Some History - Lake Manapouri, Pomona Island, Rona Island
Pomona and Rona Islands are situated in Lake Manapouri within the Fiordland National Park in the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.
At 262 hectares, Pomona Island is the largest island in Lake Manapouri and is the largest inland island in New Zealand. The island was named by James McKerrow after the largest island in the Orkneys. Rising 340m above Lake Manapouri, Pomona Island is a round-topped granite hill with steep sides. At its closest it is 500m from the mainland, separated by the aptly named Hurricane Passage. The island is almost completely bush clad with some impressive bluffs. Vegetation is predominantly mixed beech-kamahi with rata and podocarp forest.
However, introduced predators and browsing animals - stoats, rats, mice, possums and deer - have had an impact on the island's biodiversity and in particular native birds. Having now eradicated all introduced animal pests we are seeing a noticeable improvement in forest health and an increase in the numbers of native birds on Pomona Island.
Pomona Island Charitable Trust
Rona Island is the second largest island in Lake Manapouri. It too was named by James McKerrow after an island off the coast of Skye, with Rona being the Gaelic word for seal. At 60 hectares it is only a quarter the size of Pomona Island, however, our baseline ecological research has shown that the vegetation and birdlife on Rona Island was in much better condition than that on near-by Pomona Island. With only stoats and mice present on the island, the damage to the island's biodiversity has been significantly reduced.
In 1966 the government announced a plan to raise the level of Lake Manapouri for the generation of hydro-electricity. A survey of the lake in 1969/70 concluded that to raise the level of the lake would result in 'almost all the scrub communities [being] totally submerged' (Johnson, 1972) resulting in the fairly rapid death of these submerged forests. Based on this scientific evidence a concerted Save Manapouri campaign was launched. In 1973 the lake was given statutory protection with the proviso the lake be operated within its natural high and low levels. Saving Manapouri has been described as New Zealand's first great conservation success story (Peat, 1994). The lake was saved for the nation and now the Pomona Island Charitable Trust is restoring the two largest islands within the lake to their natural state for the enjoyment of future generations.