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18 Jun 2024

Seven local organisations in the Queenstown Lakes are set to receive a funding boost, with today’s
announcement of the inaugural grant recipients of the Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown Community Funds.

Seven local organisations in the Queenstown Lakes are set to receive a funding boost, with today’s announcement of the inaugural grant recipients of the Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown Community Funds.

The Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka Community Funds have announced that $60,000 in funding will be awarded to seven community organistions to support climate, conservation and biodiversity action across the Queenstown Lakes.

Established just over 12 months ago, the community funds were the first initiatives to come to life from the district-wide Destination Management Plan: Travel to a Thriving Future. They provide an opportunity for the region’s visitor industry to come together to protect the environment at its heart.

Grants will provide significant support for environmental projects in the district, and signal the vital role the business community and visitors can play in protecting this place. These grants are made possible through support from the local business community and visitors in Queenstown and Wānaka.

“Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do, and we couldn’t be happier to be working together across the entire visitor industry to support these incredible initiatives,” said Ash Bickley, Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka Community Fund Coordinator.

The grants will support an array of diverse yet complementary efforts – all of which are important in ensuring our environment thrives. This includes native revegetation efforts, biodiversity and pest eradication projects, waterway health programmes, and wilding pine control.

Funded projects and organisations include – Wānaka: Te Kākano Aotearoa; Wānaka Backyard Trapping; WAI Wānaka; Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group; Queenstown: Whakatipu Reforestation Trust; Tāhuna-Glenorchy Dark Skies Group; and Whakatipu Wildlife Trust.

“Every piece of action, no matter how small, is to be celebrated and encouraged. We wish the recipients all the best with their endeavours and look forward to continuing our work in this space,” said Murray Strong, Chair Destination Southern Lakes.

In addition to the funds allocated, a further $15,000 has been invested in a local endowment fund with support from the initiatives’ charitable partner, the Wakatipu Community Foundation. Jennifer Belmont, Chief Executive Wakatipu Community Foundation, says this will ensure local environmental efforts can be supported well into the future.

“For our community to reach its goals, we must be innovative, dedicated, and focused. Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown are excellent examples of this – demonstrating the power of collaboration and the immense potential we have to benefit our communities indefinitely.”

For more information on these initiatives and how you can get involved, visit or

2024 Funding Recipients

Queenstown –

Whakatipu Reforestation Trust - $9,135 Slope Hill Restoration Efforts

The Whakatipu Reforestation Trust is on a mission to restore native biodiversity in the Whakatipu Basin through native revegetation efforts, education, and advocacy. With 90% of our indigenous plant cover already lost, their mission could not be more critical.

In March 2024, 7,000 trees were planted on Slope Hill through a collaborative 4-day event, with Love Queenstown rallying over 100 industry volunteers to lend a hand. This funding will support Whakatipu Reforestation Trust’s ongoing efforts at Slope Hill, and, importantly, will fund the irrigation that’s essential to ensuring these new plants survive in their first three years, and beyond.

Tāhuna Glenorchy Dark Skies Group - $6,345 Rees Valley Conservation Efforts

The Tāhuna Glenorchy Dark Skies Group will soon receive its designation as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary - one of only 17 in the world. Their mission is to preserve the Dark Skies as an international Dark Sky Sanctuary for current and future generations and to care for the biodiversity within the Sanctuary. This funding will enable the Dark Skies Group to begin essential conversation efforts in the Rees Valley through a research and conservation programme focused on the endemic short-tailed bat.

Whakatipu Wildlife Trust - $10,000 Pest Eradication Efforts

The Whakatipu Wildlife Trust works with community volunteers and local environmental organisations to support, connect, and foster predator control efforts throughout the Queenstown-Lakes region. They represent an important and unified voice for wildlife in the Whakatipu Basin, passionately working to protect our native bird and wildlife species.

With over 35 critically endangered species throughout our region, this work is vitally important. The Love Queenstown funding will further support the Trust’s efforts to create a predator-free environment in the Whakatipu Basin via the purchase of additional traps, bait, and equipment so our native wildlife to flourish.

Wānaka –

Te Kākano Aotearoa - $10,000 Native Revegetation Programmes

Te Kākano is a charitable Trust that eco-sources native seeds from the Upper Clutha area, raises seedlings in their extensive nursery, and facilitates community-based native planting and habitat restoration events throughout the year. They are passionate about connecting communities to their land, and have done so with incredible success over their 15-year history. This grant will support their ongoing efforts in this space, enabling their team to continue leading their important mahi on the ground.

WAI Wānaka - $7,920 “Our Drains are Streams” Waterway Health Project

WAI's purpose is to accelerate community action for fresh water, helping them achieve their vision of healthy ecosystems and community wellbeing for future generations. WAI is an organisation made up of passionate individuals who work on the ground with individuals, visitors, landowners, councils, businesses and schools to improve ecosystem health, reverse biodiversity loss and keep water healthy. Protecting our fresh water at the headwaters of the Mata-au is urgent. This grant will support WAI's "Drains are Streams" project, supporting community education and installing Litta Traps in prominent locations across Wānaka’s stormwater networks.

Wānaka Backyard Trapping - $7,500 Predator Elimination Efforts

WBT's goal is to educate people about nature, reduce the number of pests in the region and protect precious native wildlife which is vulnerable to predators. They maintain 550 traps across 18 trap lines, with an additional 300 traps installed in backyards and on private land. These traps eliminate over 2,000 predators each year, with the support of over 100 active volunteers. This grant will further support WBT's work, allowing them to expand their impact and maintain existing trap lines throughout the district.

Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group - $10,000 Wilding Pine Control

The Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group works with community groups and experienced contractors in the Wānaka and Hāwea areas to protect NZ native ecosystems and biodiversity from the threat of invasive plants like wilding conifers.

This grant will support the removal of wilding pines on the face of Mt Roy, protecting this iconic part of Wānaka's landscape from the threat of wildings.

2024 Impact Metrics

Net distributions: $60,900

Net contributions to endowment: $14,800

Industry engagement: 5 volunteer planting days held across the district, with a total of 4,415 native trees and

shrubs planted by 285 industry volunteers

Visitor engagement: Over 400 visitor volunteer opportunities listed and shared

Reach: LW and LQ have reached over 5 million people through their channels with stories of regenerative travel

and give-back opportunities

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