Sophie, Megan and Hamish Howard at the opening of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary on Sunday. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Brook Sanctuary now open to public

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The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary is officially open to the public after a year-long pest removal operation.

The sanctuary, which spans 690 hectares of land and is the largest of its kind in the South Island is now home to many species of native bird including bellbird, tui, fantail, tomtit and robin.

It was closed in July last year to make way for a poison drop, which was protested by locals.

Trust coordinator Kat Willcocks says its been a massive effort from everyone involved to get it to the stage of bringing in the public.

“There’s been a huge effort, the volunteer effort especially has been insane.”

“We’ve had to do all new signage around the sanctuary, which is difficult to imagine if you haven’t been in.”

She says there were also around 1500 fence post sponsor plaques that have been screwed in by hand around the 14km fence line.

The sanctuary’s pest proof fence came under fire in 2016 when a slip damaged a large part of it but since then there has only been minor damage from weather events.

However, Kat says they are well equipped to deal with breaches.

“The fence is a really good design, but the thing is it runs through 14km of forest, so trees are going to fall down and that’s just part of what happens.”

She says the most important thing is being able to get the response there in a timely manner.

“We’ve got amazing volunteers we can call on if there’s a breach or a tree down that damages the fence in some way.”

“We can have it monitored, fixed and completely pest proof again in two hours.”

Inside the fence is now deemed ‘pest-free’ and Kat is excited to begin introducing missing wildlife species into the environment.

“We will be introducing kaka, and kiwi are also quite high up on the list. We are hoping that this year we will start getting the ball rolling.”

She says they have seen a huge increase in birdlife organically since removing pests from the sanctuary

“We’ve had really good organic increase of tomtits and fantails, those small vulnerable birds. That will be the key, they will continue to increase naturally.”

The sanctuary is open Saturday to Monday 10am- 4pm, depending on the weather.