The Brook Sanctuary is planning on opening its gates to visitors again in the late autumn. Photo: Supplied.

Brook Sanctuary close to complete

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It’s been a rocky road for the Brook Sanctuary to achieve pest-free status. In 2017 there were three drops of a total of 26.5 tonnes of brodifacoum-laced bait within its 14-km pest proof fence, along with numerous legal challenges and protests along the way.

But their vision is almost complete to eradicate rodents and reintroduce native wildlife into the 690 hectare piece of land. Kate Russell speaks with trust coordinator Kat Willcocks about what has been happening at the sanctuary since the last drop on October 18, and when locals can expect to take a peek inside.

How did the pest operation go? The pest removal operation went exactly as we hoped.

We’ve had no signs of any rats, mice or stoats since. We now have about 300 volunteers helping with the monitoring project, which involves checking 2700 devices to make sure there are no traces of pests inside the fence.

This will continue into autumn and we’ll carry out smaller scale monitoring indefinitely as part of the general management of the sanctuary. The closure has also given us the opportunity to improve our visitor track network and its signage.

When are you re-opening to the public? We hope to welcome the public back in to the sanctuary late autumn.

Before then we will be running guided tours in April/May which include glow worm walks, a fence-line 4WD experience, an uplands tour and a behind-the-scenes tour. It’s a great way to experience the sanctuary from a different point of view.

Will there be an entry charge? There will be no fixed charge to enter the sanctuary when we open to the public again.

There will be a suggested donation which people can give at the entrance gates. In the future, we will follow the example of all of other large, public, fenced sanctuaries in New Zealand and begin ticketed admission – but we are still in the long process of developing this structure and are keen to involve the public in these decisions.

Will security be tighter? Bio-security is our top priority and is vital to the safety of wildlife inside the sanctuary and of future wildlife reintroductions.

The gate will be monitored during opening hours and locked outside of those hours. We will also ask people to check their bags or prams before they come inside.

Will locals still be able to use the sanctuary for leisure? The sanctuary will still be a place for local people to enjoy. They will always be able to walk, run, picnic and play in the stream.

What is your vision? Our vision is to bring rare wildlife back, benefiting not only the birds but local children and the wider Nelson community.

For this vision to become a reality we need the fence and gates to be bio-secure and we need donations, memberships or gate revenues to help fund the conservation that is going on inside the fence. We want nothing more than for all of Nelson to come and experience the sanctuary and for people to see and get excited about the colourful future that lies ahead of us.

You can find out more about the sanctuary’s sneak peek guided tours by calling 546 2422 or by visiting The Brook Sanctuary Facebook page.