Environmental projects receive $60k from community tourism grants

by Lauren Pattemore - Jun 18, 2024

The recipients of new grant have been announced today by Lake Wānaka Tourism and Destination Queenstown with seven environmental projects getting a collective $60,000 funding boost. 

The two tourism bodies established the community funds, called Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka, in April 2023 as the first step in the destination management plan, and to provide a way for visitors to the district to voluntary donate to climate, conservation, and biodiversity action happening locally.

The Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka co-ordinator Ash Bickley says that they couldn't be happier to be working together across the visitor industry to support these initiatives.

Four organisations on the receiving end are Wānaka based, and the remaining three in Queenstown with Te Kākano Aotearoa, Wānaka Backyard Trapping, WAI Wānaka; Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group, Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, Tāhuna-Glenorchy Dark Skies Group and Whakatipu Wildlife Trust.

In addition to the collected $60,000, the Wakatipu Community Foundation also contributed $15,000 into an endowment fund and it's chief executive Jennifer Belmont says it will ensure these environmental efforts can continue to be supported in the future. 

The funds were collected through visitor advertising at the airport, on the tourism websites, and through supporting local hospitality and tourism businesses in the district.

The two tourism bodies say the Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown campaigns reached over 5 million people as well as listing local volunteering opportunities, and more than 400 roles were shared in the first 12 months.

This included 5 volunteer planting days held across the district, where a total of 4,415 native trees and shrubs were planted by a total of 285 volunteers.

Destination Southern Lakes says every piece of action, no matter how small, is to be celebrated and encouraged.

"We wish the recipients all the best with their endeavours and look forward to continuing our work in this space.” 

2024 Funding Recipients


Whakatipu Reforestation Trust - $9,135 Slope Hill Restoration Efforts

The Whakatipu Reforestation Trust is on a mission to restore native biodiversity in the Whakatipu Basin through native revegetation efforts, education, and advocacy. With 90% of our indigenous plant cover already lost, their mission could not be more critical.

In March 2024, 7,000 trees were planted on Slope Hill through a collaborative 4-day event, with Love Queenstown rallying over 100 industry volunteers to lend a hand.

This funding will support Whakatipu Reforestation Trust’s ongoing efforts at Slope Hill, and, importantly, will fund the irrigation that’s essential to ensuring these new plants survive in their first three years, and beyond.

Tāhuna Glenorchy Dark Skies Group - $6,345 Rees Valley Conservation Efforts

The Tāhuna Glenorchy Dark Skies Group will soon receive its designation as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary - one of only 17 in the world. Their mission is to preserve the Dark Skies as an international Dark Sky Sanctuary for current and future generations and to care for the biodiversity within the Sanctuary.

This funding will enable the Dark Skies Group to begin essential conversation efforts in the Rees Valley through a research and conservation programme focused on the endemic short-tailed bat.

 Whakatipu Wildlife Trust - $10,000 Pest Eradication Efforts

The Whakatipu Wildlife Trust works with community volunteers and local environmental organisations to support, connect, and foster predator control efforts throughout the Queenstown-Lakes region. They represent an important and unified voice for wildlife in the Whakatipu Basin, passionately working to protect our native bird and wildlife species.

With over 35 critically endangered species throughout our region, this work is vitally important. The Love Queenstown funding will further support the Trust’s efforts to create a predator-free environment in the Whakatipu Basin via the purchase of additional traps, bait, and equipment so our native wildlife to flourish.


Te Kākano Aotearoa - $10,000 Native Revegetation Programmes

Te Kākano is a charitable Trust that eco-sources native seeds from the Upper Clutha area, raises seedlings in their extensive nursery, and facilitates community-based native planting and habitat restoration events throughout the year. They are passionate about connecting communities to their land, and have done so with incredible success over their 15-year history.

This grant will support their ongoing efforts in this space, enabling their team to continue leading their important mahi on the ground.

 WAI Wānaka - $7,920 “Our Drains are Streams” Waterway Health Project

WAI's purpose is to accelerate community action for fresh water, helping them achieve their vision of healthy ecosystems and community wellbeing for future generations.

WAI is an organisation made up of passionate individuals who work on the ground with individuals, visitors, landowners, councils, businesses and schools to improve ecosystem health, reverse biodiversity loss and keep water healthy. Protecting our fresh water at the headwaters of the Mata-au is urgent.

This grant will support WAI's "Drains are Streams" project, supporting community education and installing Litta Traps in prominent locations across Wānaka’s stormwater networks.

Wānaka Backyard Trapping - $7,500 Predator Elimination Efforts

WBT's goal is to educate people about nature, reduce the number of pests in the region and protect precious native wildlife which is vulnerable to predators. They maintain 550 traps across 18 trap lines, with an additional 300 traps installed in backyards and on private land. These traps eliminate over 2,000 predators each year, with the support of over 100 active volunteers.

This grant will further support WBT's work, allowing them to expand their impact and maintain existing trap lines throughout the district.


Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group - $10,000 Wilding Pine Control

The Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group works with community groups and experienced contractors in the Wānaka and Hāwea areas to protect NZ native ecosystems and biodiversity from the threat of invasive plants like wilding conifers.

This grant will support the removal of wilding pines on the face of Mt Roy, protecting this iconic part of Wānaka's landscape from the threat of wildings.


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