Set in the small rural village of Norsewood, New Zealand, The Wop Wops is a hub of historic, ecological, educational activity. The main educational emphasis of the park is on the endangered Long-finned Eel (Tuna) who take residence in The Wop Wops’ streams. Beyond the eels, we hope to educate people visitors on wetland ecosystems and the local history of the area – we also think you’ll have fun doing it!
The site was established in 2013. Since then, things like walkways, planting and landscaping have really given the land a new lease of life. We have provided a spacious outdoor park for the community, travelers and anyone in between. The Wop Wops isn’t only a nice place to be for the eels, we would like to think it is great for humans too.
The Wop Wops Wetland Park is an ongoing project. We are delighted with what we have achieved so far and appreciative of all the people who have helped so far. We still have a lot of ideas for improvement and will continue to work hard in fulfilling those goals.
Our goals are:
- To create a sanctuary for the New Zealand native long-finned eel
- To raise awareness about the problem of wetland habitat loss in New Zealand
- To provide visitors with an interesting and beautiful place to relax and explore
- To introduce people to the history of the site and the surrounding area
- To celebrate the diversity of culture, ecosystems, and heritage in and around Norsewood
Turning the tide on native wetland loss
New Zealand’s total natural wetland areas are now 10 per cent of the size of what they once were. Human activity, especially farming, is by far the largest cause of this deterioration. We are attempting to more than preserve a wetland, we are creating one out of an old rugged sheep paddock!
It is now more important than ever that we do what we can to preserve what we have left. Unfortunately, a February 2018 report from the Department of Conservation suggests New Zealand continues to lose wetland ecosystems to human activity and other sources. This excludes the 6 major wetlands with international significant status, but we think that collectively our small wetlands across New Zealand’s back-country are just as important. Small wetlands like ours don’t get the same level of protection and support that internationally recognized wetlands would. Our eels don’t know the difference though. We want them to thrive throughout the country.
A big part of helping eels and other critters thrive is educating people about them and their habitats. We get that a lot people think eels are scary creatures lurking in the shadows of New Zealand’s waterways. We hope that spending seeing these creatures up close, and often in the daylight, will change how people see our beautiful native wildlife. Even though they might not look as cuddly as a kiwi, we think they are really cute!
We’re also on board with the One Plan objective to clean up our waterways. One Plan is an initiative by the Horizons Regional Council that seeks to put in places protections for wetlands throughout the region.
Who are we?
The Wop Wops Wetland Park is run by the KuiKui Charitable Trust. The trust was set up specifically for the development and maintenance of a wetland sanctuary. The sanctuary has been created from waterways that were already running through the paddock with plenty of eels running through them. This idea came to Phil and Julie after they made friends with the creatures living in their stream down the back of New Zealand Natural Clothing (the meaty food scraps may have had something to do with it from the eels’ side). Phil and Julie’s New Zealand Natural Clothing is proudly the main sponsor of the Wop Wops Wetland Park.
Beyond the overall goals we have set ourselves above, the next steps are in place for improving the wetland. So far, over 300m of walking pathways have been created throughout the wetland. The next step is to line these pathways with educational material about wetlands and the long-finned eel. We would also like to improve safety around the wetland, especially with the creation of kid-friendly access to seeing the eels.
The KuiKui trust relies on donations to do much of this work and so anything you can contribute would be greatly appreciated. You can donate on our GiveALittle page here.
Thank you for supporting The KuiKui Charitable Trust and The Wop Wops 🙂