Premier New Zealand tourism company Southern Discoveries was last night (Wednesday July 6) awarded a prestigious Southland Environment Award for its Sinbad Sanctuary Project.
At a gala presentation attended by more than 300 people in Invercargill, Southern Discoveries won the Corporate Category, sponsored by Landcorp, and took home a prize that will go towards continued work in Milford Sound.
Southern Discoveries is the oldest and most well-established operator in Milford Sound, and was nominated for the Southland Environment Corporate Award for its role in helping to preserve wildlife at Sinbad Gully, at the base of Mitre Peak.
In partnership with the Fiordland Conservation Trust and DoC, the Sinbad Gully Pest Control Project, set up nearly two years ago, aims to establish a pest control programme that will see the valley of New Zealand’s most photographed mountain become a sanctuary for native species.
Southern Discoveries’ General Manager John Robson said the company was “delighted” to be recognised for its work in the Sinbad Sanctuary and thanked Mossburn resident Jenny Campbell for nominating the project.
“We’re delighted we were nominated for the award along with five other great environmental projects. Our Sinbad Gully team of volunteers is extremely passionate about supporting a cause that is integral to protecting the magnificence of Milford Sound for future generations,” he said.
“The aim of the Sinbad Sanctuary Project is to see the remote valley of Sinbad Gully become a sanctuary for many endangered and native species with hopefully an increase in numbers in years to come.
“In February this year we reached a milestone in the project with the release of two more Kiwi into the sanctuary. The fact we were able to do this within the first two years of the project demonstrates our success so far.”
In the 1970s Sinbad Gully was home to the last known New Zealand kakapo (the world’s rarest parrot) living on the mainland. Since then new species of gecko and skink have been discovered there. Southern Discoveries’ financial support and volunteer work helps protect native species like the whio (Blue Duck) and encourages the return of bellbirds, tui and kiwi.
“Fiordland is one of the last true areas of remote wilderness in the world and Milford Sound is such a magical place we simply want to preserve its beauty,” said Mr Robson.
“The Sinbad Sanctuary project is right on our doorstep so is incredibly important to us.”