Irahuka / Long Point, The Catlins

Purchased in 2009 by equal partners Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and the Minister of Conservation’s Nature Heritage Fund, the area contained more than 48 pairs of breeding hoiho, representing more than 10% of the entire mainland New Zealand population of hoiho (estimated to be about 486 pairs in 2009).

Irahuka is on a stunning stretch of Otago coastline. The area is complex but, together with existing Department of Conservation reserves, it protects a 12 km stretch of coastline and marginal strips. As well as being a prime penguin nesting habitat, this coastal jewel has significant natural values. It also supports New Zealand fur seals, New Zealand sea lions, numerous seabird species, rare coastal plant communities, small remnants of native forest, and an archaeological site. It is intended to manage this to encourage expansion of a number of sea birds, not just hoiho.

Since the reserve has been purchased, the Trust has fenced off parts of the reserve, created car parks and walking tracks, and installed signage. There is a regular predator control programme provided by Forest and Bird South Otago Branch. Annual monitoring of hoiho breeding success is undertaken by the Trust and volunteers. There is a remnant titi population at the tip of Long Point, and Forest and Bird Dunedin Branch will monitor this as part of their “Bring Back the Seabird Project”.

In the future the Trust hopes to erect its own field base for its staff and researchers.

Long Point in the Catlins
PHOTO: Otago Daily Times

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