Rakiura Maori Lands Trust and Real Journeys announce wild kiwi encounter on Stewart Island

Date: 05 September 2016

Media Release

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust (RMLT) and Real Journeys announced today that their first joint tourism venture will be kiwi spotting on Stewart Island called Wild Kiwi Encounter.

These highly successful nocturnal trips were previously run by Bravo Adventures.   Owner Phillip Smith, who began the original trips to see Stewart Island brown kiwi says he is delighted that he has been able to find a company with a solid conservation ethos to operate his Department of Conservation concession (authorisation to operate the trips).

“I’ve been running kiwi spotting trips for over a quarter of century now.  I still love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see a kiwi in the wild for the first time, but was ready to put my feet up and let someone else head out into the night!”

Real Journeys Chief Executive Richard Lauder says kiwi spotting is exactly the type of experience Real Journeys and its Rakiura Maori Lands Trust partners have been looking for because it is so unique.

“I’ve done the trip – you can’t get much more authentic than this as an experience, and to have such a high chance of seeing a kiwi in the wild is an opportunity that visitors will cherish.  This is largely thanks to the work Phillip has done keeping on top of the feral cats, possums and rats.  Real Journeys will continue the essential pest eradication work required to look after this important kiwi habitat.”

Once the Department of Conservation concession transfer is complete, Stewart Island Experience expects to start operating the tour from the 1st November, 2016.  Phillip Smith will continue to be involved in an advisory role and his three staff will be offered positions in the operation.

Stewart Island Experience Operations with Phillip Smith of Bravo Adventures

The RMLT and Real Journeys formed a partnership to help grow world class visitor experiences on Rakiura/Stewart Island by developing joint commercial tourism opportunities on a profit sharing basis.

Simon Gomez, RMLT Chair says the partnership is off to a great start.  “We can see so much potential and opportunity for the island through our partnership.  I know Real Journeys will not only help bring more visitors to the island to see these special birds but we’re satisfied they will play an active role in protecting them.”

The Rakiura Maori Lands Trust and its beneficiaries have a long history in the area and it is the largest private landowner on New Zealand’s third largest island.  Real Journeys has over 60 years’ tourism marketing experience, and operates the ferries to the island, Stewart Island Lodge and various tours.

About Rakiura Maori Lands Trust
Rakiura Maori Lands Trust represents beneficiaries’ interests for the majority of privately owned Maori freehold lands registered with the Maori Land Court on Stewart Island. These interests stem from the sale and purchase of Rakiura to the Crown in 1865.

For further information contact:

Tsehai Tiffin - Real Journeys Corporate Communications Manager
Mobile: +64 21 523 899