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Key Conservation Projects

We are proud to be a part of the following Conservation Projects to help restore and protect New Zealand's natural environment. 

The kākāriki karaka translocation project

The kākāriki karaka needs protection urgently.

Introduced predators such as stoats, rats, possums, and cats reduced what was once a thriving bird species to approximately 350 remaining in the wild.

The kākāriki karaka’s population needs help stabilising. RealNZ, the Department of Conservation, and Ngāi Tahu have collaborated on a translocation project, moving, and establishing a colony of the orange-fronted parakeet on Pukenui Anchor Island, a haven for the birds.

Cooper Island Restoration Project

Since 2015, RealNZ has been working on this long-term project to remove predators from Cooper Island - the third largest island in Dusky Sound.  The initiative sees RealNZ join the Department of Conservation’s Tamatea/Dusky Sound Restoration Programme; sharing its vision to make Dusky Sound one of the most intact ecosystems in the world.  RealNZ is proud to play a part in helping make this ambitious vision a reality.

Walter Peak Land Restoration Project

In February 2015 RealNZ embarked on a large scale restoration project at Walter Peak to ensure that the land continues to have an authentically New Zealand feel.

Almost 90 hectares of wilding Douglas Fir are being removed by logging or spraying in partnership with the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCCG) and Department of Conservation.  A further 30 hectares of land will be cleared of invasive weeds such as broom, gorse and hawthorne.

The Walter Peak Land Restoration Project is a significant investment in conservation by RealNZ and the move is strategically significant in the fight against the invasive wilding trees that are spreading across the region.

Pockets of native bush will be planted on the Von Hill Peninsula including mountain and red beech, kowhai, cabbage trees, rata and pittosporum, and the land will eventually include walking and bike trails.

Predator-Free Rakiura

RealNZ’s Chief Conservation Officer, Paul Norris is also chair of the Rakiura Predator-Free Group which has an ambitious goal to rid Rakiura/Stewart Island of introduced predators to help more than 20 threatened species.  The project aims to get rid of rats, possums, feral cats and hedgehogs and is one of the most complex projects of its type anywhere in the world. 

In 2019 RealNZ supported and signed a memorandum of understanding along with 12 other stakeholder groups, to support the vision to make Rakiura Stewart Island predator-free.  The project has now been given Department of Conservation funding to enable it to move to the next phase of planning and design.

In partnership with Rakiura Maori Lands Trust RealNZ undertake rat trapping with A24s and Victor snap traps at Ocean Beach. The Stewart Island Ferry terminals also have rodent bait stations and traps and ferries are checked weekly.

Birds of a Feather Conservation Ball

Our annual Birds of a Feather Conservation Ball black-tie event that we host with 100% of the ticket price goes towards a conservation initiative. Since its launch in 2015, the Birds of a Feather Charity Ball has raised almost $515,000 for conservation. After a three year break in the wake of Covid-19, we were delighted to return in 2023 to raise a record amount of money for the Kākāriki Karaka Translocation Project

  • 2023 - $175,000 raised for the Kākāriki Karaka Translocation Project
  • 2019 - $54,000 raised for the Cardrona Kārearea Conservation Project
  • 2018 - $85,000 raised for the Dusky Sound Restoration Project in partnership with DoC
  • 2017 - $100,000 raised for the Wakatipu Wildlife Trust and Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust
  • 2016 - $65,000 raised for Dusky Sound Restoration Project in partnership with DoC
  • 2015 - $35,0000 raised fo DoC Kākāpō Recovery Team

Whio Blue Duck Recovery Programme

RealNZ contributes approximately $10,000 per year towards the Whio Blue Duck recovery programme undertaken by the Department of Conservation.  Blue Duck/Whio numbers have been steadily declining in Fiordland over the last 30 years. Introduced stoats are a major cause in this decline as they prey on Whio.

The programme works through egg recovery, chick rearing and re-release to boost Whio populations in areas where there is stoat control.

In March 2015, three young Whio (Blue Duck) were successfully transferred to Mt Aspiring National Park. The rare native ducklings were caught by DOC rangers near the Milford Track and flown by helicopter from Fiordland National Park (where Whio have been breeding successfully) to a valley close to the Routeburn Track.
This was just the first of what is hoped will be several Whio relocations, funded by RealNZ.


The Kārearea Project

The kārearea is New Zealand’s only native falcon species and is at home in the mountains of the South Island.

There is a significant knowledge gap in our scientific understanding of kārearea in the alpine environment which inhibits conservation management. The Kārearea Project, lead by RealNZ through Cardrona Alpine Resort, aims to collect more data about the kārearea in order to understand how best to protect it. The magnificent Cardrona Valley has a small population of kārearea and presents an opportunity to develop a science-based conservation approach in tussock grassland mountain ecosystems. An integral component of this project is education and community engagement, with local schoolchildren, residents, and visitors to the region being introduced to the kārearea through multiple platforms.

'Putangi' Conservation Wine

A delicious drop is about to make you feel even better.

In 2022, RealNZ and local Central Otago winery, Wet Jacket Wines, collaborated to bring Fiordland guests the ‘Putangi’ Conservation Wine. So even when you’re drinking a delicious Pinot Noir on one of our vessels, you’re still doing good.

For every bottle of Putangi sold, $10 will go towards a conservation project, either in Patea Doubtful Sound, or Piopiotahi Milford Sound. If you’re enjoying the Putangi in Doubtful Sound, the money will go directly to the traplines on Bauza Island. If you’re in Milford Sound, the money will go to checking the traplines along Harrison Cove.

Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation

We donate a portion of every ticket to Patea Doubtful Sound to the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation. This means each year our passengers contribute more than $60,000 simply by choosing to travel to Doubtful Sound with us!

Projects supported by the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation include dolphin research, protection programmes for endangered birds, track and interpretation signage, outdoor education camps and wilding pine eradication.