2022 Highlights & Achievements

2022 was an outstanding year for the Trust as we continue to work towards our vision of restoring the biodiversity of the Whakatipu Basin through revegetation projects, education, collaboration and advocacy.

Despite the ongoing interruptions caused by Covid 19, volunteers at our Community Nursery grew 10,282 native trees, shrubs & grasses, which were planted at our Keystone Sites, Community Group Sites & School sites, taking the total number to 70,416 natives planted since 2015.

The impact of our mahi is becoming more visibly evident as our sites become well established, with outstanding growth this year thanks to the wet spring and warm summer….

New to volunteering at native tree planting events? Here’s what to expect…

Volunteering at a community native tree planting event is a great way to take action to mitigate climate change, restore biodiversity & have a fun and social day out in nature with awesome, like minded people.  If you are new to volunteering at native tree planting days, here’s a brief summary about what to expect on the day.

All of our planting dates and locations are listed on our website and facebook events.  Parking is generally close to the planting site, with a green Whakatipu Reforestation Trust flag indicating you are at the right place!  On arrival, you will be greeted by a team member wearing a hi-viz vest, and directed to the registration table, where you will be welcomed, sign-in, and receive a health and safety briefing.

From there, one of our volunteers will show you where to get any equipment you may need (shovel, gloves, fertiliser etc) and demonstrate how to plant a native tree.  While we appreciate that many community members are avid gardeners, we do like to take the time to show each new volunteer how we plant natives to give them the best chance of survival in a non-garden setting.  The demonstration includes:

  • How deep to dig each hole,
  • How much fertiliser to apply to each plant,
  • How to remove plants from the black plastic bags,
  • Placement of weed mats,
  • Installing plant guards and bamboo canes to protect plants from browsing rabbits (not all sites),
  • How to mulch,,  
  • What to do with the bags once you have finished planting.

Then you are ready to get planting!!  All of the plants, plant guards, bamboo stakes etc will have already been distributed around the planting site, so you can look around and find some plants that are ready to be dug in, and start digging and planting.   

We reuse black plastic plant bags, so we ask volunteers to take care when removing the plants from the bags.  The bags are collected throughout the morning (a great job for kids), and volunteers will fold these so they can be taken back to the nursery for washing.

So, that’s the technical side of things… but we all know that morning tea, including hot chocolate with marshmallows, is the real draw card for planting days!!  We are very grateful to both the Hilton Queenstown and Crowne Plaza Queenstown for providing morning tea for our volunteers.  Hot drinks and morning snacks are provided mid morning, and this is a great opportunity to take a rest, refill your water bottle, and chat with fellow volunteers. 

Planting is generally finished by late morning.  And once all of the plants are in the ground, we ask volunteers to help tidy up the site & return all of the planting equipment.  

At our Whitechapel Reserve planting day, we wrap up the event with a community BBQ sausage sizzle (vegan and GF friendly of course!).  It’s always an amazing feeling to look over the site once planting is complete, and appreciate how much has been achieved by our community of volunteers!  Now is the time to pat each other on the back for a job well done!

Of course, the day would not be complete without loads of selfies and cool photos of plants for your socials!  Please remember to tag us #whakatipureforestationtrust so we can check out your photos too!!  We will also be taking photos throughout the event.  If someone in hi-viz asks to take your photo, please feel free to either give them your best smile, or let them know if you would rather not have your photo taken.  We respect that not everyone wants to end up in our FB and Insta posts!  

We are excited about this upcoming spring planting season and are looking forward to working together to plant over 5000 native trees and shrubs throughout September.  

For further information:

Web:  https://wrtqt.org.nz/community-planting-days/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/wrtqt.org.nz

Email:  volunteer@wrtqt.org.nz

No Trace Events – Be the change you want to see in the world.

Last year, Sebastian, Alejandro & Charlie – the founding partners of No Trace Events – visited our Community Nursery to learn about our history, our work and our vision.  They had a fledgling idea to bring beautiful music to beautiful locations and to leave no trace, and they were on the lookout for community based conservation organisations that aligned with their values of sustainability and the environment.  

As we wandered around the nursery, I shared the history of the Trust, and how we had grown from an idea to create a small native plant nursery supplying natives to a few sites around Queenstown.  So too, No Trace Events, started as an idea borne out of Covid lockdown.  At a time where it is easy to feel discouraged and cynical about the state of the world, Sebastian, Alejandro & Charlie are taking positive steps to create a better future.  No Trace Events creates amazing parties that make me want to be in my 20s again!  However, these parties have some not-so-subtle underlying themes.  Firstly, they leave no trace – they use biodegradable wristbands at events, and drinks are either served in fully recyclable cans or reusable tumblers made from RPET that get cleaned and reused after each event. Secondly, 10% of all their profits are donated to conservation.  In their first year, No Trace donated the equivalent of 504 native trees to WRT!  They also support Kiwi Birdlife Park, as well as various ocean conservation groups including The Coral Gardeners, 4Ocean, Sea Shepherd and the Reef Alliance.  This level of support speaks volumes to their commitment to make a real difference to land and sea conservation.

Additionally, No Trace has a strong focus on using their influence to educate their party goers.  Early next year, they are planning a multi day music festival, which will be kicking off with a series of interactive environment / sustainability focused workshops.  Not your average start to a music festival!

Last Autumn, the No Trace team joined us planting natives at Whitechapel Reserve.  It was one of those memorably wet days, when really you just wanted to stay home!  But despite the rain and wind, the team put on their raincoats and when planting was over they turned up the music to help us celebrate having planted 50,000 natives.  It was great to have the additional fun and energy of music accompanying our community BBQ! 

We at WRT are grateful that No Trace has chosen to support our work and vision.  And we are proud of these young men who have chosen to walk the path of “being the change they want to see in the world.”  


Educate for Nature – Nurturing Environmental Stewardship

Globally, awareness of climate change and the impact of biodiversity loss has sparked broad community interest in understanding what we can do locally to make a difference.  At the very heart of making a difference is the underlying need for education to raise awareness across the generations, and the need to build a culture of stewardship / kaitiakitanga. 

Our Founders and Trustees have always understood and valued the role of education and need for community engagement in order to achieve our vision of restoring Whakatipu’s biodiversity.  Education was established as one of our four key pillars when the Trust first started in 2014.   Through our Community Nursery in Jardine Park, we have hosted many school and community groups for hands-on learning sessions about native plants and the role they play in our environment.  

In 2021, thanks to funding from the ORC EcoFund, we launched Educate for Nature, a unique, locally relevant, environmental education programme, that spans the generations from school aged children to adults.  Educate for Nature is jointly delivered by two part time roles, our Education & Outreach Officer and Nursery Manager.  

We are seeking partnerships / sponsorships from within our community to fully fund this programme and support us in achieving our vision.  For more information about our learning programs and how to partner with us, please visit Educate for Nature on our website, or email us at volunteer@wrtqt.org.nz.  

5000 Natives Planted This Autumn

This autumn, hundreds of volunteers planted 5,000 natives at our keystone and community group sites throughout the Whakatipu Basin from Arrowtown to Gibbston, Arthurs Point and more. Every one of these plants was grown by volunteers at our Community Nursery in Kelvin Heights, from eco-sourced seeds. An amazing effort by our nursery manager Barbara, and her wonderful team of volunteers who attend our nursery on Wednesday mornings to grow and nurture these precious plants.

We kicked off our planting season with 1500 natives at our Whitechapel Reserve keystone site in Arrow Junction. Despite the rain and cold, 80 volunteers joined us as we planted and celebrated a fantastic milestone of having planted 50,000 natives since 2015. Our amazing friends at the Hilton Hotel provided a delicious morning tea, including urns of freshly brewed coffee and hot chocolate with marshmallows! Awesome local company No Trace Events turned up the tunes for our BBQ lunch! We also had heaps of spot prizes donated by local businesses and supporters. Huge thanks to these local business!

Ziptrek Ecotours for the Kereru Zip ride
The Remarkables, Coronet Peak & Mt Hutt for the adult day pass
Kiwi Birdlife Park for the family annual pass
Trees that Count for lovely t-shirts & plant snap
Whakatipu Wildlife Trust for caps & water bottles
Bee the Change NZ for Whitechapel honey
Dept of Conservation (DOC) for hut passes

At Bush Creek 600 natives were planted, extending our coverage at this new site along the walking / cycling trail behind the Chinese Village. Lake Hayes South is looking fantastic, with 400 natives planted up to the fence of private land. Everyone was amazed by the growth and high survival rate at this site, with last years plants literally bursting upwards! A big thank you to our volunteer Hans, who works away quietly maintaining this site.

Our final planting day was at our riparian site beside the cycle trail off Slope Hill Road, along the unnamed tributary of Mill Creek. 1000 natives were planted by 60 volunteers (many in gumboots) on what started off as a frosty morning, but turned into a warm, sunny day. The awesome team at Crowne Plaza Queenstown provided a delicious morning tea, and we finished our day with a community BBQ. A special thank you to our volunteers Tom & Helen for their work in maintaining this and other sites, and especially for their efforts in preparing this site for planting.

Our community groups continue to amaze and inspire us with their hard work and dedication. All of our community sites are looking fantastic, and are worth visiting to see how these groups are transforming once weed infested land to diverse native plantings. At Alpine Retreat, the community reports return of native birdsong, where just a few years ago there was only the silence of wilding pines forest. To date 1500 natives have been planted and an active predator trapping program is in place. Morning Star Reserve (KAPOW) planted a further 350 natives this autumn. Gibbston Reserve on Coal Pit Road just completed their second planting of 150 plants into hard ground. However the natives planted last spring are growing vigorously, and the community are doing a fantastic job at maintaining this area. We acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all of our community groups!!

The end of planting season is not time for us to rest on our laurels! Our nursery will be moving to winter volunteer hours of 12.00-3.00pm from 19 May. And we are already planning our spring planting campaign, with dates published on our website and FB.

Finally, we thank every one of our sponsors and donors, large and small. Our impact and success completely relies your ongoing support and generosity. If you would like to make a donation or talk to us about how you can support our work, please feel free to contact us.

Ngā mihi nui.
The WRT Team.

Lake Hayes South Cleanup – Thank you PP Group

Last Friday, the Patterson Pitts Group survey team spent their day volunteering at Lake Hayes South. Despite a wet, cold start, the team worked with energy & enthusiasm to clear & prepare our upcoming planting area! They dragged logs and branches up onto massive piles on the flat section by the road.

Additionally, part of the team spent their day on scrub bars, clearing the weeds around the established natives. It was an immense team effort and the transformation speaks for itself! Our most heartfelt thanks to Stephen Popenhagen and his team for a choosing to volunteer with WRT, and for a job well done!

Lake Hayes South is one of our premier Keystone Sites, highly visible as you drive towards Lake Hayes Pavillion. WRT started planting here in 2015, and to date over 5000 natives are thriving at this site. A further 400 natives are ready to be planted by volunteers on Saturday 24th April.