Milford Sound echoes with opera for family centre charity

Milford Sound had a rather dulcet tone to it overnight as an up-and-coming Dunedin Opera singer serenaded nearly 60 guests on an overnight cruise.

Dunedin opera singer Sophie Morris serenaded guests on a Mlford Sound cruise in aid of the Queenstown Lakes Family Centre. Source: 1 NEWS

It was the final training night for the Real Journey'" staff who were able to practice their skills hosting guests - with all proceeds going to local charity Queenstown Lakes Family Centre.

The guests bought tickets to the event and all of the $11,000 raised will go towards shortening the centre's six-week waiting list for families in need of support.

Singer Sophie Morris donated her time and voice to sing in what's arguably one of New Zealand's most picturesque spots.

"Our service is so over burdened that families who've reached their breaking point are having to wait far too long to be seen," says Ilona Weekley, QLFC General Manager.

"These funds will enable us to increase clinical hours to respond to these families in a timely manner," she says.

The Great Kereru Count - scientists want your help to track endangered bird

The count is on to see how many Kereru, or native wood pigeons, are spreading their wings over the country.

A pair of kereru Source: 1 NEWS

The Great Kererū Count takes flight today and conservationists are urging New Zealanders across the county to keep their eyes on the skies to help scientists build up a comprehensive picture of where our native pigeon is - and isn't - found.

World Wildlife Fund's Head of NZ Projects Michelle Franks says the Kereru are known as the "gardeners of the skies" and play a crucial role for forest regeneration.

"Kereru are one of the last species of bird that can eat large pieces of fruit from trees like matai, tawa, and taraire. They eat the fruit, digest the fruit and then scatter the seeds and in scattering the seeds they expand the forest habitat" says Ms Frank. 

The Kereru is a critically endangered bird. They are distinctive looking birds; their large size and bright white, green and purple plumage make them easy to spot perched in tree tops or on power lines.

The information collected from this nationwide citizen science project will be used by conservationists to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests and will be analysed by scientists at Victoria University. 

Stephen Hartley, Senior Lecturer in Ecology from Victoria University of Wellington, explains the scientific significance of the project.  

"Are kererū becoming rarer or more common? This is the central question we are looking to answer from the data we gather during these annual counts," he says. 

The annual count runs until Sunday September 27. 

Public observations can be recorded on the Great Kereru Count website


Body found in search for missing Christchurch man

A body has been located following a large-scale search and rescue operation for a missing 48-year-old man.

More than 100 joined the search for Christchurch man Gary Elliot. Source: 1 NEWS

More than 100 Search and Rescue personnel scoured rough forest terrain on the outskirts of Christchurch searching for Gary Elliott.

He was last seen by family members around 6.30am yesterday. His car was located in the Bottlelake Forest carpark that afternoon.

Teams searched until 9pm last night, but the search was called off due to bad weather.

It started again early this morning and was upscaled to involve 15 search teams from as far away as Hanmer as well as dog teams and a helicopter.

Police say the search area was around 1000 hectares and included very difficult and dense terrain. 

The search concluded this afternoon pending the formal identification of the body of a man located in the forest.

The death has been referred to the coroner.