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Pukaha National Wildlife Centre

January 6, 2021

Located 20 minutes north of Masterton at Mount Bruce, Pukaha is home to some of New Zealand’s most endangered wildlife.

The Mount Bruce reserve is a restored forest and captive breeding site, former home to Manukura, the only white kiwi in captivity, who sadly passed away late December 2020, and other endangered wildlife such as takahē, kōkako, kākā and longfin eels.

On your visit you will discover a world of wildlife including birds, reptiles, aquatic life and invertebrates all with a fascinating history and all in need of conservation.

You can visit and enjoy at your leisure or there are educational talks throughout the day from the rangers plus a range of guided tours from a 1 hour tour where you will learn the stories behind the birds and plants. Alternatively there is a family tour. You can join the local iwi, Rangitane, wandering through the bush learning about the wildlife, trees and traditional stories of the Tangata Whenua (people of the land). Listen to ancient stories of the Pūkaha forest. Discover Māori whakapapa (genealogy), spirituality and connection to place. Includes shared kai (food) of kawakawa tea and bread.

If you prefer you could choose a night tour where you go on an unforgettable search for kiwi, wētā, and eels, and also check out the glow worm cave. Or you can go on a Wildlife Photography Workshop, suitable for all levels and all photographic equipment (yes, smart phones too).

For the ultimate you can be a “Ranger for a Day” where you can take an active role in what happens in the Park including things that may include weighing kiwi, feeding bush birds and cleaning inside aviaries.

There are also options for those with campervans if you’d like to combine a stay with a dawn or night tour.

Conservation

Since its conception as the Mount Bruce reserve, the area has long been involved in captive breeding programmes for native species. As a consequence of this many of New Zealand’s native birds have been successfully bred and subsequently released back into the wild.

The wildlife park also has a goal around forest restoration to restore the mauri (life essence) of the forest. They are doing this is by removing plant and animal pest species, increasing the number and species diversity of native flora and fauna within the Reserve and supporting Pūkaha’s captive breeding efforts.

Their restoration programme is in a constant state of reevaluation and analysis. Working closely with the local Department of Conservation Office and also Boffa Miskell for additional expert advice.

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