News | 7 November 2023
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Rats, stoats and weasels eliminated from Miramar

Predator Free Wellington and the community are celebrating the elimination of rats, stoats and weasels from the Miramar Peninsula.

Predator Free Wellington volunteer carries predator trap along street

James Willcocks, Project Director for Predator Free Wellington, describes this as a massive milestone that has been hard won.

“It takes a lot of persistence, resilience, and dedication to reach the target of zero rats in an urban environment and we thank everyone who has stuck with us on this journey,” says James.

“The project has relied on the support of the 20,000 residents on the peninsula, and involved almost every third household, business, school and kindergarten, hundreds of volunteers, technical experts, and our foundation partners Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council, Predator Free 2050 Ltd, NEXT Foundation and Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.”

Miramar resident Dan Henry has been leading the volunteer trapping efforts on the peninsula, and says he is immensely proud to be involved in the project.

“While getting the last rats has been a tough task, it’s incredible how quickly it has transformed our local environment. We’ve already seen a 71 percent increase in native bird detections, including a 500 percent increase in pīwakawaka and a 340 percent increase in riroriro. Mokomoko (lizards) and wētā populations have also increased significantly,” adds Dan.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter says the technical skills among the field team and Miramar volunteers are paving the way for urban predator free projects in Aotearoa.

“When the team started on the peninsula, the method was based on standard pest management techniques for New Zealand, learning from a mixture of pest suppression on the mainland and pest eradication on islands.

“That method worked for Norway rats, stoats and weasels, but not ship rats. We had to go back to the drawing board many times and continue to collaborate and innovate in a way that hasn’t been done before in this kind of environment," says Councillor Ponter.

Predator Free Wellington map of five phases

Chief Executive Predator Free 2050 Ltd Rob Forlong says the knowledge gained from this first phase of the Wellington project is invaluable.

“Not only do we now have a better understanding of the technology and resources needed to reach our predator free 2050 goal in urban environments, but we’ve also learnt how to make significant cost efficiencies, with cost reductions of up to 75 percent per hectare achieved by Predator Free Wellington.

“We now have a proven method that works, but we are not stopping anytime soon. Predator Free Wellington has already moved into their phase 2 project area which runs across from Island Bay right into the CBD,” says Rob.

Wellington City Mayor Tory Whanau congratulated every trapper and every resident who has helped Predator Free Wellington reach this milestone.

“It’s been wonderful to see the way this project has galvanised Wellington with the shared purpose of making Pōneke the world’s first predator-free capital city. It’s not only transformational for Wellington, but the whole of Aotearoa.”

Additional facts and figures


  • Predator Free Wellington has eliminated rats, stoats and weasels from the Miramar Peninsula. A biosecurity network is now in place.
  • It is expected that we will continue to detect incursions of ship rats on the peninsula from time to time, but we have full confidence in our response network of 450 monitoring cameras, rat detector dog team, volunteers and local residents.
  • We have been testing the biosecurity system for the past 12 months with Norway rats and weasels – and it works! Individual rats are not an issue, what’s important is that they are removed quickly before any chance of breeding. As we progress further into our phase 2 project, this will take the pressure off the peninsula.
  • The challenges of biosecurity is what makes this project special. We have moved beyond the fences and offshore islands, and are paving the way to living alongside these precious taonga by centering our project in a city where 212,000 people live, work and play, every day.

About Predator Free Wellington

  • Predator Free Wellington is a charitable organisation supported by Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, NEXT Foundation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.
  • Our project area encompasses 30,000 ha and an estimated 70,000 households. It stretches around from Miramar Peninsula, across to the south-west corner of Mākara and up to a boundary that follows the SH1 motorway through to the border with Porirua City.
    • Miramar (phase 1): The first phase involved eliminating rats, weasels and stoats from Miramar Peninsula. This was chosen as our initial area of focus because it’s been possum free since 2006 and as a peninsula, is more easily defendable from predator reinvasion with the Wellington Airport acting as a natural barrier.
    • Island Bay to CBD (phase 2): The second phase includes sections of the Wellington town belt, CBD and suburbia. We are already working in phase 2 in Rongotai, Lyall Bay and Hataitai.
    • Phase 3, 4 & 5: Incorporates parts of the city and outer suburbs. In these latter phases we will work closely with our friends at the Capital Kiwi project as well as coordinating with Porirua City control efforts as we near the upper border.