New Zealand’s Biodiversity is unique and a large number of our species can be found nowhere else in the World.
In Kaikōura, there is a wide range of important native species and ecosystems. Kaikōura is well-known for its NZ fur seals, whales and dolphins. It is also home to twelve native lizard species including the unusual black-eyed gecko and almost a quarter of the native plant species in the country. The last two surviving colonies of Hutton’s Shearwater breed here along with 30 other indigenous bird species.
There are a number of taonga species recognised throughout New Zealand. Taonga species are native birds, plants and animals of special cultural significance and importance to Māori, and specifically Ngāi Tahu throughout most of Te Wai Pounamu (South Island) and the islands to the south including Rakiura (Stewart Island). Check out a list of taonga birds and marine mammals here.
Biodiversity in Kaikōura
Our unique biodiversity faces many challenges in today’s climate, such as:
- Habitat loss and fragmentation
- Pollution e.g. pesticides, fertiliser run-off
- Climate changes in temperature, rainfall, snowfall and sea level rise
- Extreme natural events e.g. fire, drought and floods
- Small population sizes and restricted distribution
- Human activity through earthworks and forestry
- Lack of knowledge about biodiversity and sustainable management
In the last 800 years in New Zealand, humans and introduces pests have caused the extinction of:
- 32% of indigenous land and freshwater bird species
- 18% of endemic sea bird species
- Three of seven frog species
- At least 12 invertebrate species (such as snails and insects)
- One fish specie
- One bat specie
- As well as possibly 3 reptile species and 11 plant species.
Climate change contributes largely to the decrease in biodiversity, with many impacts such as changes in migration, breeding and blooming in plants and animals being seen already. Biodiversity provides resilience for us as we adapt to the fluctuations bought on by climate change.
Plant pest species include Old man’s beard, banana passionfruit, barberry, wandering jew/willie, crack willow, grey willow, broom, gorse, boneseed, hieracium and wilding conifer.
Introduced animal and plant pests have greatly reduced numbers of native plant and animal species and therefore biodiversity in New Zealand. Without controlling their numbers our native species could become extinct.
Animal pest species include feral goats and pigs, deer, possums, stoats, weasels, ferrets, cats, rats and mice.
You can help protect and restore biodiversity in Kaikōura by:
- Increasing the natural habitat by growing native plants that naturally occur in your area
- Creating habitats using features such as ponds, bird baths, hollow logs and nesting boxes
- Removing pest weeds and controlling animal pests
- Protecting your significant natural areas through covenants for future generations
- Being a responsible cat owner and ensuring you are taking steps to help protect and enhance our precious wildlife.
The Significant Natural Areas (SNA) Programme aims to work with landowners with SNA on their property, to manage and protect significant areas of biodiversity on their properties.
There is a also working group that provides advice to Council on policies and implementation methods for the SNA programme.
Suburban School’s Olivia Doughty (11 years old) won the 2018 Think Kind Student Competition which calls for projects on how we can help animals.
Olivia’s project, titled “Can we better protect the marine mammals of Kaikōura?” focuses on the information in Kaikōura available to locals and tourists about what to do around wildlife on land and sea, and if there was anything more that could be done to help educate people.
02 October 2018
With over 150 members of the Kaikōura community in attendance, lots of rubbish was collected from Waikōau/Lyell Creek and the surrounding beach area.
Thanks to Environment Canterbury, Kaikōura's Primary Schools, CCSP (Creation Care Study Programme), NCTIR, Kaikōura Youth Council, Kaikōura Mums and babies group, Whale Watch, Department of Conservation Innovative Waste Kaikōura, Keep New Zealand Beautiful and everyone who came along for helping to make the day a success.
23 August 2018
The Department of Conservation has announced the three finalists for the 2018 Great Walk application round, and although the Waiau Toa/Molesworth was not one of the finalists, DoC were impressed with the community support for the application.
Responsible cat ownership
Estimates suggest New Zealand’s 1.4 million domestic cats kill at least 18.76 million animals a year, including over 1.1 million native birds.
Cats only bring back on average 1 in 5 kills, so even if it seems that your cat isn’t bringing home many birds to show you, chances are it’s killing a lot more.
Being a responsible cat owner can greatly reduce your cat’s impact on our wildlife.
Kaikōura has the largest Red Bill Gull breeding colony in NZ and the only breeding colonies for Hutton’s Shearwater. Our district also provides important breeding habitats for Banded Dotterel, two types of Oyster Catchers, several species of shags, as well as terns and little blue penguins.
Banded Dotterels are hunted by cats while nesting and fledging on our beaches. Hutton’s shearwaters are very vulnerable to both cats and dogs on their first flight from the mountains to the sea. Local research is showing very strong evidence that Penguins, Banded Dotterel, White Fronted Terns, and Red Bill Gulls are also impacted by our four legged friends.
Bush birds such as the South Island Robin and eggs or juveniles of our favourite bush birds like the Tui, Bellbird, Brown Creeper, Rifleman, Tom Tit and Kererū are also highly vulnerable to cat predation.
New Zealand’s banded Dotterel population is declining, and are disappearing from many sites across NZ.
In Kaikōura cats, hedgehogs and other predators prey on eggs, chicks, juveniles and even adult birds.
Beach users including quad bikes, fishers, dog walkers and campers are causing habitat loss or otherwise affecting birds, particularly breeding sites in South Bay and other nesting areas.
- Feed your cat well, regularly and inside, with a complete and balanced diet
- Put a bell on your cat from time to time (cats learn to hunt silently with a bell, so mixing up the type can be beneficial)
- Provide moving toys for your cat to play with to reduce boredom
- Keep your cat inside at night (particularly important if you live close to the sea)
- Locate bird feeders in your garden away from cover where a cat might hide
- Investigate cat bibs
- Ensure your cat is appropriately fed while you are on holiday
- Put animal guards around trees where a nest is seen
- Get your cat de-sexed.
As well as following all ‘Responsible Cat Ownership’ advice, you can help protect the Dotterels by:
- Keep beach activities, especially quad-biking, to established tracks only
- Not lighting beach fires at South Bay
- Where possible, walk dogs away from the beach areas
- When crossing/walking on the beach, keep your dog on a short lead at heel
- Do not disturb agitated birds, nests or chicks
- If you find an unprotected nest in an area other than South Bay, ring the Banded Dotterel group on 0274 363 636. They may be able to provide a cage to help it hatch.
The Banded Dotterel study at South Bay is working with our community to record, research and raise awareness of the Banded Dotterels in our district. The group is working at reversing the alarming trends in population decline through community education and attempting to protect nests to allow more eggs to hatch.
The goal is to ensure that Kaikōura can remain a Banded Dotterel stronghold.
Council is proud to be working with our community to protect our wildlife and make sure it has a sustainable future.
Check out the links below for more information on responsible cat ownership in Kaikōura and Council’s other environmental work.
Sharing our coasts with Kaikōura’s seabirds
The busy summer season means more boats and jet skis are on the water, along with recreational fishers. During this time our wildlife is at greater risk of being injured or accidentally killed and particularly as it is breeding season.
However, if everyone does their bit to be a responsible vessel operator and fisherman or woman, we can help protect Kaikōura’s at risk wildlife.
Seabirds such as penguins and shags that are struck by watercraft can sustain horrific head and spinal injuries taking months to recover or causing instant death. The same can happen if you discard your fishing lines and hooks in the sea or on our beaches. Discarded fishing gear causes too many unnecessary seabird deaths, please respect our unique marine environment.
Follow these easy tips to ensure you and our wildlife stay safe on the water this summer:
- If you are operating watercraft, always be on the lookout for seabirds on the water surface which have come up from dives, especially around the Kaikōura Peninsula and when close to shore.
- Adhere to the 5 knot speed limit within 200m of the shoreline.
- Never discard your hooks or fishing lines in the sea or on beaches, take them home with you and dispose of appropriately.
- When enjoying the Kaikōura coast leave nothing behind and take all rubbish with you.
- If you accidentally catch a seabird whilst fishing – do not cut the line and let the bird go, ensure you take the bird to your local vet clinic immediately to have hooks removed.
Take a look at our flyer here
Photo credit: Sabrina Luecht, Kaikoura Wildlife Rescue
Images courtesy of Fairlie Atkinson
06 December 2018