Ready for a bat-venture? Come along to a night safari at Raincliff Forest

If you’re not afraid of the dark and keen for an exciting bat-venture while the rest of the city sleeps then come along to a night safari at Raincliff Forest next month to meet our special native long-tailed bats.

Two late-night guided walks will take place on 5 and 19 February, organised by Environment Canterbury, the Department of Conservation and forest company Port Blakely, to give members of the public the chance to learn about – and hopefully meet – these special endangered mammals.

All South Cantabrians are invited to come along to one of the night safaris – which include a trip on a ‘batmobile’ to the forest location - but places are limited and bookings are required. The walks start at 9 pm and will involve walking a 2 km trail, which is uneven and undulating.

Environment Canterbury biodiversity officer, Rob Carson-Iles, said he is hopeful people will get to see the long-tailed bats but the team will also have technology on hand to listen to bat calls as well.

“Very few people in New Zealand have had the chance to see native bats, so this is a really special opportunity. We hope it raises awareness of this little population and the initiatives we’re working on with others to protect them, like predator control and protecting their roosting habitat.”

The long-tailed bat is classified as endangered-nationally critical by the Department of Conservation. In South Canterbury, they are found within a triangle from Geraldine to Cave and down to Temuka with a total population of only 2-300 in six separate colonies. Raincliff Forest is one of the largest colonies of bats in South Canterbury.

Bats are nocturnal mammals and feed wholly on insects they catch in flight. They are protected by the Wildlife Act 1953. Most remaining bat populations are associated with extensive native forest. South Canterbury is unique because this is one of the few places where bats have persisted in a rural landscape and is the only location on the east coast of the South Island where they are found.

The local Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora Water Zone Committee has also set out measures to protect bat habitats in its finalised recommendations to local councils.

Guided bat night safari at Raincliff

When: Tuesday 5 February and Tuesday 19 February 2019

Time: 9:00 pm

Were: Meet at Pleasant Point – details provided once your place is reserved.

Cost: Free

Who: All ages welcome. Please note this trail is 2km, uneven and undulating.

What to bring:

  • Gumboots or lace-up footwear
  • Warm clothing/layers
  • A torch

To reserve your spot (please specify which date you want to attend) or for more details, contact George Iles at the Department of Conservation on 027 565 8683.