Top Shows

Hyundai Country Calendar


Episode 33 - Wet and Wild

On the next episode, screening 29 October 2016 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:


Wet and Wild


Glen Riley has tapped into a unique labour force to help him look after Sinclair Wetlands, half an hour south of Dunedin.


The area is one of New Zealands most important wetlands, and to help him with the conservation work Glen brings in international student volunteers, who stay on-site for two-week working holidays.


Sinclair Wetlands hosts up to ten university students at a time, working through an organisation called International Student Volunteers.


Its a fantastic asset for us, says Glen. Were able to plant thousands of trees, maintain our walkways and do pest-control.


When Glen first came to the area, he spent much of his time clearing traps. Weve got everything here: rats, weasels, stoats, ferrets, cats, rabbits, possums, you name it. But weve really got on top of the predators now, and its about keeping a lid on the numbers.


The Sinclair Wetlands covers more than 300 hectares, between Lakes Waipori and Waihola.


Were trying to restore wetland to its original state best we can, Glen says. But its not just about clearing it up and then turning our backs on it; its about bringing people in to use it for recreation as well. 


The area is regularly used by walkers, kayakers and bird-watchers but also by duck-shooters.


When I first got here, I didnt understand how we could allow hunting in a nature reserve, Glen says. But its cool that were able to protect the area, and harvest food resources from it.


The area is home to more than 46 species of birds, including many different ducks and other water fowl. Mahinga kai is one of the core values of the Sinclair Wetlands, and relates to a place where traditional food and natural resources are obtained. 


The area was named after Horrie Sinclair who farmed the land more than a generation ago and gifted the land to a conservation group in 1985 to ensure its protection forever.  The wetlands are now owned by Ngai Tahu and managed by a charitable trust, which employs Glen as full-time coordinator.


The chair of the Sinclair Wetlands Trust, Ian Bryant, says the traditional name for the area is Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau, after the chief, Tukiauau, who sought sanctuary here when he was on the run from his pursuers.


In the same way that Tukiauau used this island as sanctuary, we like to think people will use this place as sanctuary to escape to from the busy cities and towns.


Sinclair Wetlands are also a sanctuary for Glen Riley, who lives on-site with his partner Chantal Whitby.


Living here is awesome, he says. Its our backyard, with incredible sunrises and sunsets, and the birds. Im hugely passionate about it.


Wetlands are places that are often overlooked as wastelands. But theyre natural water filters, they prevent flooding, they host important fish, bird and plant species. So conserving them is extremely important.


For more about Sinclair Wetlands, visit:


To email Glen Riley: 


For more about New Zealand wetlands, visit:


For more about International Student Volunteers, visit:


For more about Ngai Tahu visit:


For more about Goodnature Traps visit:




Dan Henry


Camera & Aerial Photography

Jeff Aldridge


Field Sound

John Patrick


Editor & Colourist

Mike Townsend


Sound Mixer

Ian Leslie



Stephen Gallagher


Post Production Manager

Bailey Palmer


Production Manager

Robyn Best



Vivienne Jeffs


Network Executive

Jude Callen


Director & Associate Producer

Dan Henry



Julian OBrien