The Rail Trail Project


The aim of this project is to bring back Moho Pererū/NZ Banded Rail and other shore birds to the coastline of the Upper Waitematā Harbour through 2 Phases; Predator control and Planting


Through Phase 1 of the project we aim to link up predator control activities and groups along the coastline from Beach Haven to West Harbour including Greenhithe (including Schnapper Rock and Lucas heights), Paremoremo, Whenuapai, Riverhead, Coatesville, Herald Island and Hobsonville (including Scott Point and West Harbour).

phase 1 Goals

  1. To reduce the numbers of predators through pest control activity and monitoring

2. To gain a better understanding of wildlife in the target zone, particularly the Banded Rail (key indicator species).

3. To raise awareness of the vulnerability of the coastline ecosystem and increase community participation in this project.


By creating a more predator free coastline we will improve the success of predator control activities further back from the coastline in parks, reserves and urban environments across the upper Waitematā Harbour.

By removing pest animals from the coastline, shell banks and tidal estuaries we will make the environment safer and more attractive for the return of larger numbers of coastal and migratory birds that once flourished in this habitat. These include moho pererū (NZ banded rail), pūweto (spotless crake), kōtare (kingfisher), NZ dotterel, tōrea (variable oystercatcher), turnstone, kuaka (godwit), white-faced heron, pied stilt, banded dotterel, caspian tern.

Why is this needed now?

In the last 5 years and planned over the next 5 years the Upper Harbour is experiencing massive urbanisation. This is impacting negatively on the coastal environment, water quality and bird life. New coastal walkways are being developed to give people more access to the coastline which helps to get people involved in monitoring, protection and restoration.

There have been pockets of successful predator control on accessible coastline such as Herald Island, while other areas have only recently started (eg. Hobsonville). However, there are large stretches of coastline where there is no predator control and this project will help identify those gaps and work to address them.

Once found across New Zealand, the Moho Pererū (Banded Rail) is now limited to small patches of saltmarsh and mangrove habitat in the upper north island, upper south island, and offshore islands. Due to this patchy distribution as well as their cryptic nature, these native birds have proven particularly challenging to monitor. Banded rails are commonly referred to as shy and elusive. They occupy dense vegetation, and are therefore are frequently missed by passive survey methods.

International research has shown coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses can store two to four times more carbon than land-based forestry systems, and is estimated to boast a rate of carbon sequestration up to 100 times faster. The presence of banded rail can serve as an indicator of wetland health as they require a diverse, high-quality habitat and rich food supply. Banded Rail are currently classified under the New Zealand Threat Classification System as ‘at risk and declining’.

The project is therefore timely and it will utilise the power of networks and collaboration as more and more groups come together with a shared vision and a strong passion to make a difference in the Upper Waitematā Harbour.


With support from Te Kawerau A Maki the Rail Trail currently members from around 8 community groups in Upper Harbour area have given their valuable time to trap locally. We are also working with Massey University Student Indiana Mallinder-Capamagian to understand the best monitoring methods for the Banded Rail.

Current activity