Kaka feeding at the Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre. © Russell Street Creative Commons

Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre: all that’s good and great and native in the avian category

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Right regular Kiwi bloke’s name, Bruce, and this amazing wildlife centre is filled with the most Kiwi of creatures, especially bird-like ones.

Here be kiwi, and while no one can ever guarantee you a sighting (clue: they’re nocturnal), if you’re going to see the national bird, this is probably the best place. But wait, as they say, there’s more. A veritable laundry list of all that’s good and great and native in the avian category: wild — yet quite gregarious — kaka, their relative the kakapo (the world’s only flightless parrot), the rare stitchbird or hihi and the beautiful takahe.

And if you prefer scales to feathers, the legendary tuatara are here as well, 200 million years old and counting.

With all these species either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered (on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species scale), this is a unique opportunity to see them all in one place. It also gives you a real understanding of New Zealand itself, and the wild and exotic creatures that once flourished here (and we don’t just mean the hippies who cut you off on State Highway 2). It’s kind of an ecological timewarp. In a good way.

While here you can set off from the centre and walk the Te Arapiki o Tawhaki track, which gives you stunning views of the region, and work up a good hunger for a sandwich when you get back down to the Wildlife Centre.

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