22nd September 2021

Tucker Beach Wildlife Reserve Project

The Tucker Beach Wildlife Management Reserve covers 150 hectares of Department of Conservation land straddling a large bend in the Lower Shotover River. For many years the 60 hectares on the true right of the Reserve was completely degraded It was overgrown with conifers, broom and lupins and used as a dumping ground for cars, household furniture and rubbish. People felt unsafe walking, cycling or picnicing there.

Threatened migratory birds such as banded dotterels, black fronted terns and black-billed gulls lost important nesting habitats in the braided river gravels due to the invasion of woody noxious weeds and human activity.

In June 2017 a small number of local residents formed the Friends of Tucker Beach Wildlife Reserve. Our vision is to restore the biodiversity of this special area. An Ecological Restoration plan was prepared by Dawn Palmer, (Natural Solutions for Nature), Neil Simpson, (Conservation Consultancy) and Anne Steven Landscape Architect. It contained the specific objectives of managing noxious weeds, pests and predators. We hope to protect the habitats of nationally endangered bird species and create native vegetation areas and wildlife corridors to attract native birds, insects, lizards and other invertebrates back to the area.

DoC helped with the removal of 7 car wrecks from the Reserve and other commercial and household rubbish was cleared in a community clean-up day in September 2017.

Cycle trail

The Rotary Club of Queenstown formed at he Tucker Beach cycle trail at the Eastern end of the reserve. Supported by the Queenstown Trails Trust, it was opened in October 2018. This trail proved to be a popular walking and cycling trail but remained heavily overgrown with noxious weeds.

In 2019 DoC funded work to clear larger areas of broom and buddleia adjacent to the river.  In 2020, a Workforce Alliance crew cleared large tracts alongside the Queenstown trail and adjacent to the western car park area. 1400 natives were planted over three community planting days in September 2020, with generous support from both the local community and the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust and volunteers.

Predator Control

A Friends of Tucker beach sponsored a programme of predator control, monitoring and trapping in September 2018 with 45 traps. The trap network was doubled in the winter of 2020 with the help of the Workforce Alliance crew. A total of 87 traps now protect the fauna of the Reserve on both sides of the River.

The Tucker Beach trapping efforts have so far removed a total of 56 mustelids, 130 rats, 30 hedgehogs and 3 cats.

Ongoing Work

In May 2021 the Friends of Tucker Beach Wildlife Reserve received Department of Conservation “Jobs for Nature” funding, to accelerate the biodiversity restoration in the Reserve. We created 14 full-time equivalent employment roles during the 3-year project. GSD Workforce Ltd, a subsidiary of Bungy New Zealand, is managing this project. 18 hectares of weeds will be cleared and 5 hectares alongside the Queenstown Trail will be reinstated with native planting.

A tapu Nohonaga site within the Reserve is to be managed in the future after consultation with local iwi.

The birds are now back. Banded dotterel and blackfronted terns and the world’s rarest gull, the black billed gull are preparing to nest in this braided river habitat.

During the nesting season from August until February, the birds are easily disturbed. Dogs off leads and people walking and riding in the river gravels disturb the birds and threaten their successful breeding. We are respectfully asking people to keep away from the river gravels. Please stick to the well-marked trails and keep all dogs on leads during the nesting season.

The Friends of Tucker Beach are very grateful for the Jobs for Nature funding and Doc support. We are looking forward to building ongoing community support that enables us to continue with planting and clearance work for many years to come.

It’s great to see so many people now enjoying the amenity of the Reserve. It is an area of special ecological importance and a valuable community conservation area.

Rosemary Barnett, Friends of Tucker Beach

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