The cleanup cleared visible rubbish from 1313 ha of the Fox and Cook Rivers and along 64km of the South Westland coastline.
The incident management centre has been the base for both DOC and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), who will finally leave South Westland today.
DOC coordinated a massive volunteer effort to remove rubbish from the area, with almost 1000 volunteers contributing over 3000 days to the clean-up.
While DOC led the call for volunteers, supporting the number of people who showed up would not have been possible without the NZDF, who provided military personnel, logistical support, vehicles and helicopters to support the task force of volunteers.
Owen Kilgour, Operation Tidy Fox Incident Management Controller says that having the capability of the NZDF onsite was a key part of the success of the operation, which has been completed much sooner than anticipated, due to the large number of volunteers who signed up to help, and the seamless cooperation between DOC and NZDF both within the incident management team and in the field.
“We worked alongside the NZDF to forward plan where we would direct volunteers to next, and what transport and facilities were required to move people and keep them comfortable – the NZDF impressed us with their efficiency, skills, and knowledge in moving large groups of people and equipment quickly and safely.
NZDF also contributed a workforce of “pickers” – and these personnel made short work of picking up rubbish, working in often difficult terrain at speed to get this enormous task complete.
DOC staff managing the incident and leading teams of volunteers spent 833 days on the cleanup and NZDF contributed 1600 person days. The equivalent of more than 14,500 bags of rubbish were removed from the riverbed and coastline.
Now that we have drawn the operation to a close, we will all be far more aware of the impact that plastic has on the environment, and the part that we all have to play in reducing the amount we each produce.”