27 Jan 2021

Mark Hanger: bat caves and prehistoric forests

From Nine To Noon, 10:09 am on 27 January 2021

Mark Hanger, President of Forest and Bird, has been leading small groups of nature tours around New Zealand and Australia for more than thirty years, mainly for overseas tourists.

Due to the impact of Covid-19, his nature quest business is now in hibernation, but that’s not stopping him from taking Kiwis to see their own backyard. This time it’s fund-raising for Forest and Bird and he’s taking people to see prehistoric forests, bat caves and marine reserves.

Hanger tells Kathryn Ryan that Covid-19 and the closed borders was a big shock to his business.

“Effectively, the business ceased to exist, at least in the short term… but I suspect things will never be quite the same.”

However, after hibernating the business, he realised they had equipment and vehicles that were doing nothing and could be put to good use.

“That’s really when we put all that together and thought, there’s an opportunity here to dovetail this with the other half of my life which is Forest and Bird.”

It was a win-win idea given that Forest and Bird itself is facing significant financial challenges, also due to the impact of Covid-19.

“I could see income was going to be down pretty significantly and that was typical of many NGOs around the country through 2020 and will probably continue for a couple of years yet.”

Hanger put the idea to the Forest and Bird board and got the go ahead. Shortly after the trips were announced, they were fully booked out. Not only is it a boon for Kiwis with nowhere else to go, they also get to experience these places with fewer tourists around.