We have only got one day in Masterton and we use this time to devote it to our new favourite hobby – bird’s life in New Zealand. We spend the day in the POC Wildlife Center Pukaha Mount Bruce situated a bit north of Masterton. It’s so beautiful here, we really love it! After six hours the attendant finally has to exhort us to leave.
Originally the region was covered with deep forests. The once called “70 miles forest” unfortunately diminished to just a very small area, birds had meanwhile migrated totally. Ambition of the Wildlife Center is to refill this forest with the voices of birds, and one part of this way they have already gone successfully. Unfortunately it is impossible to draw a pest fence around the whole reserve due to the very impassable grounds. Therefore rangers have to fight constantly against dangerous mammals. They try to keep down their numbers with poisonous baits and traps so the birds get a chance.
Pukaha Mount Bruce is at the same time known for its bird research as well as its projects in brooding and breeding. Different kinds of birds are raised and then released into the wild. On youtube we saw a video showing the tiny white Kiwi chick hatching. Now at the end of November visitors are allowed to view the feeding of the little one. What a sensational experience!
In the nocturnal house it is the first time for us in our lives to see real fully grown Kiwis, one brown and two white ones. I at once fall in love with these strange creatures! The bird looks like a pear on two legs, and it is much bigger than I imagined, more like a chicken. Although this is only the smallest of all Kiwi breeds – I am curious about what is waiting for us in Okarito! I could stand here at this pane for hours to watch the Kiwis, but there are still so many other highlights in this park to see.
We decide to take the long loop walk around the reserve to get some physical excercise after the long trip yesterday, up to the look-out. I should have known: Always up, up, up, for one long hour. Finally reaching the top I am totally covered in sweat but the views are unbelievably beautiful. Apparently we are the only visitors today to take this paths, most of them are concentrating on the aviaries and the visitor center. As we are on our own it is possible to just stand still from time to time and listen to the birds voices. We also see one or the other though we are not able to name each of them.
The descent is much faster as we didn’t bring a picnic and long for a break in the café (absolutely recommendable, the food is great!). The program of today is rounded off with the feeding of the Kakas and a tour all around an interactive gallery with a lot of information concerning flora and fauna of New Zealand, the history of the park and its efforts to preserve the birds world. Of course we also have to visit the gift shop. Yes, I admit I am a gift shop junkie.