Kārearea near Albert Town
Image: Graham Parker/Kārearea Project | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


The Albert Town end of the Upper Clutha Track near Wanaka is closed for the coming weeks to protect a pair of New Zealand falcon/kārearea nesting in the area.

Date:  08 October 2021

The pair, which have claimed a territory near Pawson’s Crossing, are believed to be the same pair that successfully nested there last year.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Ranger Caroline Ogle says it’s great to see threatened species making a home in the area, but cautions that during breeding season these birds of prey can become aggressive if threatened.

“Human health and safety-wise this pair are already quite vigorously defending the territory around their nest, divebombing walkers who get too close,” Caroline Ogle says.

“They have quite sharp talons so this can cause lacerations to people and dogs. Pairs that are regularly disturbed can get more aggressive over time, and can ultimately lead to females abandoning their nests.

“There is also a risk the kārearea can injure themselves – if they strike a cyclist’s helmet they may render themselves unable to fly or defend themselves against predators who are happy to make a meal out of them and their chicks.”

Kārearea are native to New Zealand and found nowhere else in the world. They are our most threatened bird of prey, Caroline says.

They nest during spring and summer, usually on the ground in a nest scrape. Incubation of the eggs, by both parents, is for 25 to 35 days. Chicks stay in the nest scrape until about 28 days of age.

“Try to stay clear of nesting falcons, but if they start to dive bomb turn around and go back in the direction you came from. If you have a hat, or are wearing a hoodie, put that on and hold a soft, bushy branch of vegetation above your head. The birds normally only attack threats to their nests in an approximately 60 m radius.”

The outcome of the Albert Town kārearea pair’s nesting attempt is being monitored for DOC and Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) by the Kārearea Project. It is included in their Cardrona Valley kārearea project. Last year, this pair were the only successful breeders of those monitored in the greater Cardona Valley area.

DOC, with the support of QLDC who are responsible for maintaining the Albert Town Reserve, have signposted the area warning users to steer clear. The warning is anticipated to be in place until December.  

“The best thing for everyone – humans, dogs and birds, is to give this pair the peace and privacy they need so we can all get through breeding season unscathed.”

Find further information about the Kārearea Project.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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