Million Dollar Mouse Feature Film

Now presenting the feature film of the successful Antipodes Island Mouse Eradication.

It’s been 6 months since we announced Antipodes Island officially predator free, bringing us one step closer to a pest-free subantarctic and securing the island as a wildlife hub.

Million Dollar Mouse was a huge collaborative effort – we couldn’t have done it without our partners,  the NZ public and supporters from all over the world. So we’re pleased to be able to bring you this film to give an in depth look into the project.

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In the meantime our focus has shifted to our next goal: achieving a pest free subantarctic with Maukahuka – pest free Auckland Islands.


MDM trailer now live!

Watch this awesome trailer showcasing the successful eradication of mice from Antipodes Islands…

The feature film will be released on September 12, offering an in depth look at the MDM project like never before.

Stay tuned!


Outcome monitoring results

Flies on native ragwort; Photo by K. Walker

Before eradication, an estimated 200,000 mice on Antipodes Island were eating their way through between 500 kg and 1000 kg of food a day and depriving native species. Eighteen months later, what changes were detected by the monitoring team and where to from here?

This blog on outcome monitoring describes the various techniques that were used.

The unique flora and fauna of Antipodes Island are flourishing in their new predator-free home, monitoring shows.

Recent data from the island shows pipit, snipe and parakeet populations have rebounded to similar or higher levels than before and immediately after the 2016 operation. The trend suggests further increases are likely. Further sampling next summer will help inform where the populations will stabilise.

With mice now out of the equation, these unique species will no longer have to compete for the island’s limited resources and invertebrates will have some respite from being a mouse’s favourite meal.

With each passing year, we’ll see the island get closer and closer to its pre-mouse invasion state – providing even more inspiration to look towards the next big goal; a predator free New Zealand sub Antarctic. Next stop: Auckland Islands

Read the full report here to appreciate these outstanding results: Outcome Monitoring Results Antipodes Islands Outcome Monitoring Results Antipodes Islands

or the 2018 Monitoring trip report

What’s next?

Auckland Islands. Photo by S.Horn

With mice now successfully eradicated from Antipodes Island it’s time to consider what’s next.

In our final blog, we’ll look at the species monitoring results to share what was happening to the flora and fauna of the island, pre and post operation, as well as what the situation is now.

For now, though, let’s shift focus to a Subantarctic neighbour – Auckland Island.

The Auckland Islands (46,000ha), are the largest of New Zealand’s Subantarctic islands with the richest flora, the largest number of Subantarctic invertebrates and some of the rarest birds on earth.

Auckland Islands teal. Photo by F.Cox

Auckland Islands flora. Photo by F.Cox

White capped mollymawk. Photo by F.Cox

It is also now the last of the New Zealand Subantarctic islands with introduced mammalian predators – cats, pigs and mice.

Pigs were introduced to Auckland Island in 1807, cats arrived by 1840 and mice by 1851.

Pig on Auckland Islands feeding around the seabird nests. Photo by Tui De Roy

These pests are stripping this World Heritage site of its outstanding ecological values.

So, the question is: what should be – and can be – done about it?

The Department of Conservation, with Ngāi Tahu, want to work with partners to solve this issue with an aim to restore the island to be a wildlife utopia once more.

It’s early days yet – the scale of a project like this has never been attempted anywhere else. But with so much to be gained it’s definitely a goal worth pursuing. As discussed in previous blogs, the Subantarctic zone is more than a remote location for sea bird breeding. As an ecosystem it contributes to the health of the biodiversity for the entire world.

Pig damage on Auckland Islands. Photo by S. Horn

 A team from the Department of Conservation are working through the feasibility of such a goal right now, with the aim to have a better idea of what can be achieved by next year.

A predator-free Subantarctic? Watch this space.

Read more. 


Partners celebrate the success

Pipit finding food. Photo by F. Cox


Tracking tunnel installers have lunch. Photo by P. Petchey


Conservation Minister, Hon Eugenie Sage with Navy crew on Antipodes Island


Moth monitoring light trap. Photo by H. Ricardo


Monitoring team leaving for Antipodes Islands 2018. Photo by F. Cox


The Alert Bay fingerpost and Fin Cox.

Department of Conservation

“After a long wait following the huge effort between 2012 and 2016 to make this project happen, we can finally celebrate success.” said Stephen Horn, DOC Antipodes Mouse Eradication Project Manager.

“It is satisfying to deliver on an initiative that we know now will have permanent benefits for one of the most special places in New Zealand. It is even more satisfying to have had such a ground swell of public support behind the work, from the people that rallied and raised money in 2012 to those who followed our progress closely in 2016 and sent messages of support, thank you and well done to you all for your participation and belief in the outcomes. We hope people have enjoyed getting to know the values of the Antipodes Islands and we look forward to building on the success of this project as we look towards the possibility of a pest-free New Zealand Subantarctic Area.”


The Morgan Foundation

“The Morgan Foundation is thrilled that the Million Dollar Mouse project has resulted in the successful eradication of mice from the Antipodes.” said Gareth Morgan, Founder of The Morgan Foundation.

” This ambitious initiative began back in 2012 with a public fundraising campaign that rallied New Zealanders’ support behind saving the endemic species of the Antipodes.  We were overwhelmed with support from the public and it showed the possibility of what these conservation partnerships between DOC and the public can achieve. It has demonstrated the importance of directly  engaging the public who are able to have a greater sense of ownership when their efforts are directly linked to the conservation work.”


WWF-New Zealand

“To have eradicated mice from the Antipodes Islands is the most incredible win for our environment.” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO .

“This means that the wildlife of this unique part of the world will have a chance to recover and thrive, and we are looking forward to seeing the islands flourish. WWF New Zealand would like to congratulate everyone involved: from Stephen Horn and the team on the islands through to the individuals who helped fund the project.”


Island Conservation

“The removal of invasive species from island ecosystems is a proven way to protect biodiversity and prevent extinctions.” said Richard Griffiths, Project Director at Island Conservation.

“We are thrilled at having being able to collaborate on this monumental achievement to protect Antipode’s threatened species and look forward to partnering with the Department of Conservation on its next steps toward Predator-Free New Zealand.”


Antipodes parakeet. Photo by NZDF


Evening planning time 2016. Photo by F. Cox


Stephen Horn, DOC Project Manager Antipodes Mouse Eradication heading down to Antipodes Island.


Bait drop. Photo by F. Cox


Baiting. Photo by S.Horn


Antipodes Wandering Albatross. Photo by K.Walker

Mice free Antipodes!

Together we did it!

In a world-leading conservation effort, mice have been successfully eradicated from Antipodes Island in the New Zealand Subantarctic, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.

Read the announcement here!

A huge thanks to everyone involved over the years.

helicopter baiting Antipodes

Southcoast baiting 2016


The mouse eradication team 2016


The 2018 monitoring team. Photo by F. Cox

Antipodes parakeet. Photo by NZDF


Antipodean albatross. Photo by K. Walker


Antipodes snipe. Photo by F. Cox

Ready for baiting 2016. Photo by S. Horn


Moth monitoring on Antipodes Island. Photo by F. Cox


Tui and Piri dressed smart and ready to go. Photo by C. Nanning

Team Depart Antipodes!

The monitoring team. Photo by F. Cox

Written by Juzah Zammit=Ross on 15th March 2018

After 23 days on the Antipodes Island the final days of the outcome monitoring trip are here. We are packing up the hut and buckets of gear and empty fuel containers are lined up at the derrick winch ready to be winched down to Hut Cove for pick up by chartered vessel the Evohe. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the weather to calm down for the pickup and three-day voyage back to Dunedin.

The team have collected the 260 tracking tunnels from the field, pitfall and moth traps pack up. Distance sampling for terrestrial bird species has been completed and snipe encounters noted. The rodent detector dogs have searched high and low for mice and are looking forward to a well-deserved rest.  The monitoring team are also ready for a rest, the hummocky uneven ground, head high tussock and ferns and seabird burrows island make field work challenging. The data from the outcome monitoring has been collected and sent to the Island Eradication Advisory groups. Technical advisors will analyse the data and will determine the outcome of the mouse eradication. Watch this space to find out the result of this four year eradication project.

Ready to leave. Photo by Luke Padgett

Tracking tunnels packed up. Photo by F. Cox

We have become a close knit team and the hut has become a second home. The team have worked hard during the day and have spent the evenings bonding over Catan, cards and Ghost pepper hot sauce challenges. Friendships have been forged on this wild and beautiful Subantarctic island. Hopefully we can come back in the future and find the wildlife thriving.

The team successfully departed the island this morning and are due back on the mainland on Tuesday. The results will be posted on their return…watch this space!

Read more from Stuff 

Outcome monitoring on Antipodes Islands


As we arrived at the Antipodes Islands on the HMNZS Wellington on the morning of the 20th February, three Subantarctic pipit landed on the deck of the vessel. This was exciting to see, and the team looked forward to getting ashore and starting the result monitoring for the mouse eradication and the outcome monitoring to determine any changes in avian and invertebrate diversity and numbers.

Pipit finding food. Photo by F. Cox

Antipodes snipe. Photo by F. Cox

Antipodes parakeet. Photo by F. Cox

Monitoring of the four endemic / native terrestrial bird species has been done using two methods. Antipodes parakeet, Reischek’s parakeet and pipit (Antipodes subspecies) is monitored using distance sampling methodology. This entails slowly walking a transect, counting and measuring the distance from transect line using Range Finder. The transects are throughout the island in a variety of habitats from rocky coastline to high tussock lands on Mt Galloway. The cryptic and elusive Snipe (Antipodes subspecies) are being monitored using encounter rate methodology throughout the island by all members of the field team. It has been particularly exciting to see small fluffy snipe chick scuttling off through the ferns and megaherbs on our walks.

Theo Van Noort processing pitfall samples ready for analysis. Photo by F. Cox

Hayley Ricardo pinning moths to preserve them for identification. Photo by F. Cox

Entomologist Theo Van Noort has been monitoring invertebrates through pitfall trapping, hand collection and leaf litter sampling. And research technician Hayley Ricardo from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research has been trapping moths as part of the Ahi Pepe MothNet project. Data collected from both sets of invertebrate monitoring will be compared with results from monitoring conducted prior to baiting during the mouse eradication in winter 2016.

Moth monitoring on Antipodes Island. Photo by F. Cox


Previous studies comparing invertebrates on Antipodes Island and the pest-free islands of Bollons and Archway, 1.5 km to north, found significant impacts from mice on Antipodes (Russell, 2012; Marris, 2000). These impacts include two large beetle species, Loxomerus n. sp and Tormissus guanicola, being wiped out from Antipodes Island but they are still present on Bollons Island. A mysterious weta has also been seen on Bollons previously but has never been caught or described and has never been seen on Antipodes main island. Without mice and with time these species should recover and disperse and hopefully the mysterious weta will one day return. Anecdotally the monitoring team have noticed the large number of caterpillars on the vegetation and flies which land on you whenever you stop for lunch and provide a tasty snack for pipits.

The outcome monitoring is an important way of assessing changes in diversity and density of native and endemic fauna on the island prior to and after the eradication attempt of mice on the Antipodes Islands. Who knows maybe a new invertebrate species might be discovered!



Marris, J.W.M. 2000: The beetle (Coleoptera) fauna of the Antipodes Islands, with comments on the impacts of mice; and an annotated checklist of the insect and arachnid fauna. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 30 (2): 169-195

Russell, J.C. 2012: Spatio-termporal patterns of introduced mice and invertebrates on Antipodes Island. Polar Biology 35: 1187-1195

RSPB volunteer on Antipodes

Written by Bea Ayling

I was over the moon when I found out that I had a volunteer place on the post-eradication monitoring trip to Antipodes. I’d first heard about Million Dollar Mouse at the International Island Invasives Conference in July 2017 in Dundee, Scotland, which I was attending as part of my ‘real-life’ role as Conservation Officer for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, (RSPB) Scotland.

I am based in the Orkney Islands, and stoats were seen for the first time there in 2010. Being outside their native range, we are worried about the impacts stoats will have on Orkney’s native wildlife, as seen in New Zealand. We have an endemic subspecies of vole (the Orkney vole) and most of our breeding birds nest on the ground and are susceptible to stoat predation. We are now in the process of setting up an eradication project, and I am currently on sabbatical with DOC and MDM to learn more about eradications to ensure we have success in Orkney.

Bea checking monitoring tunnels at Perpendicular Head, Antipodes Island

On Antipodes I am helping with placing and checking the monitoring tunnels for any signs of mice to hopefully confirm their absence as well as monitoring the native birds: Antipodes parakeet, Reischek’s parakeet, Antipodes pipit and Antipodes snipe, to help understand how these species are doing post-eradication. In Orkney, I am designing the monitoring programme so this experience is invaluable to me.

RSPB are also involved in a number of other eradication projects including a mouse eradication at Gough Island in the south Atlantic, which is a very similar project to MDM in Antipodes, but the island is more than 4 times as big. Like Antipodes, mice were introduced by sailors, but unlike Antipodes, the mice have evolved to be larger and have discovered the taste of Tristan albatross chick flesh. My job on Antipodes is to gather as much information for the Gough Island team as possible to help inform the project.

Bea at work in Orkney, surveying geese

We are now nearing the end of the post-eradication trip to Antipodes and it has been a rollercoaster experience I will never forget, from the exhaustion of fighting through 6ft tall impenetrable vegetation to the sounds of island birds at night and getting to know the team.

Thanks to everyone who has made this possible!


Antipodes at night. Photo by F. Cox

Antipodes archaeological survey 2018

Written by Peter Petchey

Peter beside a DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) magnetic survey mark

The Alert Bay fingerpost and Fin Cox. The fingerposts were erected by the Marine Department New Zealand Government in 1894 to direct any shipwrecked sailors to the Castaway Depot

Theo standing beside one of the sealers’ hut fireplaces

The Antipodes Islands have a significant but sparse archaeological heritage: hard to find in the low but dense vegetation and vulnerable to the regular landslips that continuously slough off the thin overmantle of peaty soil. The 2018 archaeological survey has two main tasks: revisit all known sites and record them in more detail, and search for any other sites that may still exist. The archaeological sites on the islands relate to three main periods: the sealing era (1805 to 1810, with a small number of later visits); the castaway era (the castaway depot from 1886 to 1927, with shipwrecks in 1893 and 1908); and the modern scientific management era (the first scientist to visit was Andreas Reischek in 1888, with major investigations from the 1950s to the present day). Maori voyagers may also have visited, but no archaeological evidence has ever been found.

The south coast campsite with Theo (entomologist), Brian and Carol (conservation dog handlers)

On the way down the south coast escarpment, following a recent slip. The thin layer of peat regularly sloughs off the underlying volcanic rock, sweeping away any archaeological sites (and anything else) in the way

Of the known visitors, least is known about the sealers, as theirs was a secretive industry within which knowledge of any new sealing grounds was closely guarded, and few individuals left personal records. Rowley Taylor (2006) has estimated that there was a maximum of 86 men living ashore from November 1805 to February 1806 (the largest human population the Antipodes have ever known); the question now is where were they living? Two campsites are known: one on the north coast at Hut Cove where the Castaway Depot is located; and one on the south coast which is the most intact sealing site known on the islands (and possibly in all of New Zealand).

A panoramic view of the south coast, with the Spirit of Dawn castaway cave and the sealers’ camp marked

This week Theo (the expedition entomologist) and I walked to the south coast of the island and climbed down the coastal escarpment down to the sealers’ camp. Located in a sheltered spot on the side of a narrow ridge just back from the shoreline, three hut fireplaces are visible amongst the ferns and tussock, but there is space where another four or five huts could easily have stood. The intact fireplaces raise the question of what were the sealers burning to keep warm? There are no trees on the Antipodes, but plenty of peat (some of which is almost a lignite); penguin eggs and seal cooked over a smoky coal fire anyone?

The sealers are estimated to have taken 330,000 seals skins from the Antipodes in just five years, but walking around the island today it is evident that while the fur seal populations are on the rise (they now occupy the Spirit of Dawn castaways’ cave: a story for another day) they are nowhere near those levels. Five years of plunder two centuries ago still has repercussions today: there are lessons to be learned here. The natural world can take centuries to recover from human impact, if it ever does.