Paekākāriki Beach Rat Patrol

Paekākāriki resident Birnie Duthie enjoys checking and clearing the predator traps that help protect our kororā (little blue penguins).

Photo: Bob Zuur

Birnie Duthie, a Paekākāriki resident, has been checking a trap line along the south beach of Paekākāriki since early 2020. During that time Birnie has cleared over 70 predators: 63 Rats, three weasels, one stoat, four mice and three hedge devils. Here’s an account from Birnie of his experience over the past few years. 

“The tide’s out, the north-westerly has abated, and the sun’s shining.

Time for my rat patrol on Paekākāriki beach. 

Kororā, our little blue penguins, live under about every second house on the beach side of Ames Street, with a handful more towards Fisherman’s Table.

To help enable the colony to survive, the Kāpiti Coast Biodiversity Project has installed a series of ‘trap lines’ throughout Queen Elizabeth Park, including the Ames Street Reserve and beachfront.

Photo: Bob Zuur

It is no hardship to check the beach traps.

The sand is scoured clean twice a day. Not only does the tide wipe out all human (and animal) tracks, creating smooth, delicately-coloured and patterned surfaces, it also deposits beautiful shells, stones, flotsam and jetsam, driftwood and the occasional curious seal.

A voluntary army of trappers check and re-bait the traps, occasionally finding a stoat, ferret, rat or hedgehog – all unable to resist old peanut butter.

It’s better to find freshly trapped animals, as the corpses soon attract blowflies.

So all in all, I don’t require much incentive to check the beach traps. I never know what I’ll come across, and the beach itself provides endless energy, and beauty from the micro to the macro.

And, it’s good to know that reducing the predator population helps support our little blue penguin.”

Discover more about Predator Free Paekākāriki.

Paekākā is a community-built, funded and run website. All funds go to weekly running costs, with huge amounts of professional work donated behind the scenes.  If you can help financially, at a time when many supporting local businesses are hurting, we have launched a donation gateway.