Why does NZ take biosecurity so seriously?
New Zealand has a unique natural environment, representing an early period in our world’s evolutionary development.
Dr David Bellamy named New Zealand “Moa’s Ark”, in reference to our early separation from the general land mass when giant, flightless birds ruled the world and large predatory mammals, such as cats, had not yet appeared.
Prior to man’s arrival in New Zealand, our beautiful islands were home to nothing more than dense exotic forests, small, nonpoisonous lizards, eels and fish and a wide variety of flightless birds and operatic songbirds.
Since man’s arrival, our natural environment has been significantly challenged with the introduction of many non-native species which has seen the extinction of many natives including the magnificent giant Moa’s (large flightless birds that stood more than 2 metres high).
Now we are living in a more “enlightened age”, there has been resurgence in conservation efforts to try and rebuild our natural environment.
One of the biggest conservation success stories in NZ has been the “reclaiming” of offshore islands into wildlife sanctuaries, where the environment is returned to its original state and Pest Free Status is achieved.
Once an island has achieved this status, the return of native species is impressive and often rapid.
A few offshore islands around New Zealand have now achieved Pest Free Status, including several in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.
What can you do to help?
To continue this wonderful conservation story, we need all visitors to New Zealand to take our biosecurity regulations seriously:
- Make an honest declaration on arrival into New Zealand – the items that must be declared included food, animals, animal products and sporting & camping gear (you will be fined if you are found to be carrying prohibited items into the country)
- Visit Department of Conservation (DoC) visitor centres around New Zealand and learn about what you can do in each region to help support conservation efforts
- Follow DoC’s guidelines for visiting the islands of the Hauraki Gulf
- Follow DoC’s guidelines for visiting Kauri Forests to help prevent Kauri Die Back Disease (a serious virus threatening the future of our remaining Kauri forests in the upper North Island)
Visiting the islands of the Hauraki Gulf (“Treasure Islands”)
The Department of Conservation and Auckland Council have simple and effective guidelines for how to prepare for your journey to these “Treasure Islands”.
The key rule is to seal up all gear and food as soon as it is packed and keep it sealed until you reach your destination:
- Before you depart, check your bag, camping gear, shoes and clothing for “stowaways” – mice and rats, argentine ants, rainbow skinks and soil & seeds
- Check your shoes – are they clean? Scrub your shoes to remove seeds & soil
- All food to be packed and sealed in plastic rodent proof containers with a lid – do not open these bags until you arrive safely at your island destination
- If you are using cardboard boxes, make sure these are sealed with packing tape. Plastic carry bins and chilly bins with sealable lids are ideal
- All gear and luggage to be packed in rodent-proof containers
- If you are travelling to the islands with seedlings, plant matter or potting mix for planting, ensure the soil and plants are checked thoroughly for any “hitch-hikers”
Without your co-operation your trip may not be able to take place, so if you have any doubts or questions, be sure to ask us before you depart – you can call us during business hours 9am – 5pm, 7 days on +64-9-337-0633.
To check which islands in the Hauraki Gulf are pest free or partially pest free, take a look at the Treasure Islands website here.
Visiting the Kauri Forests
A terrible disease has been spreading through our North Island Kauri forests, causing these magnificent and ancient trees to die in unprecedented numbers.
While experts are still grappling to fully understand the disease, we now know that contaminated footwear and other outdoor equipment has contributed significantly to the issue.
Anyone entering the northern forests of New Zealand must ensure they scrub outdoor equipment, particularly shoes, boots and mountain bike tyres, with approved steriliser both before and after entering the bush.
Clean stations and information boards have been erected at the entrance and exit to most of the tracks around the Auckland region, with further containment measures expected over the coming weeks.
To help stop this spread, please follow these simple guidelines:
- Enter the forests with clean shoes and mountain bikes – use sprays and brushes at the entrance to all tracks where supplied to remove seeds & soil
- Stay on the tracks and never walk on Kauri roots
- Clean all shoes and mountain bikes once you reach the end of the track – some mountain bike areas (such as Hunua Regional Park) have bike cleaning stations that we strongly urge you to use.
- Visitors are now also being urged to stay away from the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland (one of the worst affected areas) to help the forest recover. The local Maori collective placed a ‘rahui’ in this area at the end of 2017, which means respecting the forest and staying away from the area completely.
Please ask us for recommendations on other forests you can visit during your visit to Auckland.