The 'apple detectives' working to save rare Kiwi varieties before they are lost forever

Robyn Guyton and her husband Robert are on a mission to save the country's heritage apples before we lose them forever.

They've already saved around 400 varieties and are determined to identify and preserve more for the future.

Many of the apple varieties they work with come from an orchard planted by the first European settler in Southland, Capt John Howell.

"This is the oldest orchard in Southland - it was planted in 1853," Robyn told The Project.

"When I first got them the trees were almost dead."

She says New Zealand used to have around 3000-4000 varieties of apple, but now there are just 500.

Robyn and Robert have spent three decades saving fruit trees from death row - one twig at a time. But despite being super sleuths, the couple says there are still plenty of more apples to be identified and saved.

Watch the video to see The Project's full report.