Monarch sighted in Fiordland/Mt Aspiring National Park

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    Last week a deerhunter who was in a helicopter flying up a remote Fiordland valley saw a Monarch butterfly flying towards Mt Aspiring from the West Coast! He was surprised to see it there.

    He said:

    We’re hunting up the Waiatoto and a monarch flew up the river flats heading in the direction of Mt Aspiring. We were on the hunting block known as the Donald block. We were surprised to see it there. Sighted by 2 people. I heard someone talking on the radio about sightings. We were astounded to see it.

    Later "My mate and myself were quite amazed to see it fluttering up the valley heading towards Mt Aspiring and the Bonar glacier. I heard you [?] on Nat radio and that is what prompted me to get in touch. We also saw 2 ? red admiral butterflies. It was about 400m upstream from where the Donald River flows into the Waiatoto.

    The Donald is probably 24 hours walk from the main road…. we flew in by helicopter it took 10 to 15 min. LOL. It is a long way up the Waiatoto, the butterfly way closer to Mt Aspiring than the main road."

    I have endeavoured to google this location. If you use Google Maps and search on co-ordinates "-44.2330, 168.7780" you will be able to see where it is… way south of the Haast Road, SH6, which goes between Haast and Wanaka.

    This is the process when people see butterflies and report them in on our website (

    The details are accepted by the server, and this prompts an email to be sent to three people – myself, Heidi and Margaret.

    If it’s an untagged butterfly, a moth or a pest, Margaret will reply to the person reporting the sighting. Margaret and I also liaise about people with any more "complex" questions, for instance if someone wants a photograph or more information about something. Margaret writes delightful letters back to people as many of you may have already experienced.

    If it’s a tagged butterfly, Heidi puts her research skills to work to go into the database and find out more information – and writes to both the person who saw/found the tagged butterfly and the person who tagged it. She writes to both parties telling them where and when the butterfly was tagged. In most cases the information that is recorded by the server is accurate, but on occasion there are anomalies so we have to check things out first – for instance the co-ordinates are only generated if there’s a street or road adjacent.

    All of the information is stored in a secure database on line. The information is available for scientists and students to use; as more and more people get involved in the project it will be even more useful.

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