Kids Restore the Kepler Project

Project Outline for the Kepler Peninsula

Te Anau's backyard bird song conservation project

Kids Restore the Kepler map

Effectively a peninsula between Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau, the 10,640 ha Kepler area is best known for its 60km circular track (the blue outline) that wends its way around the mountains, valleys, rivers and lake shores at this edge of Fiordland National Park.

The most accessible of the Great Walks, it has gained a certain notoriety for its annual Kepler Challenge and Luxmore Grunt mountain runs. In 2006 in partnership with DOC, the Kepler Challenge Committee laid a 60km stoat trap line along the track as a protective corridor, thus beginning the Kepler bird song project.

The wildlife needing help?

mohuaMohua - James Reardon

A string of endangered species inhabit this area including kiwi, whio, kaka, kea, kakariki, robin, rock wren, mohua and weka. The odd takahe has wandered into the area. Short and long-tailed bats have been seen. Yellow mistletoe grows in amongst the forest. Local populations of more common birds such as tui, bellbirds, fantails and kereru add to this amazing ecosystem.

This makes the Kepler Mountains a very special site right here next to Te Anau township.



More protection is needed:

To ensure their long-term survival and to rebuild the populations to a healthy density, these species need more protection than the Kepler Challenge's outer trap circuit has alone been able to provide.

Mistletoe in the Kepler

It has become obvious that with the interior sections of the Kepler Track largely ringed by the Luxmore Mountain Range and the Iris Burn, the rate of stoat and possum migration into the Kepler from surrounding areas would make predator control operations more effective than if amongst a continuous area of forest.



And who has come to the rescue?

In 2011 with much excitement, a partnership with Kids Restore New Zealand (subsidiary of Air New Zealand Environment Trust) and the Community Trust of Southland was set up. 

1. Funding to set up the KRTK project

Funding of $150,000 came from Kids Restore New Zealand and another $70,000 from the Community Trust of Southland for the first two years.

2. Funding to continue the KRTK project

The 2014/2015 funding good news:

Kids Restore New Zealand, under the umbrella of Air New Zealand's Environmental Trust, have once again demonstrated what they see as an intergenerational commitment to kids being involved in conservation by funding another year of work for the kids restoring the Kepler.

The Department of Conservation's Community Conservation Fund has contributed $45,000 over three years to assist with retaining the crucial role of KRtK's Education Coordinator.

The Community Trust of Southland has allocated $20,000 to assist in the setting up of possum and rat control in the second tier of the Kepler project.

2012/2013 funding:

A further donation of $100,000 towards the project was announced by Kids Restore New Zealand, in September 2012. This means that with the use of DOC's expertise and Fiordland Conservation Trust's project management skills, the first stage of the trapping programme within the Kepler is well underway.

Trustee Ruud Kleinpaste announced the further donation during a recent visit to Te Anau schools. “Kids Restore New Zealand is so impressed with the work being undertaken by Kids Restore the Kepler, we wanted to ensure that the project continues with the same degree of enthusiasm,” Ruud said. "Kids Restore NZ is delighted with the huge input from local Te Anau kids. We are building conservationists of the future” he said.

Chairman of the Fiordland Conservation Trust, Murray Willans said "while the project has an environmental focus, the intent of this project is that there will be something that inspires all students to participate in a hands on way that they find motivating, while fulfilling curriculum requirements”.

3. Distinction Hotels NZ join the Kids Restore the Kepler Project

In July 2013, the Trust welcomed a new level of commitment to the KRTK project from Distinction Hotels NZ, following on from their previous sponsorship of the Kepler bat research project. The New Zealand wide hotel chain having begun in Te Anau with the Distinction Luxmore and Distinction Te Anau hotels, will come in as a second-tier sponsor with a determination to help this project in the long-term.

Geoff Thomson, managing director of Distinction Hotels NZ, clearly stated their intention. "It is our backyard. We need to look after it." With $20,000 per annum committed to the project for the next 3 years and right of renewal in 2016, Geoff continues to show he is a man who understands what is needed to look after this World Heritage area of ours.

4. Toi Design and the Kepler Challenge Committee have the kids working on the Kepler covered

The Trust and the kids are really grateful to Toi Design who donated $5,316 worth of really cool parkas, and that was matched by $5,356 for matching pants and the printing of logos from the Kepler Challenge Committee who then added a donation of $644 to round up their contribution to $6,000. The kids have formed a budgetary group to ensure such donations are used wisely.

For more information, go to

The Kepler kids and the Bug man

The phases of the KRTK project


Known as the Kids Restore the Kepler project, this first stage is being undertaken within the interior of the Kepler Track circuit, over 3,000 ha of stoat control and 420 ha of rat control, with some cat and possum work also part of the plan. All parties involved are committed to ensuring that educational opportunities provided by the project are meaningful for the more than 450 kids of the Te Anau Basin and other kids visiting the area. 

Education Coordinator - new appointment:

In April 2012, Caroline Carter was appointed Education Coordinator to fully integrate the project into the schools' curricula, a position made possible by additional funding from the project's major sponsor, KRNZ, with the other 50% of funding coming from local famers and conservationists, Ian and Jenny Willans.  

With Caroline's resignation in May 2014, the Trust appointed Jo Marsh, an ex-student of Fiordland's education system. She knows it well. Plus she brings to the job her qualifications, skills and experience in biodiversity.  Again the Trust is indebted to KRNZ, the Willans Family and an offshore family with a passion for Fiordland for funding this position in its second year.

The kids' website:

The kids restoring the Kepler have built their own website which is absolutely worth a visit, containing as it does all the up-to-date news on this project and other really cool stuff.  



Local community groups help out:

Local community groups are keen to be involved as well so the Trust is trialling the best way of doing this. As part of the trial, three stoat trap lines are being funded and maintained by:

  • Fiordland Lodge and Fiordland Helicopters 
    - 67 traps with rat and possum control also being considered
  • Ruth and Lance Shaw's Bee Gees - 56 traps plus a one year possum control trial
  • Fiordland House (Keri Antoniak & Ross Kerr)
    - 28 stoat traps and 27 rat traps being voluntarily checked
  • Local teachers and students are also taking responsibility for trap lines.

Check out the stoat trap lines being serviced by contractors, community and education groups.

Kepler Challenge committee's circuit:

And the Kepler Challenge Committee and volunteers continue their sterling work checking their own traps and helping out with the new ones as well.  Read more...

News Archives:

To read more of the KRTK's news go to KRTK news archives.

It's a mammoth effort and more help is welcomed.

Go to the Donations page if you want to help with this project or email the Trust Manager.

Related Pages: