Set in 185 hectares, Orana Wildlife Park is the only major zoo in the South Island and NZ’s only open range wildlife park. We care for over 1,000 animals representing 90 different species, many of which are critically endangered. Orana is a conservation powerhouse, making a significant contribution to recovery programmes for Aotearoa’s threatened species, such as kākāriki karaka/orange-fronted parakeet (NZ’s rarest parakeet).
Currently, over 50 native species live and breed on Orana’s grounds due to extensive planting and pest eradication programmes implemented over many years. Our site is also home to a “Site of Ecological Significance” consisting of several historic kōwhai trees and a rare clematis species. Our team is delighted to have secured a grant through DOC via the government’s “Mahi mō te Taiao/Jobs for Nature” programme to extend this work. The grant is for a separate project which will see key areas of the Park’s 185 hectares of land fully restored to a high level and further enhanced as a critical habitat for some of Canterbury’s most threatened species. Key habitats include grassland/dry savannah sites and wetlands around the artesian waterways. This project is now in full swing.
McLeans Island, where Orana is located, is a highly modified landscape with widespread exotic plantings and grazing animals. Despite this, it is considered ecologically important due to its rare and localised flora and fauna species. Site-wide
biodiversity surveys at Orana Wildlife Park showed that the zoo grounds provide important habitat for a plethora of native birds, insects, plants and reptiles. A high calibre Jobs for Nature team of three staff are employed for the three year project.
The key outputs of the project are:
- 36,000 eco-sourced stems will be planted as part of this project.
- A large pine forest (highlighted below) that is part of the project has been felled. This 8.45 hectare site is the key focus for the first stage of the project and a native forest comprising of 24,000 plants in total will be planted over the three year period. Due to co-funding by ECan, we will be in a position to plant 6,000 more plants in this forest alone than the entire original planting plan for the project (i.e. 18,000 plants in total was the original plan). The 24,000 plants have been ordered. As at 31 January 2023, a total of 7,126 stems have been planted, representing 20% of the overall project target of 36,000 plants.
- The public area of Orana Wildlife Park has been divided into various areas (e.g. riparian). It is anticipated that due to the generous support of our project co-funders that an additional 12,000 stems will be planted in this space.
- An extensive predator trapping network covers the entire Park site of 185 hectares and includes over 400 traps targeting mustelids, cats and possums. The traps are GPS located in the TrapNZ app and trapping data is also entered in this app. Incredible success is being realised, particularly in relation to eradication of possums and feral cats. To save costs, the team are building the plywood trap boxes, to maximise the available budget, which will see us roll out more traps than originally planned.
- Weed control has commenced with the key focus being on eradication of wilding pines, gorse and broom. ECan are kindly providing sprays as part of our co-funding agreement, which will further stretch what we are able to achieve.
Orana has the capability to manage this project indefinitely, once the three year project is complete. Our native fauna and
maintenance teams are highly skilled and will monitor wildlife and conduct audits in consultation with DOC, ECan and
Christchurch City Council and will also maintain predator control.