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The Kārearea Project

The kārearea is New Zealand’s only native falcon.


The Cardrona Kārearea Conservation Project is a community project lead by Cardrona Alpine Resort. The project is supported by the businesses and people of the valley who all share a passion for the environment and are keen to help conserve the kārearea and help it thrive. The project has scientific oversight by Parker Conservation who are experienced ornithologists and are authorities on kārearea. The project has links with Iwi, Department of Conservation, and other South Island kārearea projects. A huge thanks to Hugo Charitable Trust and The Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation for their support of the project.

Photo: Troy Tanner


The kārearea is New Zealand’s only native falcon species and is a taonga (treasure) within our environment. Also known as Sparrowhawks in some areas, the species is our most threatened bird of prey, with threats such as predation by introduced mammalian predators, loss of habitat and wide-ranging human impact. The totemic presence of kārearea in the Maunga of Te Waipounamu (mountains of the South Island) is of vital importance to our ecological, cultural and societal health.

There is a significant knowledge gap in our scientific understanding of kārearea in the alpine environment which inhibits conservation management. Simply put, we need to collect more data about the kārearea in order to understand how best to protect it. Our region has a small population of kārearea and presents an opportunity to develop a science-based conservation approach in tussock grassland mountain ecosystems. An integral component of this project is education and community engagement, with local school children, residents and visitors to the region being introduced to the kārearea through multiple platforms.

Click here to read our 2021 project report.

Photo: Troy Tanner

initial project plan

1. Gather knowledge of sightings:

  • Train people on how to identify & record kārearea.
  • Gather & understand local knowledge existing within the community.
  • Conduct targeted surveys for breeding pairs in spring/summer.
  • Work in conjunction with local residents and businesses at all times, respecting the diverse activities in the valley.

2. Locate breeding pairs

3. Locate & monitor nests

  • Install wildlife cameras to identify mammalian predators and monitor nest survival.
  • From an appropriate distance, check the area regularly to ensure the nest is still active.
  • Establish a trapping programme for nest site protection.

4. Gain insight on breeding population, habitat use & territory size

  • Leg band breeding adult kārearea to allow individual identification.
  • Leg band nestlings once they are sufficiently developed.

5. Educate and Engage

  • Create a suite of quality interpretation panels for display throughout the valley.
  • Capture imagery & footage from the nest cams (without revealing locations)  and share through social media to create an online following.

In order to achieve real benefit, we will continue these actions for the next five years. We will investigate the potential for incorporating a postgraduate student into the project. In addition, we will publish the results of this project in scientific journals, so that this project will not only help the birds of this region but all across New Zealand.

How you can help - report your kārearea sightings below

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