• The ABT Makarora Field Course Jan 2026 – Coming soon! *Save your place!
  • ABT Annual Braided River Bird Walkover Survey 11 – 13 October 2024. Volunteers wanted (may be some date variation subject to weather conditions).
  • “Welcome Back the Birds” Makarora, October 2024.
  • ABT Pīwauwau/Rock wren surveys Jan-March 2024.
  • The Makarora Field Course (8-13 Jan 2024) in partnership with Bird’s New Zealand. Come and join us for this residential event, to learn about the incredible biodiversity of this majestic valley – Birds and more! We look forward to seeing you!

    Makarora/ Makarore Valley and its confluence with the Wilkin/ Otanenui and the head of Lake Wānaka
  • ABT’s Reptile Survey with expert herpetologists: Dec 2023 (postponed from 2022/2023 season).
  • ABT Bat Survey Workshop Dec 2023 (tbc).
  • ABT are fortunate to have a place on the IUCN CTSG Training for Effective Conservation Translocations with Makarora Whio as a working case study. Fremantle, November 2023.
  • ABT Helicopter Ground Crew Safety Training (refresher) with Backcountry Helicopters – Makarora, 26 October.
  • ABT’s Annual Braided River Bird Survey 13-16 October (provisional dates) 2023. Following nest monitoring for the season.
  • ABT’s Backcountry invasive predator control programme for Rock Wren and Whio protection continues! From October through till June. Braided river and local mammalian and avian predator control continues throughout the year.
  • Celebrating “Māori Language Week” with Makarora School (September 2023) promoting original place and bird names.
  • ABT is delighted to have been invited to provide a talk to Makarora School on their Endangered Species theme: Going, Going Gone! 8 August 2023.
  • Braided Rivers Seminar: Past, Present, and Future, Ko ngā wā o mua, Ko ngā wā e heke mai, nei, Ko tēnei wā, Lincoln University (5 July 2023).
  • ABT “Nature & the Element’s” exhibition at New Zealand’s 21st Mountain Film Festival, from 23-27 June 2023, Lake Wānaka Centre.
  • ABT has proudly been invited to present to the Otago Regional Branch of Birds New Zealand (25 April 2023), Dunedin.
  • Species Specialist Surveys Jan-May 2023 – Birds and Bats!
  • Biodiversity Educational Events with Intrepid Travel (monthly).
  • Whio (blue duck) monitoring with protected species dog assistance. Ongoing during 2022/2023 survey season informing Whio Recovery Site management for the Makarore/ Makarora and Ōtānenui/ Wilkin Catchment.
  • New Zealand Ecological Society Conference Presentation: Makarore Ōtānenui – A Revovery Site For Whio (Otago University, Nov 2022).
  • Annual Makarora Braided River Bird walkover survey, 15-18 Oct 2022.
  • ABT Bird Banding Workshop (Introduction) CPD series, Makarora (30 September –          1 October, 2022). Fully Booked from 15/09/22.
  • EIANZ 2022 : Symposium For New Zealand’s Biodiversity (1 Sept) Otago University.
  • Further invasive predator control reinforcements for identified whio protection – September 2022 with generous helicopter assistance from pilot Bill Day of Seaworks!

    Adult whio – Makarore/Otanenui Catchment
  • BRaid Seminar July 2022, Lincoln University.
  • NZ’s 20th Mountain Film Festival, Nature and Environment Premier – 26June 2022, Wanaka with: ABT’s Makarore Otanenui – A Biodiversity Challange.
  • New Zealand Ornithological Society Conference (4-5 June 2022) Christchurch.
  • Intrepid Tours Biodiversity Educational Event 9 May 2022 and throughout the upcomming season 2022/2023.
  • Predator Control extensions and installation of Zip Motolure’s for predator monitoring at key threatened species locations. March – May 2022.
  • The 2nd “Makarora Field Course” in continued partnership with Operation Wallacea from 7-13 and 13-19 January 2022. *Postponed* (due to Covid 19).
  • Bat Surveying from Jan 2022 with visit from Catriona Gower, Catlins Bat Project 7-8 Jan 2022.
  • Makarore Cultural Heritage and Biodiversity Field Course a joint Aspiring Biodiversity Trust/ Kai Tahu event aligning with Kai Tahu world view, Te Reo, endemic biodiversity and habitat restoration from 5 – 9 December 2021.

    Tuna/ eel monitoring at the Makarora delta with Kai Tahu. Net being set and baited before dusk.
  • Bicultural Practice and Engagement Workshop  attendance (4 November) Wanaka Hub.

    Image by Danette Abraham-Tiatia at Wanaka Hub Workshop
  • Whio Walkover Surveys with protected species survey dog and her handler (Nov – March 2022).
  • Rock wren/ Pīwauwau monitoring observations and surveys Nov – April 2022.

    Rock wren male (South Island) Wonderland (2021).
  • Upper River to Alpine invasive predator control for rock wren and whio protection: Oct 2021 – April 2022.
  • Annual Braided River Bird Walkover Survey 15 – 18 October 2021, subsequent nest monitoring and juvenile banding throughout the season.

    Black-billed gull (rarest gull in the world) nests on the Makarora River 2021
  • “Welcome Back the Birds”  on 2 October 2021 – celebrate the start of spring with us (more details to follow).
  • Yoga and Nature Immersion Retreat 23-24 October 2021, Makarora in collaboration with Breath Gives Life. Get in touch for the full wellbeing retreat itineray.
  • Invasive (riparian) weed control maintaining braided river habiatat in partnership with WAI Wanaka (spring/summer 2021 & 2022).
  • Postponed: Biodiversity Update with Makarora School 31 August 2021.
  • “ABT are Excited” to have been nominated as one of three finalist today (29 July 2021) for the Cawthorn Institute River Award 2021. Keep posted to find out more! Award Ceromony Novemeber 2021 – Wellington.

An adult black-fronted tern (endangered) on return to the Makarore braided river for the breeding season.
  • 2021 Braided Rivers Sympossium Lincoln University, 14 July.
  • Cawthorn River Award (8 July 2021). ABT are delighted to have been nomination this year, we look forward to hearing more in August! 🙂
  • Biodiversity update with Makarora School May 2021.
  • Predator Control Optimisation Workshop 18 May 2021 – Queenstown Kiwi Conservation Centre with Predator Free NZ Trust.
  • Ngai Tahu Knowledge Exchange 16 April 2021 at Makarora following the Festival of Colour session – Mapping the Ancestral Landscapes of Te Waipounamu (15 April) held in Wanaka.

    Rachel Hufton with Paulette Tamati-Elliffe and whānau where the Otanenui meets the Makarore April 2021.
  • Braided River invasive predator control (monthly) for lower Wilkin and Makarora River. Intensification for Makarora River April/May 2021.
  • Siberia/ Crucible and Upper Wilkin Valley pre-winter invasive predator control trap servicing and maintenance March – April 2021.
  • Rock wren monitoring December 2020 – April 2021.
  • Braided river invasive mammal predator control extensions Feb/March.
  • Upper river catchment whio surveys Jan/Feb 2021 & 2022 with Kip and Cody Thyne.

    Cody with Pip protected species survey dog, Wonderland Valley.
  • The exciting Makarora Field Course in conjunction with Operation Wallacea 10 – 16 January 2021. An opportunity to learn hands on biodiversity survey skills and ecological survey data analysis and presentation techniques. Get in touch to find out more and secure your place (numbers limited).

    Makarora Field Course Camp nestled below the stunning Mt Shrimpton.

” Bat Survey Event’s” 

  • Specialist bat surveyor Ian Davidson Watts visits Makarora 2 January 2021.

Find out about bat ecology and New Zealand’s only endemic mammals. Community bat talk and walk sheduled for 18 December 2020.

  • Bat survey work from November (subject to weather conditions).
Lesser short-tailed bat during field trip with the Australasian Bat Conference 2020.
  • Celium remote trap technology extensions and rock wren monitoring within the upper Wilkin 9 – 12 November.
  • Annual braided river bird walkover survey 14 -17 October (subject to weather conditions) and subsequent nest monitoring of key species during the breeding season.
  • Braided river buffer trapline additions (Oct/Nov).
  • Predator Control Intensification (August/September 2020) for rock wren, kea and whio protection with helicopter assistance from Bill Day (Seaworks).
Newly assembled invasive mammal predator control traps to be installed to help protect endangered rock wren, kea and whio.
  • Biodiversity Workshop with The Terrace School, Alexandria, Otago (29 July 2020).
  • Biodiversity Update with Makarora School (22 July 2020) Setting the scene for the upcomming season and launch of Kaka Watch!
  • National Braided River Symposium  (8 July 2020, Lincoln University) Aspiring Biodiversity Trust are delighted to have been invited to present at this important event for: Advances and emerging issues in managing braided river ecosystems.
  • Australasian Bat Conference 8-10 March 2020, Te Anua, South Island.
  • Invasive mammal predator control for rock wren, kea, and whio protection (ongoing throughout the breeding season). Braided river predator control trap servicing – monthly (all seasons). Volunteers required, full training provided.
  • Whio/ blue duck walkover surveys (Jan-April 2020) with certified protected species survey dog – Hoki with Paul Van Klink.

    Hoki (whio detector survey dog) in action
  • NZ Ecological Society Conference Poster Presentation 2-5 December 2019  at Lincoln University, Stewart Building. Conference theme Ngā Koiora o Konei / Biodiversity Where We Are, recognising the dire state of biodiversity at global, national and local levels, and the pressing need to document, understand and conserve biodiversity where we live.

    New Zealand Ecological Society Conference poster review session, Lincoln University.
  • Rock wren monitoring (alpine transects and colour banding) November 2019 – April 2020. Volunteers required, please get in touch for further details.
  • Annual braided river bird walkover survey (potential dates) 13 – 16 October 2019 and following nest monitoring of key species during breeding season.

    Wrybill nest site with two grey- blue eggs (Makarora River)
  • Whio protection trapping regime installation September/ October 2019 with ensuing trap servicing visit from November.
  • Biodiversity Seminar for One Day School at Clyde, 14 August 2019.        “Thank you so much for today, Rachel.  It was such a beneficial presentation  for our topic this term. Many students have added more to their presentation tasks from your seminar.” 
  • OSNZ/ Birds NZ presentation to Otago branch, Dunedin University, Zoology Dept on 22 May 2019 for “International Biodiversity Day”
  • Forest bird monitoring  programme ongoing
  • Whio/ blue duck survey February 2019
  • Alpine remote trap monitoring technology installation with Encounter Solutions Ltd February 2019.

    Encounter Solutions Celium remote monitoring hub with ABT’s Rachel – Upper Wilkin, Makarora.


  • Rock wren protection trapping regime – provisional  installation dates 21 – 23 November (Crucible Basin) and 5 – 7 December (Castalia/ Lucidus) *weather dependant. Looking for volunteers for ongoing maintenance within the alpine environment.
Female rock wren collecting invertebrates at Crucible Basin
  • Braided river bird survey 14 – 16  or 23 – 25 October 2018 – volunteers wanted (expenses covered). Email: for further info.
Wrybill chick
  • “Wai Maori” ENVIROSCHOOLS Teachers Hui  19 September 2018

Wanaka Primmary School

Aspiring Biodiversity Trust are delighted to have been invited to present on “Wai Maori’ te ro for freshwater at the next Enviroschools teachers Hui in Wanaka. Talk will include the importance of freshwater for sustaining the biodiversity of life in relation to ABT’s threatened species programmes within the Makarora catchment and promote future biodiversity educational programmes.

  • “Welcome back the birds” Biodiversity Event 8th September 2018

Makarora Tourist Centre 9:30 am

Come and celebrate the start of spring and hear about Makarora’s amazing biodiversity, including the return of unique braided river birds that breed here each year. We also have guest speaker Dean Nelson from Twizel, head of Project River Recovery and the Kaki Restoration Programme.

Event includes morning tea, light lunch and afternoon field trip on the braided river and is open to all. For more details and programme schedule see link below. Enquires or bookings please contact: 0210510240 or email

Welcome back the birds

  • “The Flock” will be hosted at Makarora School on 4 th September 2018. ABT will be assisting students at Makarora and from Haast School with making their own flock and helping the children learn about endangered braided river birds and bird migration. Birds made by the students will also be displayed at the “Welcome back the birds” event on the following Saturday and will then migrate to to form a visitor center display in the Makarora DOC building.
Part of “the flock” on the Makarora River
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