Get involved – if you would like to get involved with the Aspiring Biodiversity Trust we have a number of opportunites available, including internship positions.

Interested in volunteering opportunities with us ~ we would like to hear from you…

Kea fledglings
Kea fledglings Jan 2018 Makarora

Introducing some of our threatened species conservation programme volunteers.

Taylor Hume joined us at the start of the 2017/2018 Makarora braided river bird survey season. Since then she has been fortunate to be awarded an Internship with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC).

Taylor is a Zoology graduate with Hons from Australia. Since graduating Taylor has shown commitment to her chosen path; immersing herself in volunteering activities to develop her fauna and flora survey skills and experience to help develop a career in wildlife conservation. She has volunteered on various projects in a range of environments with various species groups including mammals and sea turtles. Taylor welcomed the opportunity to expand her bird survey skills with us within the dynamic braided river environment of the Makarora River.

Taylor Hume on the braid plain of the Makarora River

“Rachel Hufton and Anthony Coote taught me valuable skills like how to safely cross rivers as a team, identify wetland bird species in the area by call and morphology, and how to make observations and communicate together to prevent miscounting and re-counting individuals. It was a valuable experience that allowed me to familiarise myself with cryptic braided river bird species such as wrybill, which can be difficult to survey within this environment and that I might not of otherwise seen.”

We wish Taylor every success with her AWC Internship, her commitment and enthusiasm will certainly benefit a future career in wildlife conservation.

Rod Elliott from Lake Hawea has been volunteering with ABT since April 2018 and has been instrumental to the setting up of the braided river bird restoration programme.

Captain Rod and his jet boat on the Makarora (winter 2018)
Rod enjoys getting out within the stunning Makarora valley and utilising his jet boat to help restore populations of endangered braided river birds through contributing to the ABT invasive mammalian predator control programme.
His generous efforts transporting traps and trap servicing volunteers on the river are greatly appreciated and will certainly be valued by returning wrybills, black-fronted terns and black-billed gulls during the up coming breeding season.
We are all looking forward to the spring.
With thanks to Rod!
Nick Beckwith from Dunedin is a keen bird enthusiast, photographer and supportive member of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand. Historically he has been spending time in the Makarora region enjoying the scenery and local fishing in the pristine waters.
Nick helping with installation of rock wren protection upper Lucidus/ Lake Castalia

It has been great to have Nick helping out on ABT’s braided river bird surveys and alpine invasive mammal trapping for rock wren protection this season.

“Still on a high after those three awesome days in that amazing location carrying out trap installation for rock wren protection. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of the operation. If there is a place for me to help again… yes please ! “
Thanks Nick!
Ardi Bernasconi international ski racing coach and trainer from Switzerland spends most of his time in the mountains of New Zealand and Europe but welcomed the change of habitat to spend some time volunteering with ABT on the beautiful Makarora River. Giving back to nature – protecting endangered braided river birds.
Ardi on the Makarora braided river bed

Dr Andrew Shepherd is a resident of Makarora and has made a valuable contribution to the setting up of invasive mammal trapping programes for Makarora catchment threatened species protection – including braided river birds and the endangered alpine rock wren. Previously the Co-Director for A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand, Andrew is now employed by the University of Otago where he teachers and researches in theology and ethics (with a particular research focus on environmental ethics). Andrew’s energy and enthusiasm (and that of his family) have been much appreciated since the initial establishment of Aspiring Biodversity Trust.

Andrew in action within the Crucible basin helping to install invasive mammal predator control for rock wren protection.

Karthic SS Wildlife and Conservation Film maker for New Zealand Natural History joined this years annual braided river bird survey. He found the experience quite an eye opener! That might have had something to do with the icy cold river crossings… Weather conditions weren’t optiminal during Karthic’s stay but he hopes to return to film the endemic wrybill in its true nesting habitat of the South Islands braided rivers. Karthic was a great addition to this years team along with other valued volunteers. He managed to get an awesome sound recording of a pair of morepork during his stay in the true wonder that is Makarora.

Karthic enjoying the stunning Makarora scenery during the 2020 braided river bird walkover survey.

Nova Gillam a local resident of Makarora keen to assist with invasive predator control servicing and maintenance within the upper Wilkin Valley up to Lake Castalia with her Dad Scott Gillam. Nova is a keen outdoors person and is invoved in various backcountry activities throughout New Zealand.

Thanks so much for letting me join the trip, we had heaps of fun! Here I am checking a stoat trap on the way to Top Forks Hut. What a beautiful day, who would of guessed that the next day we would be in 2-3 feet of snow! I feel grateful as Tangata Whenua to be able to help Aspiring Biodiversity Trust to protect NZ’s cool little birds like the endangered rock wren and whio/blue duck. The outdoors is my happy place, I enjoy tramping and hunting and as I work part-time at Macpac I like to put the gear to the test. The experience was totally rewarding for me.”

“I am only one person but every trap counts!” 

Nova Gillam in the upper Wilkin Valley (Feb 2021) near the Wonderland Confluence with Mt Aeolus in the background.

Thanks Nova, we look forward to seeing you in the up comming season!

Bill Day of Seaworks, Wanaka. Bill Day is an amazing innovative and entrepreneurial businessman as well as an adventurer with a passion for nature (marine and terestrial). Founder of Seaworks in 1983, a highly successful maritime shipping company. Bill has made a significant contribution to the protection of whio/ blue duck and rock wren (NZ’s Bird of the Year 2022) protection within the Makarora and Wilkin Catchment. Bill generously supports ABT’s threatened species programmes through assistance of his amazing pilot skills and his personal helicopter to help deliver invasive mammal traps, equiptment and ABT personnel into important areas for indigenous biodiversity protection. Bill is keen to see the relic thretened species populations of the Makarora catchment thrive and we so love having him out in the field with us! Thank you Bill for all you do. 🙂

Bill Day (left) helicopter pilot with his aircraft and ABT volunteer Emile Coot (right), Siberia Valley.

Taylor Coon from Montana was a fantastic addition to the Makarora Field Camp 2024! Taylor committed to and enjoyed assisting the ABT team to deliver this incredible event in partnership with Birds NZ. She assisted on various birding/biodiversity activities throughout the week and presented on the use of Trail cameras for biological recording and scientific research. She also did a super job with the Biodiversity Quiz on the last night, that was soooo.. much fun! Her enthusiasm was perfect! Back in Montana Taylor works within the environmental sector within a range of projects and has advanced first aid skills. She is a keen birder and has really been enjoying New Zealand’s avifauna and expanding her Ebird recording! Safe travel’s Taylor.

Taylor with attendees at the Makarora Field Camp 2024!

Taylor Coon with attendees at the Makarora Field Camp Jan 2024.

'A Biodiversity Challenge' Runner up Best Environmental Film at the 20th NZ Mountain Film Festival 2022     Veiw it Here »