Wallabies were first released near Lake Ōkāreka in 1912. Since then they have been steadily expanding their distribution. It is estimated that if no control work is undertaken, a third of the North Island could be impacted by the spread of wallabies within 50 years.

Why wallabies are an issue

  • Wallabies have a huge appetite for many of our native seedlings, shrubs, ferns and grasses which prevents their regeneration, changing the structure of our forests and reducing their ability to support our native birds and other wildlife.
  • Wallabies love pasture grasses, which means they compete with livestock for food.
  • As wallabies are nocturnal and cautious, they can be hard to find.
  • The Bennett’s wallaby, found in South Canterbury and spreading into Otago, is also threatening native ecosystems, farms and forests.
  • If wallabies are not controlled they could spread across one third of both the North Island and South Islands over the next 50 years and could New Zealanders $84 million a year by 2025 (includes lost farm production and ecosystem services).

In 2020 as part of the ‘Jobs for Nature’ funding, $27m was allocated over a four year period to control wallabies in New Zealand. Administered by Biosecurity NZ (MPI), the four year funding will be delivered through partnerships with regional councils, Department of Conservation, Iwi, landowners and the community.

North Island wallaby control strategy

The programme’s success relies on first preventing their spread from areas where they are already established, which is known as the Containment Area.

In the North Island the Containment Area is approximately 260,000 hectares. The Containment Area’s shape uses natural wallaby barriers around its boundaries such as rivers, steep gorges, and lakes, while also considering current known wallaby population densities.

Surrounding the Containment Area is the 'buffer' (shown below in yellow on the map below), where operational work aims to reduce wallaby populations, so they are less likely to move out of the Containment Area to find food and habitat.

Longer term, we can then strategically target wallaby populations inside the Containment Area and, with the help of landowners, iwi, and community groups, progressively reduce the overall size while investigating the possibilities of eradicating wallabies from the central North Island.

The below map shows the current Containment Area and the buffer zone, which has been identified as the area where priority will be given:


Central North Island Containment Area.

Current operations: Dama wallaby control

Current activity is focused on surveillance and control of ‘satellite’ populations in areas where wallabies are believed to be dispersing from. Contractors, with specially trained wallaby indicator dogs and trail cameras, are being used to locate and determine the extent of dama wallaby populations.

Where wallaby populations exist outside of the containment area, councils will work with the landowners to plan and deliver wallaby control (currently at no cost to landowners). Landowners/managers located within the containment areas are advised to contact their council Biosecurity staff for advice on wallaby control options to suit their situation.

Wallaby-proof fencing has been installed at Ōkere Falls and SH5 along the boundary of Whakawerawera forest to reduce the potential ‘leakage’ of wallabies in areas where no natural barriers, such as rivers, exist.

Find out more

Sign up to the dama wallaby e-panui to receive 6 monthly updates on progress being made to control wallabies in the central North Island.

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Frequently asked questions

Wallabies are relatively cute looking but looks can be deceptive.

With a huge appetite for many seedlings and shrubs they can change the structure of native bush. This then impacts on native birds and animals seeking food and shelter.

Wallabies also eat grass, which means they compete with livestock for food and impact on farm production.

No. There have been cases where wallabies have been moved between different regions and as a result new satellite populations have become established. Though appealing as a joey when they mature, they need space to move around, get boisterous and are very hard to contain.

Wallabies are classified as an unwanted organism in the Biosecurity Act and moving of any live wallaby is an offence unless a specific permission has been granted by MPI. Holding or keeping a live wallaby is also a breach of regional pest management plan rules, which may result in prosecution.

Unfortunately there are currently very limited options for controlling wallabies. It’s important to first establish that there are wallabies present in an area and establish potential numbers. This is done through surveillance with trail cameras and specially trained detector dogs.

The method of control differs based on a number of factors such as location, population density, land terrain and requirements of landowners. 

Currently we use shooting and toxins to remove populations however new and better ways of shooting and poisoning are currently being researched. 

Wallabies can move and disperse quickly. Reporting any sighting of a wallaby allows surveillance to be undertaken as soon as possible. This is particularly important when wallabies are identified outside of the containment zone and in areas, they should not be in.  We do not want them to invade further. 

Timely reporting will give us the best chance of finding the wallaby before it moves further.

The single most important action that anyone in the community can do to help is to report any sightings to www.reportwallabies.nz

Project updates

about 2 years ago

Work starts on wallaby containment fence

On Monday 28 November, a crowd of over 30 attended a karakia next to State Highway 5 to mark the start of work on the 12.5 kilometre long wallaby containment fence. Watch the video.

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On Monday 28 November, a crowd of over 30 attended a karakia next to State Highway 5 to mark the start of work on the 12.5 kilometre long wallaby containment fence. Watch the video.

This is a partnership of central and local government, iwi, farmers, landowners, and agencies who are all focused on ridding New Zealand of pest wallabies.

The fence, which will run from Waipa to Lake Rotokakahi, is designed to restrict the movement of pest wallabies from the Whakarewarewa Forest (inside the containment area) and reduce re-infestation of land to the south, i.e. around Atiamuri, Tokoroa, Ngakuru and Waikete, where wallaby control is being carried out.

Installation of the fence aligns with the wallaby control programme already in place for this area, and supports the aim to have all wallabies within designated containment areas by 2025.

wallaby update
about 2 years ago

Report a wallaby – every reported sighting counts

The number of reports of wallaby sightings across the country has steadily grown over the last year as people become more aware of both the presence of wallabies and the negative impacts they cause. Here in the North Island, the number of reported sightings has also been increasing.

2022-09-01 - Report a wallaby – every reported sighting counts

The number of reports of wallaby sightings across the country has steadily grown over the last year as people become more aware of both the presence of wallabies and the negative impacts they cause. Here in the North Island, the number of reported sightings has also been increasing.

The dramatic peak in reported sightings was in January, and was most likely a result of the TVNZ One News story that aired just before Christmas. People who see a wallaby, regardless of whether it's within the Containment Area or not, dead or alive, are encouraged to report it online at reportwallabies.nz.

By having a record of the sighting it allows us to have a much greater understanding of potential numbers of this shy, nocturnal animal, and its distribution throughout the region.

graph
about 2 years ago

Night image helps public see the light

A Facebook post highlighting the extent of the wallaby issue in Rotorua went viral earlier in June 2022 resulting in a series of articles and interviews across television, radio and newspaper. The Facebook post itself has generated a total of 2,030 comments across Facebook as well as prompting a televised story on The Project on Channel Three.

about 3 years ago

Kiwis out in the bush asked to report wallaby sightings

TVNZ 1 News aired a story on 22 December highlighting the wallaby issue in the North Island and how the public can help by reporting any sightings. Featuring Bay of Plenty Biosecurity Officer Dale Williams and Wallaby dog handler Kimberley Tiddy, the story profiled the scale of just how quickly wallabies are spreading and the impact that they have on the native bush.

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