Otari-Wilton's Bush Trust members and volunteers have been pivotal to the conservation and development of this precious native bush and forest. Their efforts have also inspired similar work elsewhere in the region, with over 100 restoration projects now ongoing
in wider Wellington. Here are just some of the Trust's projects:


Otari led the way in forest restoration with the Kaiwharawhara Stream project begun in the early 2000s, the Trust's largest initiative to date. Aimed at restoring the unique ecosystem of the main stream flowing through Otari, the project involves:


  •  improving the biodiversity of the valley floor
  •  encouraging native birds and insects to flourish once again
  •  preventing erosion & improving water quality
  •  preventing the downstream spread of pest plants
  •  improving the valley's scenic values
  •  providing a learning experience for all those involved.


Planting started in 2001, and by 2006 over 35,000 native trees had been grown from locally sourced seed and planted in the valley. This has been followed by regular subsequent plantings and monthly maintenance, now focusing efforts at the south end of the stream.


The work inspired neighbouring groups to Otari to join forces to create an eco corridor in the valley, running the length of the stream from Karori through Otari and Wellington's western suburbs to its outlet at the western shore of Wellington Harbour.


The project was initially supported by grants from the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council. Now the work continues thanks to Trust volunteers who hold monthly working parties at the site.


Individuals and groups turned a mammoth task into a great success, and the Trust thanks all those who have supported the project with their enthusiasm and energy.

Kaiwharawhara native forest restoration at Otari



Rat control at Otari Wilton's Bush native reserve
Jim Tait Otari Wilton's Bush Trust doing pest control at Otari Wilton's Bush native reserve

Photo: Lynley Trower



This is a joint undertaking between volunteers and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. The main targets are opossums, mustelids (stoats and weasels), Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) Ship rats (Rattus rattus) and hedgehogs.


These predators can collectively kill a forest by eating the vegetation, by preventing regeneration of new forest by eating flowers and seeds, and by eating insects and invertebrates. In doing so they deprive the birds of food. Of course, they also eat the birds and their eggs.


There are now 82 bait stations in the Otari Wilton’s Bush plus many more in surrounding reserves, as well as to the west out to the coast.  These target opossums and rats and are serviced by Regional Council staff. They are located well off the tracks attached to trees. Dogs must be kept on the leash as some pellets will inevitably be dislodged by opossums and rats.




 The bait station network in Otari was set up in 1997.  In 2007 a trap network was set up using the DOC200 trap and this is overseen by volunteers who operate under the name  'RAMBO' – Rats and Mustelids Blitzing Otari.  Because the traps are primarily targeted at stoats and weasels they are on a wide spacing as those animals have a large range. They also get a lot of rats and hedgehogs. There are now 72 traps both within Otari-Wilton’s Bush as well as along the Skyline through to Johnston’s Hill Reserve, and Karori Cemetery. These traps are over six trap lines looked after by 12 volunteers.


The Regional Council also does bi-annual monitoring of predator levels using some 65 tracking tunnels in Otari Wilton’s Bush. In the latest results (Feb 2020) only 2% of tracking tunnels showed rat activity and none showed mustelid activity. Some 3% showed hedgehog activity.  The rat activity level has been below the Regional Council target of 10% for several years now which is good for native flora and fauna. Of course the real measure of success is the increase in bird life and increasing numbers of new seedlings.







The predator control carried out in Otari-Wilton’s Bush is a small part of a bigger predator control effort.  As already noted there are Regional Council bait stations in all surrounding Reserves. The RAMBO trap lines meet up with the traps looked after by the KATCH22 group to the south, and the Crofton Downs Predator Free Community group to the north.


On the Skyline the Capital Kiwi project has their traps with those of the existing groups so they provided larger DOC250 traps (for ferrets) and the RAMBO trap spacing was tightened.


Also along the Sky Line is a line of Timms traps from Kaukau to Karori aimed at preventing opossums from re-invading, and RAMBO volunteers look after the section from Johnston’s Hill Reserve to above Chartwell.


Finally, as part of Predator Free Wellington, backyard trapping programmes have been set up in the suburbs around Otari Wilton’s Bush which will limit re-invasion from houses into the bush reserves.


While the bait station program is the responsibility of the Regional Council and in Otari volunteers are not involved, the various trapping programmes on Council Reserves come under the Wellington City Council which means volunteers have to adhere to Council health and safety policies. Other than that, RAMBO is left to continue its work, with most support coming from the Otari Wilton’s Bush Trust.




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