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Encounter Foundation

Our vision is to invest in and support the future wellbeing and sustainability of the local terrestrial and marine environment, for present and future generations, through tourism.


$4,000.00 | 20.08.21

In 2009 Encounter Kaikoura formed a charitable trust and named it the Encounter Foundation.

The objective of the Foundation is to support or initiate projects that primarily enhance the natural environment, both locally and further afield. The funds are accumulated by gifting a percentage of each of our customers fare to the trust and since its inception a total in excess of $270,000 has been donated to a range of projects and programmes.

Thanks to all our customers for making this possible and indirectly helping us to achieve this valuable contribution to the future sustainability of our precious natural environment.

You can make a donation or ask for further information by either emailing us directly on or by using the online form here.




Mission Statement

The Encounter Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to working toward supporting and/or initiating deserving projects deemed appropriate by the Trustees.

Purpose and Aims

The purposes and aims of the Foundation are to devote or apply both capital and income of the Trust Fund to or for any charitable purposes which are from time to time selected by the Trustees and are valid charitable purposes. Without limiting this in any way, such purposes may also include the following.

  1. Initiating and supporting projects which have the purpose of enhancing, preserving or restoring the natural environment
  2. Supporting other charitable organisations and agencies in activities such as tree planting, beautification projects and other such worthy causes for the benefit of the local community
  3. Supporting initiatives, such as pest control, which encourage restoration of native flora and fauna
  4. Maintaining and building walkways and tracks
  5. Supporting restoration work around lakes and waterways
  6. Supporting other charitable organisations and agencies in activities and projects related to the marine environment.

Recent Donations

Read more on Kaikoura Wildlife Centre Rehabilitation Portacom
Giant Petrel Xray Prep v4

$20,000.00 | 19.01.24

Kaikoura Wildlife Centre Rehabilitation Portacom

The Kaikoura Wildlife Centre Trust, a registered charity established to develop the non-profit Kaikoura Wildlife Hospital & Conservation Centre, is purchasing a portacom in order to establish an interim solution for endangered Hutton’s shearwaters (and emergency cases/critically endangered species). 

Funding is being sought to facilitate a portacom unit to undertake interim wildlife rehabilitation for endangered Hutton's shearwater (Titi), while the Kaikōura Wildlife Hospital & Conservation Centre project continues to be developed.

Trust chairperson,  Sabrina Leucht, said that the quote of $38,300 from Design A Com is the best price (incl. chattels, delivery and GST) the Trust could source, compared to other suppliers. The portable unit would be purchased and installed for the 2023/24 Hutton's breeding season and be utilised from then on.

Read more on Chatham Petrel Foraging Ecology and Climate Change
Chatham Petrel v6

$13,202.00 I 26.06.23

Chatham Petrel Foraging Ecology and Climate Change

Johannes Chambon has applied for 13 GPS trackers to track the vulnerable Chatham petrel (Pterodroma axillaris), endemic to the Chatham Islands.Once amongst the most abundant burrowing seabird of the archipelago, but now the destruction of its breeding habitat and introduction of invasive predators has dramatically reduced its population, and its breeding sites are now restricted to only a few locations. Tracking the Chatham petrel with GPS during their breeding season will provide us with invaluable information on their foraging ecology, enabling us to gain insights into their vulnerability to climate change. Johannes aims to track breeding Chatham petrel with GPS loggers to determine at-sea behaviour and distribution of chick-rearing adults, identify the species’ marine habitat preferences and the environmental drivers of the species’ movements, and predict future habitat availability under different climate change scenarios

Read more on New Vessel for New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

$20,000.00 | 21.02.23

New Vessel for New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

The NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust is a not-for-profit research organisation committed to the conservation of New Zealand’s whales and dolphins. Their research is focused on ensuring sustainability and recovery, and includes studies of population dynamics, ecology, behaviour, and response to human impacts. The long-term monitoring projects run by the Trust are among the longest-running research studies of cetaceans worldwide.

One of their research vessels, R/V Grampus has a long association with sperm whale research in Kaikoura and after 22 years of faithful service and more than 1,500 survey days covering over 50,000 km of effort, she is becoming increasingly costly to maintain. The funds donated by the Encounter Foundation will go towards the purchase of a replacement vessel (costing a total of $97,579.70), which is due to be completed late this year. The new research vessel will be an Osprey 520CC powered by a Yamaha 90hp outboard. 

Read more on GPS Tracking of the Chatham Island Tāiko
Chatham Island Taiko v4

$12,230.00 | 10.08.22

GPS Tracking of the Chatham Island Tāiko

The Critically Endangered Chatham Island tāiko (Pterodroma magentae) is one of the rarest seabird species in the world (c. 100 adults). This Chatham Islands endemic was once abundant on several islands of the archipelago. However, the destruction of its breeding habitat and introduction of invasive predators dramatically reduced its population. This project based at the University of Otago, and in collaboration with the Department of Conservation, will involve deploying GPS loggers to determine the relationship between environmental variables and the birds' movements.

This pilot project involves the purchase of 5 GPS tags (nanoFix® GEO+RF from Pathtrack, UK, $1,600 each), one base station ($2,550), and to cover the cost of a return journey to the Chatham Islands from Dunedin ($1,000).

In November 2022, Johannes Chambon will travel to the Chatham Islands to deploy 5 solar-powered GPS loggers. Before deploying tags on breeding birds, they will first be deployed on non-breeders attending the colony during the breeding season (i.e.unpaired birds). They will be deployed for c. 2 weeks before retrieval. If the birds still visit their burrows regularly after deployment, then GPS deployment will be trialed on breeding birds during late chick rearing in March 2023.

The plan is to use GPS tags with remote download via UHF to a base station to limit disturbance to the birds, to track their movements during late incubation and through chick rearing, i.e., the period that will be of most interest in order to study their foraging ecology. 

Read more on Kaikoura Lions Helipad Project

Kaikoura Lions Helipad Project

$5000.00 | 14.07.22

Helipad Project v3

$5000.00 | 14.07.22

Kaikoura Lions Helipad Project

The Encounter Foundation supported the Kaikoura Lions Helipad Project which is to establish an all weather use helipad at the Kaikoura Hospital site for medical and rescue requirements.The total cost of the project was $93,790.00 made up of a significant contribution from Kaikoura Lions and supporting contributions. This fantastic project will enhance patient safety and comfort and will provide an improved landing base with an up to the minute GPS location system and landing lights for pilot confidence in landing at night or in heavy fog. With the new St Johns Ambulance building being built beside the hospital and the new Fire Service building just across the road, this facility will provide excellent medivac and emergency services for the Kaikoura community and visitors alike. 


$5000.00 | 10.08.21

LeopardSeal 17

$5000.00 | 10.08.21 is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the research, education and management of leopard seals in New Zealand waters. Since 2016, researchers have been collecting sighting reports and photo-identification of leopard seals to better understand their ecology in this region. Information entered into their databases has been used to better understand the abundance, movement patterns, occurrence, and diet of this species within New Zealand. This information led to the Department of Conservation re-classifying leopard seals from being a vagrant species to a resident in 2019.

The Encounter Foundation’s funding will be used towards continuing our national sightings database and photo-identification catalogue to monitor variations in leopard seal sightings over temporal and spatial scales. The continuation of these databases will also enable further research on the occurrence, residency, movement and health status of leopard seals throughout their range.

Read more on Kaikoura Cycle Club

Kaikoura Cycle Club

$12,000.00 | 22.04.20

Club members ready to begin the Kaiterau Trail

$12,000.00 | 22.04.20

Kaikoura Cycle Club

The Encounter Foundation is proud to have contributed toward one of the latest exciting projects for Kaikoura. The Kaikoura Cycle Club will begin building a 4.5km tail on Mt Fyffe, the mountain that overlooks the Kaikoura township. One of the central aims of the trail, which will be known as the Kaiterau Trail, is to provide a downhill gravity trail that would encourage young people to participate in mountain biking. Currently there is not a downhill trail in Kaikoura and youth participation is very small. An uphill and downhill trail should be popular with Kaikoura residents and add another attraction for visitors. The trail is designed so that it is suitable for most riders. The downhill trail is planned for around 3.5 kms suitable for intermediate riders with some more difficult sections running parallel to the main trail. A fantastic opportunity for Kaikoura provided by a dedicated group of volunteers, follow progress on social media: @kaikouracycleclub 

Read more on Oaro Old Man's Beard Control Group

Oaro Old Man's Beard Control Group

$20,000.00 | 20.02.20

Old Man's Beard Contractor at Work

$20,000.00 | 20.02.20

Oaro Old Man's Beard Control Group

The Oaro Old Man's Beard Control Group is a community led group of private landowners and representatives from Ngai Tahu, Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury, NZTA and Kiwi Rail made up of volunteers and paid staff who have come together with the common goal of reducing old man’s beard and banana passionfruit in the Oaro/Goose Bay region of the Kaikoura Coastline. Old Man’s Beard is a deciduous, woody climber that can reach 25 metres in height which originates from Europe and South-West Asia. Banana passionfruit is a high-climbing evergreen vine which originates from Brazil and South America where it is recognized as a fruiting vine and widely grown as a food crop. Both these vines are extremely invasive and threaten our native forests and animals by smothering and killing all plants to the highest canopy and prevents the establishment of native plant seedlings. 

The aim of this community group which includes landowners, is to see no mature aerial old man’s beard vines within the Oaro/Goose Bay area and to reduce the current old man’s beard by 75% over a 10-year period. This will protect the biodiversity values in the richly biodiverse area of Oaro/Goose Bay, helping the natural habitat and species to survive and thrive. Phase 1 of this project is to tackle a large area of old man's beard and banana passionfruit on private property at Ocean View, between Oaro and Goose Bay.


Read more on Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute

Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute

$20,000.00 | 15.11.19

Jody Hectors v2

$20,000.00 | 15.11.19

Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute

The Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute Inc. (KORI) is a network of marine researchers and educators. In June 2012 it became a registered non-profit incorporation in New Zealand and in June 2015 became a Registered Charity with New Zealand Charities Services. With funding from the Encounter Foundation, the Department of Conservation (DOC), the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and many volunteer hours, KORI has initiated and conducted a monitoring programme for Hector’s dolphins off Kaikoura since 2013. With systematic boat-based surveys conducted between Hapuku River mouth and Haumuri Bluffs, in coordination with photo-identification of marked individuals, the surveys have revealed many insights into abundance, health, distribution and individual movement patterns within the local area. This successful application to the Encounter Foundation will enable a continuation of the Kaikoura Hector’s Dolphin Project throughout the 2019/2020 season. This consists of 24 boat based surveys, stipend support for a Masters student project examining patterns of dolphin distribution relative to turbidity (Jan-May 2020), stipend support for an Intern to assist with all aspects of the project (Jan-May 2020), a completely updated catalogue of recognizable individuals including most recent photos from both KORI surveys and Encounter Kaikoura and a continuation of trials for a more effective method for collecting breath samples and assessing the health of the dolphins through these samples (includes sample collection and analysis at Massey University).

Read more on Southern Seabird Solutions - Albatross Tracker
Tracker on Antipodean Albatross

$6900.00 | 17.09.19

Southern Seabird Solutions - Albatross Tracker

The Antipodean albatross are in serious trouble with their population dropping by two thirds in the last 12 years. They are now critically endangered due to climatic and oceanographic changes making the birds having to forage further north and overlapping with the tuna fleet out of New Zealand's EEZ. The purpose of the trackers is to determine this interaction so efforts can be made to educate and put pressure on the fishing vessels and their home countries to try and mitigate against the albatross being caught on hooks from the fishing lines.

Read more on Forest and Bird

Forest and Bird

$5859.00 | 16.04.19


$5859.00 | 16.04.19

Forest and Bird

The project is to equip 3-4 New Zealand surface longline fishing vessels with a 50% set of Hookpods. The total cost of the project in NZ dollars is $26,418.00. The Hookpod is a new mitigation device which prevents the accidental by-catch of seabirds on hooks on longlines.

Find out more about HookPod


Read more on Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute
Breath Sampling Hector's Dolphins

$6000.00 | 28.09.17

Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute

In December 2016, an adult female Hector’s dolphin was found dead on the beach near Harnett’s Creek, Kaikoura. The necropsy and further histology, conducted by Dr Wendi Roe at Massey University confirmed that this dolphin had tuberculosis. Jody Weir of Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute proposes a pilot study to determine the feasibility of detecting disease in our Hector's dolphins by collecting blow samples from individuals off our coast and sending them to the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University for analysis.

Read more on Recovery of South Georgian Diving Petrel
Diving Petrel

$6000.00 | 08.08.17

Recovery of South Georgian Diving Petrel

Application by Johannes Fischer, School of Biological Sciences for $6000.00 to go toward research to facilitate the recovery of the South Georgian diving petrel.

Read more on Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute
Jody Weir photographer

$6,150 | 03.11.16

Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute

K.O.R.I have been conducting a focused study of the Hector's dolphin abundance and distribution at Kaikoura since 2013. Much of the boat based data collection and subsequent analysis has been made possible through funding applications to the Encounter Foundation.

The project was to conduct a further 12 boat based surveys in late 2016 and early 2017. The total cost of the project is $23,590.00

Read more on Kaikoura Salmon Enhancement Trust
Releasing Salmon

$2,000 | 12.05.16

Kaikoura Salmon Enhancement Trust

Supporting the Salmon Enhancement Society in the third phase of their project in releasing a further 8,000 Chinook salmon smolt into the head of Lyell Creek above the Kaikoura township. The smolt have been purchased from Fish and Game and again the main aims of the project are to enhance recreational salmon fishing opportunities in Kaikoura, promote sustainable fishing practices and to monitor and provide educational opportunities within the community.

Read more on Kaikoura Forest and Bird Inc

Kaikoura Forest and Bird Inc

$10,000 | 07.03.16

Volunteer Removing Wilding Pines Mt Fyffe

$10,000 | 07.03.16

Kaikoura Forest and Bird Inc

Funding toward the eradication of wilding pines on Mt Fyffe.

This project involves removing and eradicating mountain pine (Pinus mugo) and green alder (Alnus viridis) from the western slopes of Mt Fyffe, which run down to the Kowhai River. Further patches around the hut and towards the top of Mt Fyffe will also be eradicated.

In the 1970’s the Forest Service planted mountain pine (Pinus mugo) and green alder (Alnus viridis) to try and stem the severe erosion in areas due to a long history of grazing, burning or logging, which had depleted the original vegetation and exposed the thin unstable soils. Since grazing has stopped, vegetation has regenerated, but the wilding pines and alders have spread from the original planted sites and threaten surrounding area

The preferred method of control is herbicide injection, this is done by drilling holes in the tree with a petrol powered drill and filling the holes with a chemical. The tree absorbs the chemical and dies whilst standing, over time it will break down. The chemical used is glysophate, using this method there is no risk of by-kill and the chemical is not absorbed by the ground at all. This method is not dangerous for invertebrates.

Read more on University of Canterbury Foundation
Skipper Gary Releasing a Fledged Hutton's

$8,350 | 25.02.16

University of Canterbury Foundation

“Investigation of fallout events in Hutton’s shearwaters and potential population effects”

The Hutton’s shearwater is an endangered species of local, national and international importance. Each year in March, young Hutton's chicks fledge and leave their burrows high up in the Kaikoura Mountains. Unfotunately not all these birds make it to the ocean and significant numbers crash land in and around Kaikoura, particularly during the nightime hours. It is thought many misinterpret or are confused by street lighting in the town and this mistake leaves them stranded on land as they cannot take off again.

The main objectives of this project are to:

A) Establish a reliable estimate of the number of Hutton’s shearwater becoming grounded in and around Kaikoura during the fledging season (March/April) in order to assess potential population effects.

B) Continue research into the effect of artificial lighting, and

C) Investigate the effect weather conditions have on fallout events.

The aim of the project is to improve knowledge of the factors involved in annual fallout events. Associated population effects will aid the development of meaningful strategies to protect the endangered Hutton’s shearwater and to serve as an advisory document in decision making concerning risk management and mitigation measures.

Read more on WhaleFest 2015

WhaleFest 2015

$8,350 | 25.02.16

Whale Fest Plastics Poster

$8,350 | 25.02.16

WhaleFest 2015

WhaleFest 2015 was held on the 13th - 15th November at the Kaikoura Memorial Centre. The theme was "Keeping Our Oceans Free of Plastic"

Organiser, Barbara Todd, said the focus this year was on the impact of plastics in the environment, particularly in our oceans.

Local schools were fully involved with each school looking at specific problems created by plastic and completing projects which were displayed at the venue.

A number of speakers participated, including whale scientists, DoC, and Project Jonah.

Read more on Dusky Dolphin Tagging Project

Dusky Dolphin Tagging Project

$12,900.00 | 06.03.15

Heidis Tagged Dolphin

$12,900.00 | 06.03.15

Dusky Dolphin Tagging Project

Heidi C Pearson

Assistance with Heidi Pearson's 4-6 week field season continuing her work with the tagging programme that she began last winter. Work on this stage will commence between 1 Dec 2015 and 10 January 2016. Meanwhile between now and then, work will concentrate on redesigning the tag with a new float design, a satellite transmitter, and a new video camera design. Heidi also has an application in with the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to test out the new tag on their captive Pacific white-sided dolphins this June.

Dusky Dolphin Tagging Project Update, 23 March 2016, From Heidi

We had a successful field season in Kaikoura this past summer (Dec-Jan 2015-16). The goal of the research was to attach a suction-cup tag with a video camera to dusky dolphins. In addition to the video camera, the tag also has a time depth recorder for measuring dive depth, and satellite and VHF transmitters for tracking the dolphin and recovering the tag.

We were lucky to have good weather, cooperative dolphins, and a stellar field team. We succeeded in tagging 11 dolphins, with a maximum tag attachment duration of 7.5 hours. All total, we obtained 9 hours of video footage, which we are currently analyzing. We are particularly excited about the intricate social interactions that we can observe with the video camera that are hidden from the surface.

This is the first time video cameras have been attached to dusky dolphins, and as far as we know, the first time a video camera has been attached to any dolphin. We plan to continue this work and are extremely grateful to the Encounter Foundation and the National Geographic Society/ Waitt Grants Program for financial support.