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Growing Dreams:  The Okarito Plant Project's Remarkable First Year

After months of behind-the-scenes planning and years of ideas finally coming to life, a small group of "founding members" kicked off the Okarito Plant Project in July 2023 with our first planting. While some thought we were still in the "ideas" stage and our first planting might be just a tree or two in a few years, we bolted out of the starting gate! We descended upon landowner Tim Sullivan's fenced waterway near beautiful Lake Matheson for our first project - stage one.

Community Volunteers Of Okarito Plant Project West Coast New Zealandd

Tim was more than a little pleasantly surprised when, within two weeks of first contacting him with our ideas, we had successfully planted 265 plants. These ranged from grasses along the water's edge to 8-year-old kahikatea and many species in between. We followed up with another planting within weeks, adding another 132 plants. Throughout the summer months, we ensured the success and survival of these plants with diligent maintenance.

Enter round 3! Back to Fox Glacier, we headed on Friday, May 24, 2024 - a gorgeous day with snowcapped peaks as a backdrop and the nearby forest surrounding Lake Matheson.

This waterway leads right to this forest, and while not far away, over a period of 5 hours, we only sighted one forest bird - a plucky fantail. We have a ways to go yet, but if we can join up to the forest, we can provide a corridor for birds amongst the farmland. It's not a lot of change, but it is a lot of passion, and that's what all of our team brings to every project.

Today, our team included Fox Glacier Guides, Glacier Valley Ecotours, Okarito Native Plants Nursery, Ribbonwood Retreat B&B, Okarito Boat Tours, and our amazing landowner/project liaison Sam Speight of Landcare Trust. We were also thrilled to welcome New Zealand in Depth of the UK as our first international member to the Okarito Plant Project team. Paul Carberry heads up this bespoke tour business, and we were delighted to have Sally of NZID and her husband John Lilley join us today while they are on an information-gathering tour of the South Island. Not only did they offer hands-on help, but they also stuck with us the entire day - no token volunteering here - they were true representatives of the Okarito Plant Project, dedicated to making a difference.

Wow - what a sight to see our plants thriving from last winter's planting - already we can feel the difference this is going to make. We were thrilled to see a mingimingi (coprosma propinqua) laden with berries - there's food for the birds! In the soft, rich soil, we planted 315 ecosourced natives under brilliant sunshine. After a welcome break at Matheson Cafe for coffee and snacks, we headed back and finished off a fabulous day of teamwork.

Another super successful Okarito Plant Project day!

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