the Takaka Hill, in the Nelson region.

Canaan Downs, Golden Bay. Photo: Andy Maw (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Canaan Downs campsite is a popular place to stay in the area — perfect for a Hobbit holiday! It’s located near the entrances to a number of tracks in Abel Tasman National Park. Mountain biking, walking and tramping activities are all nearby.

This photo was taken by Andy Maw | CC BY-SA 2.0