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Tamatea Restoration

Fiordland is a huge area so people must work together to help restore it. On this field trip we will see how Tamatea/Dusky Sound is being restored.


DOC, volunteers and businesses like Pure Salt are working together to restore Tamatea. Image: Pure Salt.

Looking after Fiordland is a huge task which does not just fall on the Department Of Conservation but is helped by the community and businesses that work there. This includes Pure Salt who will be taking us on a multi-day voyage in Tamatea/Dusky Sound.

The Tamatea/Dusky Sound restoration plan is a 30-year project with the goals of:

  • eradicating pests
  • re-introducing missing species
  • improving knowledge of species living in the area.

The project area includes Breaksea Sound, Acheron Passage, Wet Jacket Arm, and Tamatea/Dusky Sound itself, including over 700 islands.


The vision is for Tamatea/Dusky Sound to be one of the most intact ecosystems on Earth, and New Zealand's largest ‘bio bank’ – a source of endangered native species that can be sent to pest-free locations throughout the country.

The Tamatea/Dusky Sound restoration plan has the ambitious goals of eradicating pests and re-introducing species that once flourished in the area.

The area is worth protecting. Tamatea is home to many unique plants and animals. It has lush native bush cover and relatively few weeds. Many of Tamatea/Dusky Sound’s islands have never been invaded by the introduced pests that now plague the mainland.

Trapping pests like this stoat is helping to bring bird song back to Tamatea. Image: LEARNZ.

Once islands are free of pests they act as sanctuaries that are easier to protect from invasion as they are surrounded by water. Some pests, such as rats can swim and stowaway on boats, so people still need to make regular checks of these islands and any boats that travel there.

The fiords have many nearshore islands. The more islands that are made predator-free the lower the risk of predators being re-introduced.

Richard Henry was the caretaker of Resolution Island, New Zealand’s first island wildlife sanctuary. Between 1894 and 1900, Henry transferred over seven hundred kākāpō and kiwi from the mainland to Resolution and surrounding islands.

Although the Resolution Island project failed when predators invaded in 1900, the many observations made by Richard Henry have helped with modern bird conservation, particularly the kākāpō recovery programme.

In 2008 the Department of Conservation began removing pests from Resolution Island allowing endangered birds to be brought back to Resolution Island.

Creating pest free island sanctuaries gives native species a safe place to live and creates a 'bio bank'. Image: Pure Salt.

Mamaku/Indian Island

Pure Salt has started a project to remove rats from Mamaku/Indian Island in Tamatea. This will help protect native species on the island and reduce the risk of rats swimming to nearby rat-free islands.

Pure Salt aims to reduce the rat population to undetectable levels to allow future translocations of native species. This will also help with the overall restoration.

Pure Salt has cut over 17km of track-lines, creating a network of 200 traps which they regularly check and maintain. Tracking-tunnels, motion cameras and a new app are used to monitor predator numbers.

In the future, stoat-lines on Long Island are planned to further protect Resolution as well as Anchor Island. This work is already underway.

Audio Māori keywords:

Why do you think we need both island and mainland sanctuaries where predators have been removed?