Gazing out from the North Shore, Waiheke, or eastern suburbs, one would scarcely know that a firestorm of protest is gathering on the distant horizon across the Hauraki Gulf and Firth of Thames and down the hazy spine of the Coromandel Range.
But an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, farmers, iwi, local council, and even the high-end Auckland pet food industry is pushing hard to stop Department of Conservation plans to blanket a vast swath of over 22,500ha with 1080 toxin for rat and possum control this winter.
DoC aerial poisoning between July and October is planned to cover most of Moehau mountain at the peninsula's north tip, the Papakai Environmental Area outside Coromandel Town, and Otahu further south near Whangamata.
Environmental activists on the Coromandel have long opposed the local use of 1080 and other residual toxins due to their unintended lethal effects on a wide range of native species, from birds to bats and weta.
They also cite risks to human health, including unstudied long-term and low-dose exposure to persistent poisons in water, the food chain, and the local environment.
And like the RSPCA, they oppose animal cruelty - an unavoidable feature of 1080 operations.
The familiar debate for and against 1080 continues nationwide. Meanwhile, however, a sharp shift is occurring in DoC's operations.
While the toxin was historically defended as an important "tool in the toolbox", mainly to control possums in "remote and inaccessible locations", now aerial 1080 drops are being pushed into public water supply catchments, along farmers' back paddocks and tourist hot spots, and across thousands of hectares of flat and mildly sloping land that have been tracked and trapped successfully for years - including on the Coromandel.
Once promoted as a "necessary evil" and method of "last resort", use of the toxin on the peninsula this winter is being explained by DoC as simply the "most efficient and cost-effective" pest control option, even on easily accessible terrain. When all associated costs are included, opponents vehemently disagree.
Thames-Coromandel District Council has entered the fray. Last month, in its consultation response to DoC, the district council confirmed, "the upper tributaries of the Coromandel town drinking water catchment are affected by the proposed operation". If it proceeds as planned, toxin pellets and poison-laced rat and possum carcasses would find their way directly into town water sources in and around the drop zone.
The council has formally advised DoC's Hauraki management the operation is "unacceptable". The council has requested removal of the affected water supply areas from the proposed drop and "a 1km buffer zone around any community drinking water catchment".
It is not a new battle for the council. The Coromandel-Colville Community Board has passed three resolutions since 2007 supporting pest control by hunting, trapping, and non-residual poisons only.
On the western flanks of Moehau, farming families who have stewarded the land for generations, creating and protecting one of New Zealand's most iconic landscapes, are also voicing objections to DoC's planned toxin operations within metres of their farms.
These Moehau residents know only too well the potential danger of a 1080 drop on the mountain. In June 2014, the slopes directly above their homes were hit with torrential, weather bomb flooding, washing thousands of tonnes of debris, rocks, mud, and carcasses on to their fields, sheds, back yards and houses.
Had the storm hit only nine months earlier, their farms would have been awash with thousands of deadly 1080 toxin pellets scattered, crushed or whole from DoC's last Moehau operation.
An environmental and public health disaster was averted but only by sheer chance, timing and luck.
Last month, DoC's aerial poison plan drew fire from Auckland business as well. Orakei-based premium pet food supplier K9 and Cat NZ contacted DoC with concerns and a request for official information. The company sells "100% natural" raw and natural goat and possum products "wild and certified free from poisons". It says expanded 1080 drops on the peninsula threaten the company's access to untainted product.
The economic effect of expanded poisoning on the tourist-dependent Coromandel economy has put DoC at further odds with locals. While the district council is on record as favouring exploration of a local trapping and hunting-based possum fur and meat industry, hospitality providers cite the adverse effects on tourism of roadside poison warning signs and vast expanses of off-limits, poisoned bush.
If poisoning expands, some say, a social media public relations disaster puncturing the "100% Pure" tourism myth is right around the corner.
Also making their voices heard are tangata whenua. Representatives of Ngati Hei, Ngati Huarere and Te Uringahu o Ngati Maru stated in recent years their respective iwi opposition to aerial 1080 on Moehau. This month, a spokesman for Ngati Tamatera Harataunga/Kuaotunu confirmed his hapu position - "No 1080 in our rohe".
A few years ago, hundreds of Coromandel Town locals marched in protest to stop a 1080 drop in the community's water catchment. Over a thousand residents and visitors signed a petition.
Now, with expanded 1080 operations planned this winter across the peninsula, it is unclear whether DoC policymakers have either forgotten or chosen to ignore the wider public.
Locals, businesses, council, and activists for the environment hope they will be heard in the coming weeks and that agreement on safe and sensible alternative controls will be reached. If not, the disaffection will certainly only smoulder.
• Geoffrey Robinson is a Port Charles organic vegetable producer and commentator on environmental and public policy issues in the Waikato.