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Why It Matters

Martins Bay – Whakatipu Waitai - in the lower Hollyford Valley has an incredible diversity of native ecology, both marine and terrestrial. The area also holds a rich and fascinating heritage, Maori and Pakeha (European).

Lying at the end of The Hollyford Track, the area receives thousands of visitors every year. Some are hosted by Ngai Tahu Tourism on a private 3 day walking and jetboating journey ( Hollyford Track ); and many more come on their own terms - fishermen, freedom trampers, hunters, whitebaiters, general recreationalists and many from the various runanga of Ngai Tahu.

This is a unique community of visitors and residents who all care deeply for the restoration of the area’s ecology. Read on to understand why.

Biodiversity Hotspot

This is the southern limit of South Westland forest and the northern limit of Fiordland forest types: mixed beech, podocarp and broadleaf forest with some remaining fuchsia. Southern rata – once prolific - are in decline, an important food source for kaka, kea, tui and bellbirds. Some remaining mistletoe still exists, as does a rich array of orchids and fungi.

The McKenzie lagoon, wetland and surrounding Oioi rush-land is regarded by fresh water ecologists as internationally significant. This is an important habitat for many wetland birds including the rare kotuku, or white heron, and nesting site for many others.

The dune community along the stretch of coast at Martins Bay is a prime location for pingao, or native dune grass. This is also nesting habitat for a wide range of seabirds.

The lower Hollyford Valley is the only place in New Zealand where bottlenose dolphins swim into a fresh water lake, pods moving from the Tasman Sea, up the lower Hollyford River to the head of the Lake McKerrow.

A healthy colony of fur seals is at Long Reef, with nearby habitat for the rare Fiordland crested penguins.

The forest here is home to karearea, or New Zealand falcon, kereru (wood pigeon), kea, kaka (all in decline) and many other Fiordland bird species, many of which are endangered.

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Whakapapa

Whakatipu Waitai, also known as Whakatipu Kotuku is a place of immense significance to Ngai Tahu. Evidence of the extent of early occupation is noted in the various archaeological reports that have been compiled, but more importantly such values still exist on the landscape today.

Whakatipu Waitai was home to the 19th century fighting Chief Tūtoko and his whanau. Tūtoko had participated in the Ngai Tahu struggle to gain control of pounamu (greenstone) and mana whenua status (territorial status) over the Tai Poutini (West Coast). In 1863 Captain Daniel Alabaster met Chief Tūtoko at Martins Bay and named his daughters Sara and May. Dr. James Hector, the first provincial geologist of Otago, visited later the same year and named the hills either side of the bay after the two daughters.

The highest peak in Fiordland, among the Darran Range overlooking the Hollyford Valley, was named after Chief Tūtoko

One of the Hollyford Conservation trustees, Kara Edwards, is a seventh generation descendant from Chief Tūtoko.

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European History

Either side of the lower Hollyford River and in an area known as Jamestown on Lake McKerrow are 19 freehold sections of land. These private landholdings date back to an attempt, albeit unsuccessful, to settle the area of Martins Bay and Jamestown in the 1860s. It was thought that the area could provide a west coast port to service the Otago goldfields. The settlement failed because of the lack of road access and not least because of the notorious river entrance.

One family remained, the McKenzies, subsistence farming into the 1920s when they were bought out by the famous runholder, Davey Gunn. Davey Gunn ran cattle in the area until he drowned crossing the Hollyford River on Christmas Day in 1955. He also pioneered guided tramping trips through the valley, the precursor of today’s commercial operation.

Fiordland National Park absorbed most of Davey Gunn’s cattle run, but the 19 sections remained with freehold title, each bounded by Fiordland National Park. Most of the trustees on the Hollyford Conservation Trust are landholders of these few pieces of private land.

Still accessible today are the remnants of the historic site of the McKenzie homestead, in the dunes behind Martins Bay beach. Near Jamestown can be found the remains of a cemetery, testament to those who struggled and lost their lives and their loved ones trying to survive in the harsh and inhospitable climate and conditions.

Few of today’s landholders at Martins Bay live here year round. Most of us come and go, but all have an enduring passion and sense of guardianship for the restoration of the ecology of our Fiordland turangawaewae.

There are many excellent books on the area. We recommend:

“Pioneers of Martins Bay” – Alice McKenzie

“Hidden Water” – Philip Houghton

“The Land of Doing Without” – Julia Bradshaw

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Hollyford Conservation Trust Newsletter #2

If you will be in Martins Bay on 5 September then please join us at the Lodge for a celebration to mark the first anniversary of the Hollyford Conservation Project.

Further details are in our second newsletter, which also includes articles on project progress across all areas of the operation and a brief explanation about our choice of pest control methodology.

Read more on Hollyford Conservation Trust Newsletter #2…

Hollyford Conservation Trust Newsletter #2

If you will be in Martins Bay on 5 September then please join us at the Lodge for a celebration to mark the first anniversary of the Hollyford Conservation Project.

Further details are in our second newsletter, which also includes articles on project progress across all areas of the operation and a brief explanation about our choice of pest control methodology.

Read more on Hollyford Conservation Trust Newsletter #2…

Hollyford Conservation Trust Newsletter #2

If you will be in Martins Bay on 5 September then please join us at the Lodge for a celebration to mark the first anniversary of the Hollyford Conservation Project.

Further details are in our second newsletter, which also includes articles on project progress across all areas of the operation and a brief explanation about our choice of pest control methodology.

Read more on Hollyford Conservation Trust Newsletter #2…