Punakaiki Restoration Project

From our base at the Punakaiki Restoration Project on the West Coast of the South Island, our aims are to make a positive and lasting impact on the social, economic and environmental values of this unique region. We have a number of projects across the Coast, including the Punakaiki Coastal Restoration site and the Bullock Creek Farm site. 

Through the combined efforts of everyone involved, our projects are helping to:

 – Restore the biodiversity of the area

  •  – Develop an education and knowledge base to support species protection
  •  – Strengthen community networks
  •  – Build the capacity of community partners to engage with and use the restoration sites
  •  – Provide a ‘new heritage’ of enhanced conservation land for the benefit of future      generations
  •  – Create employment opportunities within the local community

The Punakaiki Coastal Restoration project site was first established in 2007 and borders the Westland Petrel Special Protected Area, located in the foothills of the Paparoa Ranges. This is the only breeding colony for the Westland Petrel (tāiko), a species of petrel whose presence was first discovered by students from the local Barrytown school in the late 1940s.

To the south, the project is bounded by the Nikau Scenic Reserve, a small but important remnant of the sand plain forest that once covered the area. The site itself contains some small forest remnants including a large stand of nikau palms, as well as an ecologically diverse wetland area adjacent to the scenic reserve.

The restoration activities Conservation Volunteers have undertaken on this site will see a significant extension of this remnant, providing a now rare corridor of native forest from mountain to sea. At the same time, the planting has been designed to enhance the protection of the Westland Petrel’s breeding habitat.  Since 2008, more than 208,000 native trees have been planted over 75 hectares. The site was previously owned by Rio Tinto Ltd and gifted back to the community and gazetted as a Nature Reserve in 2007.

The second primary site is at Bullock Creek situated approximately 2kms north of the Punakaiki village. Planting commenced here in 2020. The Bullock Creek restoration project is funded by the Department of Conservation Restoring Nature Fund and  will continue for many years, with almost 500,000 trees to be planted across the 153 hectare site. The site is retired farmland and is the entrance to several walks including Cave Creek.

The West Coast projects are a collaborative effort involving government and community organisations pooling their resources to deliver significant environmental and community benefits. The partnerships for these projects include  the Department of Conservation, Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, the Ministry for Social Development and the Ministry for Primary Industries.