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buy and restore an
Otatara Nature Reserve
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“Probably the largest and most important dune totara Forest is in Southland, at Otatara, where several large groves of both young and old trees reach the estuarine coast.” Philip Simpson, Totara: A Natural and Cultural History, Auckland University Press. Photo Credit: Jason Hosking
Time is not on our side with this one, but we know how passionate our amazing supporters are and we are sure, with your help, that we can secure another fantastic win for our native forests. We have until Wednesday 20th May to raise $1.5 million to save one of New Zealand’s most important wild places.
We have reached the deadline to buy Otatara Nature Reserve!

We were recently contacted by members of Otatara Landcare Group about an 80-hectare property in Otatara, just west of Invercargill. It borders the Oreti river and has been identified as one of the most important natural areas in Southland that is not already protected.

The area has largely been cleared of native forest, and the property itself has been farmed for many years. However, there are fragmented remnants of nationally important ecosystems still in place, and the property presents a fantastic opportunity for restoration.

We need your help to buy this important area. With the right management, we can then restore this precious part of Otatara to its former glory and protect it forever.

Otatara Nature Reserve

Photo credit Jason Hosking

The most valuable part of the property, from a conservation perspective, is an area of totara forest on sand dunes, which is a naturally rare ecosystem that is classified as nationally endangered. The property also contains localised areas of matai-pokaka-kahikatea forest.

Patches of this kind of ecosystem in the Otatara area are considered the best example of the sand dune totara and totara-matai sequence in New Zealand. This property has been identified as probably the largest remaining unprotected site of its type in Otatara, and possibly even across the whole country.

So, as you can see, it’s an area of considerable ecological importance, and is of national significance. It has remnant native forest, and the potential to regenerate naturally with careful management. It’s exactly the type of area that the Native Forest Restoration Trust was founded to protect and the opportunity to save it is one that we just can’t let pass by.

To reach our goal, we’re pulling out all the stops, and we will do everything we can to raise the necessary funds in time. With such a huge target and such limited time, we know that unfortunately we also have to have a contingency plan. Every dollar we raise will go directly to purchasing part of this important habitat and the more we can raise the more we can save, but if we have a shortfall we may not be able to save it all.

  • $282 could protect 150 square metres of this precious ecosystem and surrounding area, allowing it to recover and regenerate naturally.
  • $940 could protect 500 square metres, preserving some of the best example we have of a nationally endangered ecosystem.

And, although we know that this is not possible for everyone, we are always astounded by our supporters’ generosity, so if you or anyone that you know are able to help at a greater level, $18,800 could protect a whole hectare.

However much you are able to give to protect this precious piece of natural heritage will help to keep it safe forever.


With your help, this proposed nature reserve could provide habitat for our threatened fernbird as well as a multitude of other native birds. Photo credit Jason Hosking


As well as having significant ecological value, the property, once it is protected as a reserve, will also be accessible to the public to enjoy, and to local schoolchildren to visit and study on field trips. One local school has already been contacted and they are excited about the prospect of being able to teach and inspire their students in such an important part of our natural environment. We see this as another significant reason to protect this property – inspiring younger generations to understand the importance and value of our native forests is crucial.

Please donate whatever you feel you can – every dollar from this campaign will go directly towards saving part of this amazing habitat forever.