Media release

Media release: Progress on wilding conifers and wallabies control programmes

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Progress continues with the Otago Regional Council’s wilding conifer and wallaby eradication programmes around Central Otago, with almost 6800 hectares of aerial and ground control of conifers expected this month alone in the Luggate management area.

For the 2021-2022 conifer control works season, a total more than 28,000 hectares of have been treated to date by aerial spray or ground works, including 374 ha of “dense infestations” around Queenstown Hill, Ben Lomond, Moke Lake and Skippers.

ORC councillors will be updated on the wide range of environmental projects currently underway at its Cromwell meeting of the Implementation Committee tomorrow, 9 June.

ORC Manager Environmental Implementation Andrea Howard says “good progress” continues to be made against the delivery plans for both the Whakatipu and Central Otago areas.

“Progress is going really well and to plan around the conifer controls. This month [June] alone there’ll be another almost 6800 hectares covered by ground and aerial work around the Luggate area,” she says.

Wilding conifers


The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme and Containing Wallabies to Protect Agriculture, Forestry and Native Plants programmes are two of four key projects, under Jobs for Nature, being lead by the ORC, under an umbrella of $22.5 million funding.


National Wilding Conifer Programme

Ms Howard’s report to councillors says Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group, in the Whakatipu Basin, is 88% of the way through its budget for the 2021-2022 season; with 2067 ha controlled by ground and a further 18,030 ha by aerial methods, either basal bark application, foliar spraying or boom spraying.

The boom spraying in February and March targeted the “dense infestations” around Queenstown.

For the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group, operations are progressing around the Alexandra, Rough Ridge, Dunstan, Lammermore and Naseby management areas, having used up 93% of the 2021-2022 budget, the report says.

Ground methods have controlled 967 ha and aerial basal bark spraying a further 2636 ha. Work on Community Partnership Projects at Maukaatua and the Kakanui Ranges have also been completed.

In the Luggate Control area, 4386 ha of the Pisa Range have been controlled by aerial bark basal spraying, with a further 5465 being targeted, plus 1333 ha of ground control work is planned for this month.


Wallaby search and eradication

From July last year to 30 April, 123,840 hectares have been searched for wallabies, with 22 sightings reported and three animals destroyed.

Ms Howard says operations to search for wallabies are progressing across seven management units, with four ground-based contractors using a range of aerial and ground-based surveillance methods.

“This includes the ground hunters with dogs, but also using thermally equipped drones and aerial surveillance with thermal cameras,” she says.

From eight sightings in the past quarter, two were killed at Boundary Creek, West Branch of the Manuherikia River, north of St Bathans, by ground hunters using either dogs or the thermally equipped drones.

Signage is now in place, asking the public to report sightings, along State Highways near Lindis Pass, Ranfurly, Omarama, Waitaki, Palmerston, Dunedin and Middlemarch. Sightings can be logged on the website


Jobs for Nature projects

There are a total 25 Jobs for Nature funded projects currently around Otago, totalling $53 million, which are predicted to create more than 450 jobs. Other than conifers and wallabies, the other two key ORC projects under the $22.5 million funding are Private Land Biodiversity and the Te Hakapupu/ Pleasant River restoration projects.