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Our volunteer trips are being run a little differently than we previously have done.

We are now doing some of the island trap checks on the DOC vessel the Southern Winds. There is one trip remaining this year with DOC staff , Trustees and Coal Island volunteers.

These trips will include trap checking on the other predator free islands along the coast, this will make for an exciting journey covering not only the Coal Island area but other islands as well.

The trip duration will be 5-7 days, subject to weather conditions at the time and no departure is guaranteed

The trips we have planned for this year as per below and invite very fit and experienced (with traps) volunteers to apply.


Due to Covid-19  Lockdown the boat schedule has been cancelled.

We will post new dates once available

Payment for these trips is a nominated donation of $850 per person is requested  to the Coal Island Trust – South West NZ Endangered Species Charitable Trust. Full payment is required before departure.




General Program

Volunteers will meet in Te Anau at the Department of Conservation. They will go through quarantine process which will be a check for rodents and seeds on clothing and in packs.

The trip begins with a water taxi ride across Lake Manapouri to West Arm then it's onto a bus to travel over the Wilmot Pass and into Deep Cove. Everybody will be asked to help with the loading and unloading of the gear and food onto all of your means of transport.

The vessel will set sail for its planned route along the Fiordland coast line via Doubtful Sound.

Over the next 5-7 days you will be having an experience that very few people get a chance to enjoy. In some of the most stunningly beautiful wild part of New Zealand.

As part of the trip other work will be carried out by Doc staff which you will be expected to help out with. Coal Island and Mainland traps will be on the agenda to be cleared and reset. 

This is a guide of the planned trips the actual may change as circumstances change, All trips are weather dependent and no guarantee of departure.


The quarantine checks maybe done the night before the planned trip so a night in Te Anau maybe required.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Travel Arrangements

You will need to make your own arrangements for travel to and from Te Anau. If you are traveling from out of Southland, we suggest that you arrange to arrive in Te Anau the afternoon before. 

The quarantine checks maybe done the afternoon before the planned trip so a night in Te Anau maybe required, you will need to make your own arrangements for this.

Transport from Queenstown airport can be arranged through info@tracknet.com or a charter can be arranged with Trips & Tramps - info@tripandtramps.com 

Due to no departure being guaranteed, we strongly highly recommend you purchase travel insurance to cover your entire trip including any air /travel and accomodation to/from Te Anau.


Maps will be provided to cover the areas you will be working in. If you want to bring you own map, the required map is Topomap, 1: 50,000, sheet B46 & B47, Puysegur.

Safety Briefing

A safety briefing will be conducted prior to boarding the Vessel or in the evening of the quarantine. Emergency contact form can be filled out then if not done prior to arrival.


Is aboard the Department of Conservation's Vessel "Southern Winds

Cost/ Donation

A nominated donation towards the trust of appx $850pp is requested.  The cost to maintain Coal Island is very expensive due mostly to it remoteness, the donation goes a long way to cover these and food and water taxi costs for the trip. We also use these donations to cover our yearly administration costs. The South West NZ Endangered Charitable Trust is very grateful for all donations. 


A recommended list of gear will be provided prior to the trip. A daypack is recommended for the day on Coal Island and any other short walks. The weather in Preservation Inlet can change quickly at any time of the year so it is essential that you have suitable wet weather gear (waterproof and windproof) and thermals.

Any equipment and gear required for the servicing of traps etc will be provided.


The only regular communication with the outside world from Preservation Inlet is via maritime radio. There is no phone service. VHF radios will be provided to enable contact with the Local fishermen and Bluff Fisherman radio., EPIRB and or a emergency locator beacon will also be provided.

Background Material

There is a lot of history in Preservation Inlet. Early Maori lived there in pre-European times and the Inlet was the site of a number of gold mining ventures in the late 1800’s. Recommended reading include:

  • Port Preservation – AC & NC Begg (out of print but available at some libraries)
  • Fiordland Explored – John Hall-Jones
  • New Zealand’s Fiord Heritage – Neville Peat (Published by DOC)

Tramping Experience and Fitness Level

Preservation Inlet is in one of the remotest parts of mainland New Zealand. While the tracks on Coal Island are well marked and the terrain is relatively easy-going, the Trust will only offer volunteer positions to people who can show that they have a high level of tramping experience and are appropriately equipped. Volunteers should be able to tramp at a comfortable pace for 6 – 8 hours over undulating terrain. It is also preferred that you have previous experience with trap re-setting  although you will be given refresher training.