Post-Conference Field Trip
Knobs Flat, Eglinton Valley, 11th March
The post-conference field trip will be based at Knobs Flat in the glacier-carved Eglinton Valley in Fiordland National Park, one-hour north of Te Anau. The Eglinton Valley is home to both of New Zealand’s bat species, the long-tailed and lesser short-tailed bats, and is the location of DOC’s long-running bat conservation and research programmes. There are no guarantees of course, but we hope that everyone will have the opportunity to see both species of bat on the field trip.
There is a maximum of 80 people on this trip. As we anticipate that many of the conference delegates will want to come on the trip, we have limited registration to conference delegates, and are not accepting accompanying people. If the limit of 80 people has not been reached by the close of registrations on 31 January 2020, we will open this up to delegates family members and accompanying people. The cost of the field trip is AUD $47, NZD $50, which covers food, hiring of facilities and the purchase of transmitters to enable the location of a short-tail bat roost (transport is extra – see below).
The field trip will depart Te Anau on Wednesday 11th March and return to Te Anau after midnight on the morning of Thursday 12th. You are therefore advised to retain your accommodation in Te Anau for the night of 11th March, unless you have your own transport and are planning to stay in the Knobs Flat area after the field trip. Bus transport to and from Knobs Flat will be provided for those who require it, at AUD $33, NZD $35 per person.
Field trip programme
Buses will leave after lunch on Wednesday for the one-hour drive to Knobs Flat, along the Te Anau-Milford Highway (SH94). We’ll enjoy scenic stops along the way at Mackay Creek and Mirror Lakes. After arriving at Knobs Flat, DOC staff will discuss the long-running bat conservation projects in the valley and demonstrate the methods used to elevate a harp trap in front of a roost. The data loggers used to collect information from PIT-tagged bats will also be discussed. You will then assist with setting up ground-based harp traps for catching long-tailed bats. A hearty al fresco dinner will be provided before the group divides in two, with one group heading to a short-tailed bat roost and the other group staying in the Knobs Flat area to catch bats on the wing.
Short-tailed bats will be tracked by DOC staff in the days leading up to the field trip in the hope of identifying an accessible and trappable roost in use on the day of the field trip. The ‘short-tailed bat group’ will have the opportunity to see the bats close-up and to observe the PIT-tagging procedure used by DOC. Access to the roost is likely to be by crossing the Eglinton River and could be up to an hour’s walk in untracked grassland and beech forest with mild up-slope walking involved. The river can vary from knee to waist depth, depending on rainfall in the preceding days. Shoes/boots need to be worn when crossing the river, so people going on this trip need to be prepared to get wet and stay wet. The return journey from the roost to Knobs Flat will be in the dark. It is therefore crucial that the people that sign up to this trip are physically fit and experienced in river-crossing and off-track bush walking, and are prepared to get wet and stay in wet clothes/shoes for the duration of the trip. The group will return to Knobs Flat by 2 am to be back in Te Anau no later than 3 am. The ‘short-tailed bat group’ is limited to 40 people, with the first 40 suitably fit people registering for this getting a place.
The ‘long-tailed bat group’ remaining in the Knobs Flat area will set up mist-nets and monitor those and free-standing harp-traps in the hope of catching both long- and short-tailed bats. If short-tailed bats remain elusive, a special delivery of a bag-o-bats will be brought across from the short-tailed bat roost so that everyone on the field trip can have the opportunity to see these feisty, unique little characters. After traps have been packed away and nets taken down the buses will depart Knobs Flat between 12 am and 2am, depending on bat activity, to have you back in Te Anau no later than 3am.
Eglinton accommodation for self-drive delegates
If you are travelling in your own vehicle and wish to stay in the Eglinton Valley on the night of the field trip there is limited accommodation available at Knobs Flat Accommodation. Five self-contained studio units have been held aside for bat conference delegates with their own transport for the evening of 11th March and if desired also 12th March, with a generous discount of 15% on offer. Studio with Queen bed (usually NZD $150 per night, with 15% discount NZD $128 per night). Studio with Queen bed and Double bed in the same room ($220 per night, with 15% discount NZD $187 per night).
To receive the 15% discount on a studio unit contact Knobs Flat Accommodation directly, mention that you are with the Australasian Bat Society Conference field trip and give the Booking Number 13951. Phone 03 249 9122 from within New Zealand or 0064 3 249 9122 from overseas.
There is also a small campsite at Knobs Flat Accommodation, with access to kitchen and toilet/shower blocks. And there are several basic DOC campgrounds at scenic locations in the area. These offer unpowered tent sites and non-flush toilets and most have access to fresh water but no cooking facilities. For further information and fees check the DOC website (links below)