DeBretts holiday park makes award-winning effort to control predators

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  7. DeBretts holiday park makes award-winning effort to control predators

Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort has a whole bunch of eco-initiatives in place to encourage their holiday park guests to reuse, recycle and reduce their impact on the environment. So when the family-owned business heard about Predator Free 2050, the owners and their 60 local staff were keen to get involved in predator control too.

Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort.
Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort. Image credit: DeBretts Spa Resort

In recognition of their efforts, the team at DeBretts has just been awarded the inaugural Predator Free Holiday Park award.

“We first started about 3 years ago,” explains Mirela Petrar, operations manager at DeBretts. “The issue was where to start. There’s not much forest here and not heaps of predators but they are still an issue, so we wanted to be part of a predator free New Zealand and help create awareness.”

Mirela and her team started slowly, initially focusing on rats and mice.

“Everyone had ideas, but we had no guarantee that what we were thinking would work. We found the right partner in Andrew Glaser, a warrior in this area who is referred to in the industry as ‘Captain Fear’ due to his outstanding results.”

Andrew works for the Department of Conservation and is involved in major predator free projects in the Ohiwa region of the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

“Andrew helped us to design a map and educated us about the way we should think about becoming predator free and where to place the traps across our site.”

Predator Free initiative at DeBretts.
Predator Free initiative at DeBretts. Image credit: DeBretts Spa Resort

Traps and bait stations are discretely deployed across the holiday park with staff involved in refilling bait stations, checking traps and recording results. The team also created signage for guests explaining they were beginning a predator free programme so all dogs must be on a lead when out and about. They’ve recently extended their predator control to include possums.

“In 2017 we purchased the first 8 traps and since then the system has grown making it more efficient. Currently, we have deployed 9 additional double ended DOC traps for mid-sized predators such as rats and stoats and in 2018 we purchased a possum trap.”

The extra environmental and predator control work has even led to a new employment opportunity.

DeBretts staff have recently begun trapping possums in addition to rats and mice.
DeBretts staff have recently begun trapping possums in addition to rats and mice. Image credit: DeBretts Spa Resort

“In 2017 we created a part time position with a dedicated person, Tobi Taite, to take care of the operational aspects and administration of our Environmental and Predator Free initiatives. We also created our own bait stations which were installed across the park. These are very efficient, user friendly and easy to install in a discreet way (important for our guests).”

Over 70 self-loading bait stations have been installed around the premises to control the population of rats and mice.

“Early monitoring of our efforts is showing that the bait is being taken up at a fast rate and we are optimising placement of the stations and traps in response to our findings.”

Results are logged on  and the team has also designed an electronic database for bait stations and box stations and a recording system to gather useful data and insights.

While some holidaymakers are more interested than others in the predator free initiatives, Mirela is confident that the work her team are doing, along with the signage explaining the project that has been erected around the holiday park, is achieving their goal of making everyone more aware of what the predator free NZ initiative is all about.

“We’re also getting some of our neighbours coming onboard now. It is a dream come true to see more and more businesses coming on board. We are proud to be able to improve the Napier-Taupo corridor by reducing the number of pests in the region.”

DeBretts are also keen to learn from the work of other environmental initiatives in their area.

“We are also seeking advice from Waikato Environment, Taupo District Council, Greening Taupo, local iwi, and watching our neighbouring areas: Blue Duck Station, Maungatautari, Forest& Bird, and Canopy Tours, to see what their results are and what new strategies they are introducing.”

The environmental initiatives at DeBretts have previousy been recognised with a top-level, Enviro Gold Qualmark award.

“It’s one of our biggest achievements. Qualmark is New Zealand tourism’s official quality assurance organisation and the quality mark shows a business has met stringent quality standards and environmental criteria.”

This year they earned a new environmental trophy for the collection – as inaugural winner of the 2018 Predator Free Holiday Park awards, DeBretts continues to make a top-notch contribution to environmentally sustainable tourism.