DOC and Air New Zealand - a natural fit
In April 2012 Air New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (DOC) signed an innovative three-year $3 million conservation partnership and, propelled by its success, they have recently extended this to the end of 2017. The value of the total investment is approximately $7.3 million.
“Air New Zealand and DOC are a natural fit and this relationship is already delivering real results both for conservation and tourism,” says DOC Director-General Lou Sanson.
The initial agreement centred around DOC and Air New Zealand working together to enhance the Great Walks network running through nine of New Zealand’s national parks and to promote it to domestic and international visitors.
The partnership has delivered positive results for conservation.
In the first year alone, Air New Zealand helped to transport more than 500 threatened birds and reptiles like tuatara to new homes around the country.
Four new biodiversity projects have also been set up to return threatened birds to Great Walks tracks. Hundreds of new traps have been set up alongside the track network and more than 100 rare birds ranging from kiwi to Stewart Island robins returned to safe habitats.
The promotion of the Great Walks network has also seen a significant spin-off for track use with an 8.1% increase in Great Walks visits in the first year of the partnership (the total growth in numbers over the previous five years was 2.5%).
The newly signed agreement extends the conservation partnership for another two years and includes a new set of marine conservation initiatives.
Under the agreement Air New Zealand will support new marine monitoring and research work involving 10 of the 34 marine reserves around the country. This will build on DOC’s existing National Marine Reserves Monitoring Programme and provide information on the health of our marine protected areas.
DOC and Air New Zealand will also work to promote a range of visitor experiences associated with the marine reserve network.
The DOC marine experiences network will start with 10 iconic marine destinations including:
- Whangarei - Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve
- Auckland - Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island/Leigh)
- Gisborne - Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve (Whangara)
- Coromandel - Te Whanganui-a-hei (Cathedral Cove)
- Wellington - Taputeranga Marine Reserve
- Wellington/ Kapiti Coast - Kapiti Island Marine and Nature Reserve
- Abel Tasman National Park - Tonga Island Marine Reserve
- Marlborough Sounds - Long Island - Kokomohua Marine Reserve
- Milford Sound - Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve
- Rakiura/Stewart Island, Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve.
This network will be a potential new tourist attraction for New Zealand, similar to the Great Walks. It will provide opportunities for DOC to work with iwi and other commercial partners to promote visits to marine destinations.
Air New Zealand’s additional funding will also support the Great Walks biodiversity projects that are up and running in the areas around the Lake Waikaremoana, Milford, Routeburn and Rakiura Tracks. It will enable the continuation and extension of the Threatened Species Translocation programme.
“The National Parks and marine reserves that DOC works hard to preserve and protect throughout New Zealand form part of the environmental and cultural fabric of our country. As New Zealand’s national carrier, we have a responsibility to support the great work undertaken to further align conservation with recreation and tourism,” says Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon.
Adding the marine experiences network to the Great Walks network will allow DOC to promote the significance of marine reserves and provide New Zealanders and international visitors with more opportunities to explore nature by land or sea.
Key to the network is the concept of marine reserves fuelling our Kiwi way of life – creating greater enjoyment and appreciation of marine ecosystems, building knowledge about how best to manage our marine environment, and helping to ensure those things we love can continue into the future.