Words: Debby van der Scheer
Nestled in the gulf of the Hauraki, Pūkorokoro-Miranda is an internationally significant 8,500 hectare coastal wetland that is protected under the Ramsar Convention and host to resident and migratory shorebirds. The Shorebird Centre and associated Robert Findlay Reserve is well known to birders but less known as a visitor attraction.
An earlier study undertaken by TRC on behalf of Destination Coromandel (funded through the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme) for the Pūkorokoro Miranda Naturalists’ Trust, concluded that there is significant opportunity to develop the visitor experience at the shorebird coast whereby visitors support the Trust’s conservation goals. That is, tourism as a powerful long-term enabler that is closely aligned and symbiotic with overarching community and conservation goals.
The Trust faces a number of challenges, including having outgrown their current Visitor Centre building, maintaining future funding for the centre, research programmes and habitat restoration, and being a low lying tidal flood plain, having to deal with sea level rise and the impacts of global warming in general on the shorebirds and their habitats.
While the existing visitor experience at the Centre provides an insight into shorebirds and their habitats (including the amazing arctic migrants like godwits, whose flight across the globe can be followed on social media), there is so much more potential to share the story of the shorebirds with wider audiences. This is first about how visitors can help the shorebirds, then how the shorebirds can help enlighten visitors to be environmental advocates.
The surrounding area also offers significant opportunities for linkages and partnerships with the Hauraki Rail Trail Great Ride running past the centre, a soon to be opened Hunua Cycle Trail linking the Shorebird Coast and the Hauraki Rail Trail to Auckland, the Department of Conservation’s Taramaire Wildlife Management Reserve, the creation of a new Repo ki Pūkorokoro wetland reserve over the road from the Robert Findlay Reserve, and local iwi Ngāti Pāoa.
TRC is now working with the Trust on how this opportunity can be realised, including the development of a Strategic Plan and an initial Business Case to develop a highly engaging visitor experience with wide appeal.
Bringing together tourism and conservation to support one another is central to TRCs work, needless to say, we are very excited to be working with the Trust and Destination Coromandel on this project!