Zipping into Conservation Week

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The search for a breeding pair of keas on Ben Lomond’s being given a boost by one of Queenstown’s most environmentally-conscious companies.

To celebrate Conservation Week this week, Ziptrek Ecotours has formed a partnership with the Kea Conservation Trust.

The company, which runs ziplining from platforms hugging the trees of Ben Lomond, is encouraging guests to donate to the trust, which protects the world’s only mountain parrot.

Kea Conservation Trust co-founder Tamsin Orr-Walker says funding is essential in helping identify kea nesting grounds, rescuing injured birds or dealing with those with a high lead content.

“The Wakatipu kea population is not well understood at the moment,” Orr-Walker says.

“Where Ziptrek is located on Ben Lomond there’s potentially a breeding pair of kea, so funds raised will be used to help research sightings and moni-toring.”

Ziptrek director Trent Yeo’s keen to get his company involved.

“Queenstown’s environment is at the heart of our business and we couldn’t imagine living and working in this stunning environment without giving something back,” he says.

“And, of course, the alpine parrot is something we can really get behind given our environment.”

Ziptrek’s also set up and monitors stoat and possum traps on course to rid the area of predators.

They eat native plants and ground-loving birds such as the beloved kea.

The ‘kill count’ sits at more than 120 to date.

Along with trust partnership, Ziptrek supports the Kiwi Birdlife Park, sponsoring its Tuatara enclosure.

Ziptrek guides will also spend Conservation Week clearing wilding pines, as well as planting 150 native trees up on course. The tours operate from non-native Douglas Firs.

“It’s a bit of a weird one and it was an internal conflict when we first started, but we realised we can use the non-native trees for good,” Yeo says.

“Under our ecological plan, we’re trying to reconnect the islands of native beech forest. So the wilding work we do is between those islands.”

It’s also assisting with planting 5000 native plants at Kiwi Birdlife Park.

“One of the key things for sustainability is to support other organisations that are doing good,” Yeo says.

Yeo built the business with his partners based on his love of nature and sustainability, before it was a marketing-must for companies to be green.

“It definitely challenges us to be creative about decisions we make, particularly for our supply chain and supply chain management – who we get stuff from and what their ethos is.

“Sometimes it takes more time and money but there’s also an opportunity to reduce costs.

“We basically don’t use any energy. Our whole system is a 12-volt low-energy system, which runs direct from solar panels on the trees – it runs things like WiFi network, camera systems, any charging required, and electromagnetic safety gates, so that’s all been designed to be really efficient.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz