Rock wren, Sinbad Gully
Image: Sabine Bernert | ©


This project is helping increase native species in Sinbad Gully by reducing invasive pests.


Sinbad skink. Photo: James Reardon.
Sinbad skink

The Sinbad Sanctuary Project is a partnership among the New Zealand Nature Fund, the Fulton family, and DOC. Tourism operator Southern Discoveries and the Fiordland Conservation Trust kick-started the project in 2009.

Project aim

Sinbabd Sanctuary logo

nznaturefund.jpgThe project is focused on suppressing stoat, rat, and possum numbers to a level at which native species can thrive in the Sinbad Gully. The valley walls surrounding the Gully form a natural barrier against the re-invasion of these predators. This helps to make it a great place to trial innovative control techniques.

Why the Sinbad Gully is so special

The gully, which is next to the iconic Mitre Peak, is home to at least 20 different native bird species, including:

  • Fiordland tokeoka (Southern brown kiwi),
  • tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin), and
  • weka, whio, kiwi, mohua and kākā.

The valley is home to three species of threatened lizard. The star of which is the Sinbad skink, which is currently only known within this area.

Large native wētā and other invertebrates are also only known to the mountain ranges in this region.

The Sinbad Sanctuary Project aims to reintroduce more native species as mammalian pests are reduced through predator control.

Control methods and results

The Sinbad Sanctuary Project uses a variety of predator control methods including DOC 150 and DOC 200 traps, self-resetting traps and aerial 1080.

The Project has a robust monitoring programme including:

  • whio river surveys,
  • Fiordland tokoeka kiwi surveys, and
  • distance sampling of other wildlife.

These methods have seen the number of whio in Sinbad Sanctuary increase from one identified breeding pair to at least five. The number of kiwi estimated in the area also increased from 10 to 19 over just five years.

Populations of other species, such as the korimako/bellbird, pīwakawaka/fantail, kērērū, tui and weka, have also grown.

Future work

The native toutouwai/South Island robin is due to be reintroduced to Sinbad Gully during 2022/23. The re-introduction of more native species is planned for the future. Details will be announced and added to this webpage once confirmed.

Our partnership with the Fulton family

Jules Fulton says being involved in this conservation work has been the experience of a lifetime.

“Our family has been privileged to work with DOC on the Sinbad Gully Project since March 2021. [We] jumped at the opportunity to support this project until the tourism industry got going again…  

In the past 12 months [from June 2021 – 2022], our work with DOC to reduce predator numbers in the Sinbad Gully has been a wonderful and very rewarding experience.

We have helped DOC as a family to reset all 140 traps in the valley and we have undertaken both whio and kiwi counts. We have been privileged to work first-hand with DOC staff and to help on the ground.”

Rachel, Ben, Sue, Jules and Sarah Fulton
Credit: Jules Fulton

Learn more and get involved

Visit the New Zealand Nature Fund’s website to learn more about the conservation work they support across Aotearoa.

Back to top