Experience some of New Zealand's most endangered wildlife up close and in the wild at Pukaha Mount Bruce in northern Wairararapa. At this popular visitor destination you can see conservation in action as the future of threatened New Zealand wildlife is secured through pioneering captive breeding programmes at the National Wildlife Centre. Pukaha Mount Bruce also incorporates a visitor centre, café, education programmes, stunning interactive displays, and wheelchair access tracks through native bush. It's set against a backdrop of the primeval 942 hectare Pukaha Mount Bruce forest, into which native wildlife is being returned.
Pukaha Mount Bruce is in northern Wairarapa.
Pukaha Mount Bruce is located on State highway 2, 30 km north of Masterton and 10 km south of Eketahuna on State Highway 2.
Bird and wildlife watching
Child/family friendly activities
At the Visitor Centre
Before venturing into the forest, linger a while in the revamped visitor centre, where the stories of the wildlife, forest and activities of the centre are told through state-of-the-art, digital technology and interactive displays. You can journey back in time to experience the colours, sights and sounds of an ancient forest, inhabited by huia and moa. You can see computer-generated, moving images of birds that early settlers would have encountered when the forest was first noisy with birdlife, before much of it was cleared and burned for settlement.
In the Forest
Outside the centre you can explore the last remaining remnant of this once majestic forest. Surrounded by ancient forest trees and free flying native birds, you'll get a sense of how New Zealand used to be. Encounter wild kaka (large native parrots) as they swoop out of the forest for their 3pm daily feed. View kiwi poking through the leaf-litter in the nocturnal house. Watch the threatened native birds kokako, stitchbird, takahe, and kakariki in their leafy realm, and the massive eels churning the water at their daily 1.30 pm feed.
The captive residents include tuatara, the "living fossil" that roamed the earth at the same time as the dinosaurs. Make your way up to the summit via the Te Arapiki o Tawhaki walking track and you may be lucky enough to glimpse reintroduced kokako or hear their haunting song. Nocturnal kiwi have also been returned to the forest. Return to the visitor centre for lunch or afternoon tea at the Entice Too cafe. This overlooks the enclosure for the takahe, a colourful flightless bird that was saved from extinction through the pioneering efforts of the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre.
Plan & Prepare
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.