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Lake Matheson on the West Coast of the South Island is one of the New Zealand’s most photographed lakes and it’s easy to see why it’s so famous! It’s situated in a world heritage area surrounded by ancient lush rainforest. On a calm day you can see the beautiful mirror reflections of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in the lakes dark waters. Project Early Bird is doing some fantastic work to combat predators and protect our native birds that live in this special area.


Project Early Bird Lake Matheson


Project Early Bird’s Story


Project Early Birds Story started with locals Tash and Cliff Goodwin who own and operate Glacier Valley Eco Tours. They specialise in small-group guided walking tours in Glacier Country. One of the tours they offer is the Lake Matheson Eco Tour where it was heart breaking for them to notice a significant lack of bird song.  They were both involved in volunteer trapping with Friends of Flora in Nelson (the biggest volunteer trapping program in New Zealand). So in 2018 with the help from Department of Conservation Community Funding, Project Early Bird was born – a community trapping program to combat predators and protect and revive our birds and invertebrates including endangered fernbirds and the world’s rarest Kiwi the Rowi which have been released into the area.

Rowi Release Lake Gault


A Dedicated Team of Volunteers

Tash and Cliff (along with their two children aged 10 and 14) are supported by a dedicated and enthusiastic team of community volunteers. Everyone comes along on the first Sunday of every month rain or shine to check the traps and rebait. It’s great seeing volunteers from all generations, the youngest being four years old as for this group it’s about education and community as well. After the mornings work the team meet back and relax at the Matheson Café who looks after them with tasty treats and warm drinks.

Project Early Bird Lake Matheson Fox Glacier


The project uses the DOC200 traps and have 114 traps set over 6 trap lines at present with plans to extend up to the Lake Gault area. Their biggest period was the start of a rare ‘Megamast’ year which was the biggest mast in 40 years – From March 2018 to February 2019 they caught 161 rats and 33 stoats!

Project Early Bird Lake Matheson


Project Early Bird is supported by their wonderful sponsors: Matheson Café,, Department of Conservation and Glacier Valley Eco Tours.


Find Out More

This team of fantastic volunteers have gone a long way in helping to bring back the birdlife in this special area and are helping work towards New Zealand’s goal of being Predator Free by 2050. To find out more information or become a volunteer visit Project Early Bird or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @projectearlybird. Visit Glacier Valley Eco Tours website to find out more about their Lake Matheson Eco Tour.