Real Journeys "Birds of a Feather" Charity Ball raises over $35,000 for Kakapo Recovery


7 August 2015

With one of the world’s most endangered birds flown from Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) to be a mystery guest, the ‘Birds of a Feather’ charity ball organised by Real Journeys, was clearly never going to be your ordinary ball or your ordinary fundraiser.

Real Journeys worked with the Department of Conservation over the last few months and had hoped to raise around $20,000 for Kākāpō Recovery; the sold-out event raised over $35,000 on Saturday night.

Conservation Services Manager, Deidre Vercoe says Kākāpō Recovery is thrilled with the outcome, “the support shown by Real Journeys and the people who attended the ball is humbling.”

Held at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant at Walter Peak, the 138 guests dressed in ‘black tie and feathers’ arrived from Queenstown by historic steamship TSS Earnslaw and were treated to a close up encounter with Ruapuke, a rare eighteen-month-old Kākāpō.

“It was the ultimate way to raise awareness and funds for this extraordinary bird and clearly by having Ruapuke present at the event made it more memorable and successful – in every way,” says Richard Lauder, Chief Executive, Real Journeys. 

Renowned ‘Bug Man’ and passionate conservationist, Ruud Kleinpaste, was the MC for the evening with guests dining on a three course menu that was specially created by Executive Chef, Justin Koen and included such delicacies as; fresh oysters with horseradish crème fraiche and lemon jelly; and suckling pig with black pudding, burned onion and caramelised pear. 

A six metre glass enclosure was set up in a separate room away from the music of the live band.  Guests were brought in small groups for a viewing of Ruapuke with Department of Conservation staff.

Several remarkable experiences were auctioned including flying back to Whenua Hou Nature Reserve with Ruapuke, a week on the island doing volunteer work with DoC and a multi-day Landsborough Wilderness Experience that includes rafting and camping.  Additional funds were raised during a silent auction.

Ms Vercoe says the funds will be put towards the anticipated bumper breeding season next summer.  “If the spring is kind to us, it’s possible up to 30 chicks may hatch, adding to the current total population of 125 kakapo.”

The evening ended with dancing to Queenstown band LA Social and a return cruise on the TSS Earnslaw.  Real Journeys Chief Executive Richard Lauder says the ball was such a success that another ball will be held next year.

About Kākāpō and Kākāpō Recovery

The Kākāpō is a flightless, nocturnal parrot found only in New Zealand.  There are only 125 of these critically endangered birds left in the world.

Kākāpō Recovery was established as a partnership between the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters and Forest & Bird.  When the partnership began there were only 49 kākāpō remaining.
Kākāpō Recovery’s long term goal is to have 150 females at three separate sites, one of which is self-sustaining.

About Real Journeys and Conservation - visit our Conservation page.

For further information or high resolution photographs contact:

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