Aoraki/Mount Cook to get stoat trap network for first time

The remote backcountry of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is about to get a trapping network to catch predators like stoats for the first time.

And it's a group of passionate locals doing the hard yards to make it happen.

As the sun begins to dip over the Southern Alps, a group of volunteers makes their way up the Wakefield ridge at the base of Aoraki Mount Cook.

They're climbing the hills and setting traps in the hopes of catching stoats. The introduced species is known for raiding nests and eating the eggs of the nationally endangered rock wren.

"Every one that's out there is a threat to the native species," says Predator Free Aoraki volunteer Pip Walter.

A group of Mount Cook Village residents began setting stoat traps in and around the village in 2005.

They've just received a funding boost from Te Manahuna Aoraki, a multi-agency project that hopes to eventually make the MacKenzie basin a predator-free zone.

"It's amazing. When we first started looking at having the group here we were looking at $20 fundraisers with sausage sizzles, so to have the support of the wider project is incredible," Walter says.

The funding will allow the group to put out over 300 more traps and reach more remote places like the Hooker Valley and the Sealy Range.

"It's going to be crucial up here to give them this extra protection up here and hopefully eliminate the threat from all these introduced mammals," says Predator Free Aoraki volunteer coordinator David Sagar.

A group of committed volunteers giving these little rock wren a fighting chance in New Zealand's high country.