Land transferred to protect native grasshopper

The home of a giant native grasshopper is now safer after Crown land in the Mackenzie Basin was protected as conservation land, Land Information and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.

 “The triangle-shaped 440 ha area known as the “Tekapo Triangle” is home to the largest known population of robust grasshopper (Brachaspis robustus), a species which is only found in New Zealand’s Mackenzie Basin,” Eugenie Sage said.

 “The robust grasshopper is a Mackenzie Basin icon. Protecting the Tekapo Triangle will provide a safe refuge and nursery that with the control of rabbits, feral cats, invasive weeds and other pests will help this distinctive grasshopper to thrive.”

The robust grasshopper is unusual as it doesn’t hop well and prefers to hide out among the stones of its gravel outwash and braided river habitat where its grey brown coat provides the perfect camouflage.

 The Tekapo Triangle has an estimated population of 500 robust grasshopper, that monitoring has shown to be stable. The Department of Conservation (DOC) may consider relocating grasshoppers from the Tekapo site to other areas in the Basin where there are smaller populations that are not doing so well.

 “The Tekapo Triangle area also has good examples of threatened iconic landscapes, including dry land moraine and outwash plains.”

 Sitting between The Wolds and Irishman Creek stations in the Mackenzie Basin, the Tekapo Triangle is about 39 kilometres north-east of Twizel and 8 kilometres south of Tekapo.

 A 2009 agreement between Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Department of Conservation means Crown land with significant conservation or reserve values may be transferred from LINZ to DOC by way of adjusting relevant Crown Balance Sheets, rather than a monetary settlement.     

 This is the sixteenth inter-departmental transfer of Crown land to DOC under this agreement.

 “The transfer of this area to the Department of Conservation and its legal protection helps improve the conservation outcomes in the Mackenzie Basin,” Eugenie Sage said.