Blooming pest pops up on Tourism New Zealand website despite efforts to halt promotional pics of Russell Lupin –

Posted: September 20, 2021 at 8:50 am

Blooming pest, or blooming beautiful?

Russell Lupin provoke varied reactions, and efforts to banish promotional images of the brightly coloured wild flowers are having mixed success.

The officially designated pest plant pops up in Tourism New Zealands latest spring campaign, and a photo of Russell Lupin beside Lake Tekapo covers an entire wall in the first of 40 Kiwiso stores to open in China selling New Zealand skin care and well-being products.

Following a plea from the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board last year, tourism agencies ChristchurchNZ and Mackenzie Tourism stopped using Russell Lupin in their promotional material and on social media channels, and encouraged tourism businesses to adopt a similar policy.

READ MORE:* Struggle against wild lupins sows the seeds of change in the South Island* Mackenzie operators upbeat despite Aussie travel pause* The mystery of Tekapo's disappearing lupins: Who killed the social media star?* Russell lupin: iconic to Mackenzie Country or invasive weed?

Brook Sabin/Stuff

The Mackenzie region is famous for its Russell Lupin, but there have been efforts to limit use of promotional images of the pest species.

Mackenzie Tourism Development Manager Lydia Stoddart said operators who wished to could still include the blooms in their own promotions, however when featuring their content we avoid using imagery with lupins.

Tourism New Zealand said it had not been approached by the conservation board regarding use of Russell Lupin images, and it would contact the board and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to determine its response, which might be removing imagery that contains them.

Kiwiso spokesman Mike Arand said store owners Alpha Group were unaware of the pest status of Russell Lupin when the first outlet was designed, and the enlarged photo obtained from Getty Images would not appear in any future stores.


Tourism New Zealand. Despite being a pest plant, Russell Lupin appear in a spring promotion on Tourism New Zealand's website

The photo already in the store is a bit more problematic to replace in terms of location and how it is applied, so for now we will have to leave that one there.

Arand said now knowing the lupin variety was regarded as a noxious weed, he was surprised to find Tourism New Zealand featuring Russell Lupin, and to see online guides on the best places to view and photograph the flowers.

Under the Biosecurity Act, the wild Russell Lupin is a declared pest in Canterburys regional pest management plan making it illegal to grow the plant within specified distances of waterways and property boundaries, but the Act does not prevent lupin images being used for commercial purposes.


Russell Lupin are among the landscape shots used in this Kiwiso store which opened in China earlier this monthselling New Zealand skin care and well-being products.

DOCs eastern South Island operations director, Nicola Toki, said the departments position was that Russell Lupins should not be promoted.

We know New Zealanders have a high affinity for the landscapes and natural values of places like the Mackenzie.

These landscapes dont need lupins to make them awe-inspiring, they are sufficiently striking in their natural state.

Toki said allowing weeds like lupins to invade New Zealand braided rivers had a significant impact on their functioning, and by providing hiding places for predators, such as stoats and feral cats, they put vulnerable species at risk.

Alden Williams/Stuff

Tourists amongst a field of lupins on State Highway 8 near Tekapo. Along with their environmental impact, the flowers have also been blamed for creating a traffic hazard as visitors stop on roadsides to take photographs.

But others argue that the striking flowers, beloved by both amateur and professional photographers, have significant economic value for areas where they grow, such as Tekapo.

Mackenzie photographer George Empson said the only ill effect of the lupins was on waterways, so that is where attention should be focussed, and those supporting widespread eradication should consider the potential financial impact.

The lupins are a great part of the landscape here, you only have to see the attraction they are when in bloom, this eradication path is a very short-sighted approach, council should be open to any attraction to draw in the tourist dollar at present.

We run a business in Australia, have done for 30 years, and when clients and others realise Im from the Mackenzie, the first thing they say is I just love that wee church then, when is the best time to visit for the lupins?

George Empson

Photographer George Empson took this image of lupins in the Mackenzie, and he opposes widespread eradication of the plants.

Landscape photographer Megan Maloneys summer photography workshop in the Mackenzie in November ($1800 a head) has sold out and her six students will get the chance to capture photos of the flowers against a mountain backdrop.

Her website has an ultimate guide to New Zealand lupins which acknowledges the ongoing war over the plants, and the polarising arguments between farmers who want to use lupins as stock feed and environmentalists.

What the outcome will be is unclear, but for now we still have the opportunity to enjoy the lupins, so we should make the most of it while we can, Maloneys website said.


Blooming pest pops up on Tourism New Zealand website despite efforts to halt promotional pics of Russell Lupin -

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