Questions and Answers

Get your questions about the Abel Tasman National Park answered by Project Janszoon and DOC experts.

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Q: Hello Janszoon, I was wondering how much vegetation do possums consume daily, what type of horrible things do they do to effect the environment, and how many native birds do they kill each year.


A: Hi, possums are big eaters. In one year a possum will eat 20 shopping bags of vegetation, leaves and fruit. When you think that there are about 30 million possums in New Zealand that is a lot of forest disappearing every night.


Q: Dos Janszoon put transmitters on other
animals then snails?


A: Hi, thanks for your question. Yes we do put transmitters on birds like kaka so we can see where they go and that they are ok.


Q: where is the note book?


A: You can find a notebook 2 ways. 1. click the 3 bars in the top left of your screen. That will bring up a list. Go to the word 'Schools' and click. You'll see the school notebooks! Now just click on what else you want to see. 2. On the front page, just click the icon that looks like a book and has the words 'Adopt a Section Partners' on it. The next page you see will have the school notebooks on it. Have fun!

Wendy, Project Janszoon Education

Q: hi tara here my sister was wondering what Wekas eat?
I know that Wekas eat worms and bugs, but do they also eat plants?


A: Weka are 'omnivores' and 'opportunists'. This means they will eat a wide range of food. Weka are also very inquisitive. This helps them find new food options when their environment changes.

In Nelson, where weka are now more common in town and around neighbourhoods, there are reports of them eating cat food, chook food and even goldfish! In a more natural environment weka feed from fruiting plants and invertebrates (bugs!) they find near the surface of the soil. Long dry summers are hard for weka. This is because the low hanging fruit they can reach disappears and invertebrates go deeper into the soil to look for moisture - which makes it hard for a weka to reach them.

So while weka won't feed on leaves and shoots, they are happy with soft, nutritious fruit.

Pete, Project Janszoon Ornithologist

Q: hi kier here random question do piwakawaka like flax nector


A: No, they don't like flax nectar. Piwakawaka are obligate insectivores (this means that they only eat insects). Actually, they only eat flying ones!

Pete, Project Janszoon Ornithologist

Q: We found this on the beach at Anchorage... No one knows what it is... Do you? It was about 3 - 4cm long. And liked it when it was put in shallow ocean water.


A: This looks like it is a fireworm. The French biologist Jean Louis Quatrefages described the NZ species for the first time in 1855. Fireworms have external gills on both sides of their backs, and they are covered with fine, sharp and venomous bristles. Adult fireworms are often colorful like this one. They use little paddles, called parapodia, to move around. Not much is known about fireworms, but they are thought to be nocturnal scavengers that crawl around on the deep ocean sea floor. Interestingly, there was a big wash up of these recorded at Allan's Beach on the Otago Peninsula in May 2016. I’ve never seen a fireworm before, so it's a great find. Well done! Just a quick reminder that marine species like this one can be venomous, so it's best not to handle them.

Stew, Marine Biologist, Abel Tasman Eco Tours

Q: How many bird releases have the people of the park done?

nature geek

A: As of May 2016 here have been 6 releases of birds into the Abel Tasman National Park with the help of Project Janszoon: Three kakariki releases from our aviary at the top of the Park have happened since June 2014, with a total of 38 birds who were bred in captivity being released. There has been one release of saddleback from Motuara Island onto Adele Island in September 2014. Then we had our first release of 4 female South Island kaka in November 2015, with another 4 kaka released in April 2016. Sometimes we move birds from one area to another area in the Park. This happened with South Island robin at the end of April 2016 when we took 34 robins from Adele Island to the mainland near Te Puketea. Since those birds aren't new to the Park, they aren't included in the release numbers.

Rosemary , Project Janszoon Aviculturist

Q: Hi Rhys here from Motupipi school
how many Kea have you seen in the park

nature geek

A: Personally, I haven't seen any kea in the park. However I have frequently seen and heard them on the fringes. Just earlier this week I saw one at close quarters in Canaan Scenic Reserve and I wonder if they are breeding in the forest nearby. Hard to say how many might be resident in the park and thereabouts - perhaps 3-4 pairs and their youngsters.

Pete, Project Janszoon Ornithologist

Q: Hi Phoebe here
how many little blue penguins have you seen at taupo point.

Tui twitter

A: Thanks for your question, Phoebe. I haven’t seen any little blue penguins at Taupo Point recently, but there will be some nesting ones just to the north towards Whariwharangi.

Simon, DOC Senior Ranger

Q: in Wainui Bay, what types of birds are nearest to the beach and what do they eat?


A: Most shorebirds that are seen close to the water's edge in the Abel Tasman National Park will be oystercatchers. There are two types - the 'variable oystercatcher' is usually all black and the 'pied oystercatcher' is black and white (see the photo above). They probe their beaks into the sand looking for worms and small shellfish. I don't think they catch oysters very often!

Pete, Project Janszoon Ornithologist

Q: Hi there, here in room five at Motupipi school we are wondering how many people use the ATNP walking track each year? We've visited the park recently and that got us thinking about how the amount of traffic might impact on the park?

Pondering this

A: Great question, Room 5! DOC doesn't actually know how many people walk the track in the ATNP. They do have an idea about how many people visit the Park each year. This comes from information such as water taxi, hut and campsite bookings. From July 2014 to June 2015 DOC estimates that 228,000 people visited the Abel Tasman. Of those, approximately 168,000 people only visited the Park for 1 day. Track counters are used in some areas. A track counter is a pad that gets placed on the track, then people walk over it and it counts them. DOC doesn't really have data on visitors to many specific places in the Park, such as Taupo Point. That might be a project your class would like to get involved with. What do you think?

Wendy, Project Janszoon Education

Q: Two questions on kiwi:
Q1: Hi Dante here from Motupipi School. I wanted to ask how many kiwi have you found in the National park. I am interested because I think I have seen some kiwi tracks in the bush and I wanted to find a kiwi in the night. It would be fascinating!
Q2: Hi Phoebe here from Motupipi school. Some people say that there are kiwis at Taupo Point are their kiwis there?


A: And two answers!
A1: We have tried very hard to find kiwi in the Abel Tasman. I have listened to recordings that turned out to be morepork screeches and have even had likely poo analysed by DNA - which turned out to be weka poo! We also put out special sound recorders, but the analysis of all the sonograms showed everything but kiwi! If there are no kiwi in the Park it would be fascinating to know why - especially when there are sub-fossil remains of kiwi in some of the caves. Your question continues to fascinate bird researchers in the Abel Tasman.
A2: There's a little saying about wildlife observations - "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". Which means no one has seen or heard them there yet!

Pete, Project Janszoon Ornithologist

Q: Which pest is the most destructive?


A: Hi Wondering, That's a really good question, but a hard one to answer! There's actually not one single pest which is the most destructive in the Abel Tasman. However, the top three are probably rats, stoats and possums. Rats really go after our smaller birds and their eggs. They also love to eat our native powelliphanta snails, as well as seeds and fruit that birds would eat. Stoats are killing machines that especially go after our medium and large birds - eggs too. Possums eat our native bush and also compete with our birds for food. Believe it or not, a single possum can actually kill a whole tree - a really big one.

Chris, DOC Senior Ranger

Q: Hi, riley and Rhys here from Motupipi school. we recently went into ATNP and saw some pig rooting. We want to know how many pigs have you seen in the Park?

Pondering this

A: Thanks for your question, Riley and Rhys! I've never seen any pigs in the Park personally, but I've seen heaps of evidence that they are there: rooting! And sometimes you can see pig tracks too, especially in the sand. Pigs are pretty secretive and they try to stay out of sight. One of the ways we are able to 'see' them is by setting up motion activated cameras in the bush. This pig was photographed by a motion activated camera at night, which is why the picture looks so dark and its eyes are reflecting the flash.

Wendy, Project Janszoon Education

Q: What type of animals live in the Able Tasman


A: Wow, there are heaps of animals in the ATNP!! These range from native invertebrates (such as weta and Powelliphanta), lizards (such as forest geckos) and birds (such as South Island robin), to introduced pest animals, which do a lot of damage to the Park. The worst pest animals in the Park are possums, rats and stoats, but there are also pigs, goats, deer, and cats. All of these pest animals eat either the forest plants so they can’t regenerate or grow back, or they eat the native animals. So we would definitely prefer if these pest animals didn't live in the Park at all!! Take a look at the "The Park" section of the Project Janszoon web site ( to see some of the animals you'll find in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Rebecca, DOC Partnerships Ranger

Q: Do all of the seeds used in the reforestation project come from Abel Tasman National Park? If not, where else are they sourced from? Also, how do you decide which species to plant in each location?

Mr MacKenzie

A: Yes, all the plants used in reforestation projects in the ATNP are ecosourced. Ecosourcing means that seeds are taken from native plants in the same area as the restoration project. Ecosourcing is often used in restoration projects because locally sourced plants are thought to be more likely to survive than those from further away. This is because native species are often better adapted to their local conditions. See more on ecosourcing at:

In some rare instances, local seed sources for a particular species have become threatened or may even be extinct in an area. For example, some of the last remaining pingao in Golden Bay is on Farewell Spit. This means that most pingao planted in Golden Bay comes from the Farewell Spit source population.

When there is a limited population of a specific plant it can mean that it has an extremely limited gene pool. In these situations it may be a good idea to supplement the seed collected from your local plants with seeds from further away, or collect seed from the nearest known healthy population. By adding plants from other places, and expanding the gene pool, you are able to future proof your planting against environmental changes or diseases that could otherwise threaten the new planting.

The species chosen to be planted at restoration sites are plants which would have grown in that location naturally - before man-made changes occurred, such as fires, land clearance, drainage, the introduction of pest animals that eat native plants, and the introduction of weeds that often out-compete native plants.

We know what was previously growing at the site by researching historic maps and descriptions, and using pollen records from the time before humans arrived.

Rebecca, DOC Partnerships Ranger

Q: When do the godwits leave Golden Bay on their trip to Alaska? Do they join up with the godwits from the Motueka sand spit?

Motupipi Room 4

A: Godwits start leaving Golden Bay in early March but some birds don't leave until later in the month.

You will notice that the birds moult into a striking breeding plumage before they depart (see photos). I'm not sure whether the flocks from Golden Bay and Motueka join together on the way north. When they arrive in Japan and Korea to feed in the estuaries the godwits definitely meet up.

The timing for their trip to northern Alaska is quite important. Godwits leave Japan and Korea in May to breed. We think that the godwits who leave New Zealand early, also make the flight to Alaska earlier. They fly to the southern parts of Alaska where the snow has melted. The godwits that leave NZ later tend to breed further north in Alaska where the snow melts later.

Some of the younger godwits don't migrate from NZ. So you may still see a few of these less coloured birds in Golden Bay and Motueka right into winter.

There are many websites about godwit migration but this is one of my favourites

Pete, Project Janszoon Ornithologist

Q: I've heard about giant snails in the Abel Tasman, but I've never seen one. Do they really exist?

#1 Scout

A: They sure do! Powelliphanta snails live near the top of the park in the Canaan area. Mammal pests such as rats and possums think Powelliphanta are a delicious treat. We hope that our pest control work in the Park will help more of them survive.These big snails are nocturnal, so it's rare to see them out during the day. They hide under the leaf litter where it is dark and damp. If you search carefully, you may be able to find one. If you do, send us a picture! The photo you see here was taken in July 2014 by Mike L, a Motupipi Primary student who lives near the Park.

Wendy, Project Janszoon Education

Q: I saw this bug in a tree near the track to Te Puketea. What is it?

Curious KiwiKid

A: What great eyes you have to spot this insect camouflaged in a rimu tree! This is a native Prickly Stick Insect. It is also called a Black-spined Stick Insect. They come in green and brown, but they don't change colour.

Wendy, Project Janszoon Education