A rat plague is expected to explode through Southern Lakes and potentially wipe out vulnerable birdlife.
"Wake up in paradise" is New Zealand's proud boast. It has a rightful swagger: its turquoise glacial lakes are ringed by untouched mountain ranges, while historic Māori sites speak of a people at one with the natural world.
But there are stains on the environment. In this corner of the South Pacific, waterways are increasingly polluted and, from the suburbs to the alpine peaks, an untold army of feral pests is running amok, putting about 80% of New Zealand's bird species at the risk of extinction.
A pest-culling operation on 12,500ha north of Dunedin is aimed at decimating the possum population by poisoning and trapping.
Ospri has sent pamphlets to residents in the area informing them of the next stages of its work over the next two years.
Whio, kereru, kiwi and New Zealand native bats will benefit from an aerial 1080 operation needed to eradicate bovine TB in the Ruapehu District.
The operation, over about 35,000ha, will take place at a time around late July when fine weather is predicted, OSPRI operations extension officer Phillip Dawson said.
Birds and bats could be threatened with local extinction if the Department of Conservation (DOC) cannot make more aerial 1080 drops this mega-mast season.
Forest and Bird warns a plague of rats sweeping unchecked across parts of the country will be followed by an invasion of stoats by spring.
Official maps released today have revealed the vast swathe of New Zealand wilderness under threat from a plague-fuelling "mega mast" - but officials say response plans can't be scaled up.
Forest & Bird is warning a nationwide rat plague is only about to get worse, and has pleaded with the Government and councils to increase their 1080 rat control programmes, before a stoat plague comes next.