The Cape Sanctuary was fenced in 2006, with planting and pest control starting at the same time. Since then ongoing planting of natives in areas retired from farming has created great habitat for our native species while complimenting the farming, forestry & tourism businesses inside the wire.

Intense predator control began when the fence was completed and has continued ever since. As a “leaky” fence and working farm, forestry & tourism operations, we will never be completely predator-free, but since 2006 we have dramatically reduced the numbers of predators inside the sanctuary.

When habitat restoration and pest control had advanced we were able to begin translocating species into the sanctuary. We have translocated 18 species, almost all of which are successfully breeding.


The fence at the Cape Sanctuary looking north.

The Cape Sanctuary was founded based on the concept of sustainable conservation, where protecting endangered species and enhancing the natural environment was achieved while commercial operations were maintained inside the fence.

The fence is a “leaky” barrier, with several gates around the perimeter, and a wire gauge that mice can get through. There is no fence along the waterfront, protecting the amenity values for beach users.

The Cape Sanctuary was always intended to be a model for sustainability, with human habitation, farming, forestry & tourism activities coexisting with endangered species. This meant accepting that being totally vermin free was impractical, so the Cape aggressively controls predators and pests inside the wire without ever expecting to completely eradicate them using current technology.



Planting on the Ocean Beach side of the cape.

The large team of volunteers at the Cape have planted hundreds of thousands of plants since 2006. Areas of the sanctuary that are not commercially viable have been retired, with some areas being planted with Manuka as a nursery crop and for Manuka honey production. Native podocarps are grown through the Manuka.

Through the tireless work of volunteers and staff, approximately 500 acres of sand dunes have been returned to their natural state. Invasive weed species that prevent the natural cycle of the sand movement have been removed and with native species planted in their place.

While less popular than planting the dunes restoration could not have occurred without extensive and ongoing weeding. Volunteers have spent years removing the invasive species and protecting the native species that should be naturally occurring inside the dunes.

The extensive planting of natives has created habitat for many native species beyond the endangered species released within the sanctuary. There has been a consistent increase in the population of birds, reptiles & insects as predator numbers have been reduced and habitat has improved.

There are approximately one million pine trees planted within the Sanctuary. As with farming & tourism, forestry has been integrated into the sanctuary’s plans so we can provide a model for others wanting to run conservation projects on their farm & forestry land.

Vegetation from Geoff Walls


We have had translocations of 18 different species since the fence went up. Most of these are successfully reproducing inside the Sanctuary with many ranging a long way from the sanctuary. 

Some of the highlights:

  1. Petrels successfully nesting outside the heavily protected seabird site 
  2. Kiwi breeding without human intervention so we do not know the total population
  3. Call counts up massively
  4. Fluttering shearwaters breeding. These are wild birds that were not translocated, they are coming into our sound lures
  5. Little blue penguins breeding after coming in on the sound
  6. Cook Straight Giant Weta from Mana Island & Matiu Soames Island successfully reproducing and the population is slowly expanding


Volunteers & Staff on the Ocean Beach side of the Sanctuary


The Cape Sanctuary was set up to be a working model of a commercial farm, forest & tourism operation that provided a safe habitat for native species. 

The land has been retired & restored specifically for conservation, with the remainder used for commercial operations. Most of our species have access to both retired native areas as well as the commercial areas. 

Ownership & Funding

The Cape Sanctuary covers land owned by Andy & Liz Lowe and Julian Robertson. They have jointly funded the Cape Sanctuary since inception. 


Gannets at the Cape. The original population is increasing thanks to ongoing predator control.

The Cape Sanctuary has worked closely with DoC since inception. Over the years we have worked with many great people from DoC who have made a huge difference to the Cape Sanctuary.

Their support includes translocating 18 species into the sanctuary, and ongoing advice to support these species.

DoC staff have shared knowledge and helped support private conservation, allowing private land, funding and a huge volunteer effort to provide habitat for many endangered native species.


The Cape Sanctuary is managed by Rachel Ward.

If you would like to work at the Cape Sanctuary please email Rachel with your resume.