BLOG POST / Tip to Treasure

Over the last 35 years, the land on which the park sits has been completely transformed. From a dumping ground... into an oasis for native wildlife!

The park today featuring our brand new kiwi house and some beautiful kaka beak flowers.

To date, an estimated 18,000 native trees have been planted around the park.. But before this huge task, there were several bigger jobs to accomplish first.

When the land was first leased by the founder, Dick Wilson, the site was a popular dumping ground. Car bodies, rubbish, invasive weeds and huge pine trees completely took over. Dick, his son Paul and other members of the whānau cleared as much as they could by hand with little to no heavy machinery. An incredible feat! With the new found space, aviaries began to pop up and with that, the planting began...

1980's - Taken from the same spot as the first photo!

Fast forward 30 years and it was then time to focus on the pesky pines!

Wildling conifers have now become part of Queenstown's famous landscape... to overseas visitors this is often perceived as beautiful but unfortunately these introduced trees are a huge problem and threaten New Zealand's native vegetation, providing unsuitable habitat for wildlife too.

Introduced in the 1880's, these trees went out of control and spread so quickly that they now cover almost 2 million hectares across the entire country. Today there are large-scale control methods in place but they still continue to spread, acidifying soils and preventing natives from surviving and thriving on the ground below. The Wilson family were previously removing around 2 pine trees a year from the park but it was time to take it to the next level...

With help from local arborists and a lot of planning and hard work, the park felled 129 pine trees in 2018 to make room for more native planting!

2018 Large-scale pine removal on the upper hillside. Photo by Paul Wilson, Park Director

Since then, and with funding from Skyline Queenstown, staff and volunteers have been planting planting planting! An irrigation system has been installed and these new trees and shrubs have really taken off. The entire landscape here at the Kiwi Birdlife Park has seen huge changes and with that, new visitors too!

Tūī, korimako, pīwakawaka, kererū and riroriro are just a few of our more common wild visitors. A pair of kārearea often come to say hello and have been seen mating in the park this week. Wild yellow crowned kākāriki were also recently spotted for the first time in years! Exciting!

Photo of the upper hillside today with all the new planting

All this native planting means more food for New Zealand's wildlife. The park's birds and reptiles benefit from it too as the keepers are always trimming pieces for browse as part of the daily run. Spring time means that right now there are plenty of flowersto go around for all and when Autumn kicks in, there will be an abundance of berries.

Cheeky the kea with some wineberry/makomako flowers

Don't worry, the pine wood didn't go to waste. We actually used a lot of it to build our brand new kiwi house and a new kārearea exhibit. The offcuts are then used for firewood to keep us warm and toasty in the winter!

If you would like to help us with our bush regeneration project, you can sponsor a tree here at the park for us to plant. We have a tree nursery right by reception so come take a look!

The new plants always need tending to. When they are young, common weeds can easily outcompete them. Our volunteers are a huge help when tackling this task and we couldn't maintain our grounds without them.

Top: When the new planting began - Below: The same spot today featuring our brand new kārearea exhibit!

If you are interested in volunteering here at the park and can commit to 3 hours a week for 3 months minimum,

e-mail me at

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