Winter is here! Inspiration, fun and conservation for the school holidays.

Community Wellbeing


Healthy Ecosystems

Jobs For Nature

Risks to our Catchment

Kids in the lake at sunset

Protecting our kārearea / native NZ falcon

Cardrona Action Group

Farmers in the Cardrona Valley have teamed up with local businesses, including Cardrona Skifield and the Cardrona Distillery, to develop a biodiversity plan for their valley. The Cardrona Valley is home to our kārearea, clutha flathead, orange-spotted gecko and lake skinks.

All of these species are nationally threatened or vulnerable. Landowners have banded together to protect these species and others – both flora and fauna. The Kārearea Project is currently undertaking monitoring, pest control and research to help the Cardrona Valley population flourish.

This group is also working on other environmental projects around water quality, riparian planting and rabbit control. To learn more about Action Groups in the Upper Clutha, click here.

Falcon landing on a post
NZ Falcon at Wingspan – photo Daniel Burgas

Spot a falcon

You can help us by reporting your sightings

Next time you’re driving through the Cardrona valley on your way to the skifield or to visit Queenstown, see if you can spot a kārearea!

How do you know it’s a falcon? Most of us living in the Upper Clutha region are familiar with the sight of kahu the harrier hawk gliding through the sky. Kārearea are less common and are therefore harder to spot.

Here are some tips to help you spot the difference:

  • The falcon is usually seen in active hunting flight, chasing small birds with rapid wing beats; whereas the harrier is mostly seen gliding over the ground searching for carrion and small prey. 
  • Falcons almost exclusively take live prey and are very rarely seen on the side of the road.
  • Harriers have a large 1 metre wingspan, falcons are much smaller and have a beautiful brown and white pattern on the underside of their wings (see image above). More tips in the links below.


Eels and girl looking at the water

In search of the funniest winter water photo!

During the Summer holidays we created a collection of fun activities around our local waterways for you to explore with your family or visitors. Most of them are lots of fun in the winter too. Check them out on our website here, or download the activity sheet. What are your favourite winter water activities? We would love to hear from you.

Send us your funniest photos from around our local waterways by the end of the holidays and go in the draw to win some extra large bubble mix and a bubble wand by local legend Flying Colours NZ. Email photos to 

Why does WAI Wānaka love water?

When you’re involved with a project it is easy to forget that people on the outside might not know what it is all about. Why does WAI care so much about water, for example? Let our future guardians tell you in this video.

Lake Hāwea at dusk
Feature photo of Lake Hāwea at dusk by our youngest WAI Wānaka ambassador – Fletcher Chisholm
If you would like to become a WAI ambassador, send us an email on