Why we trap

Since our inception in 2017, we have grown from 6 trapping groups to over 70. 

At present we have over 1800 traps out in the region and in just a few short years have removed more than 6000 pests from the district. Considering that just one stoat or rat can destroy a whole nest of bird eggs, the impact of removing 6000 pests from the district means that tens of thousands of chicks stand a better chance of surviving to adulthood.

Just as important as the number of pests we’ve removed, is the number of people who have volunteered in doing their part to help make New Zealand predator-free. Our groups are made up of every age group, communities, neighbours, businesses, high country stations, and just about everything in between. We’re all united by a desire to help our wildlife.

We hope that this will make a difference to our native wildlife and our outstanding natural habitat, and that it will help make the Queenstown Lakes District achieve its goals. Waking up each day to the beautiful dawn chorus encourages us all to do our part.

What are Pests?

Pests are species that have been accidentally or intentionally introduced to New Zealand that threaten the health of our native ecosystems.

Their presence can cause catastrophic effects on the native environment, including preying on and competing with native species, and spreading disease to an already vulnerable ecosystem.

The Whakatipu Wildlife Trust concentrates on eradicating possums, rats, mustelids (ferrets, stoats and weasels) and hedgehogs. All of these species predate on birds and/or bird eggs. In some areas feral cats are also a concern. In order to protect native species, humane trapping is the primary mode of predator control.


Possum ©
Rat ©
Hedgehog ©
Ferret ©
Stoat ©
Weasel ©

To learn more about pests, check out The Department of Conservation’s excellent guide to Animal pests

Native species at risk

New Zealand’s historical isolation from other land masses has resulted in some of the world’s rarest and unique bird, reptilian and plant life. From the mischievous kea to the delightfully musical bellbird, these species regularly inspire wonder and are critical to New Zealand’s magnificent natural environment.

Unfortunately, due to their isolation from predators before pests such as rats and stoats were introduced, New Zealand species lack the defence mechanisms to avoid predators, resulting in devastating effects to populations. At least 51 bird species have been lost in New Zealand since the arrival of humans and introduced pests. Find out more here.

Threatened species in the Wakatipu Basin

There are a number of nationally threatened species present within the Wakatipu Basin that our trapping groups are helping to protect. These species live in a variety of unique habitats, from braided rivers, wetlands and beech forest, to alpine shrubland, tussock and grassland.

Some of our most threatened, at-risk bird species include:

  • Rock Wren
  • Möhua / Yellowhead
  • South Island Robin
  • Kākā
  • Kea
  • Karearea / New Zealand Falcon 
  • Whio / Blue Duck
  • Wrybill
  • Black-fronted Tern
  • Black-billed Gull
  • Banded Dotterel
  • South Island Pied Oystercatcher
  • Matuku / Australasian Bittern
  • Puteketeke / Australasian Crested Grebe
  • Buff Weka

Other animals are also at risk within the Wakatipu, including two species of bat (long-tailed and short-tailed) and many lizards and invertebrates. To learn more about New Zealand’s incredible native animals, see these great guides from The Department of Conservation.

Get involved

There are many ways to get involved – join us in the fight for the conservation of this beautiful ecosystem!

Find out more