Date: 19 November 2009 Source: Pukaha Mount Bruce Board
Visitors to Pukaha Mount Bruce will become much more a part of the kiwi conservation experience in a planned $1.5 million upgrade and expansion of the existing nocturnal house and other outdoor facilities at the National Wildlife Centre.
The existing kiwi enclosures will completely be renovated and enhanced by relocating the Operation Nest Egg kiwi programme into the nocturnal house and introducing new viewing facilities. Visitors will be able to see into the incubation room and the brooders where the kiwi chicks hatch and are looked after until they are returned to the forest. A two-way intercom will enable visitors to interact with the rangers.
The nocturnal kiwi house at Pukaha
Mount Bruce is being upgraded
Theatre seating for up to 50 people will allow visitors to view a series of short films which draw the links between the Operation Nest Egg programme and the pest control and forest restoration work being undertaken at Pukaha.
The project is the second stage of an overall upgrade of centre facilities. A year ago the colours, sights and sounds of an ancient forest, inhabited by huia and moa, were recreated indoors as part of a double award-winning $1.4 million redevelopment of the visitor centre.
“Our visitors tell us seeing a kiwi is the ‘must do’ on their visit to Pukaha,” said Pukaha Mount Bruce Board chair Bob Francis. “We plan to make sure that a visit to our nocturnal house exceeds their expectations. Already our kiwi viewing area is regarded as one of the best in New Zealand but we want to do more. We believe we are the only reserve where kiwi are on view to the public, and where they are released back into their own environment – our own 940 hectares of forest.
"Our 20-year old existing nocturnal house is in need of major repair to bring it up to 21st century standards and to create a great environment for our visitors and the rangers and other staff to work in.”
Raising the existing building by 800mm and installing a new base and floor will solve flooding problems. A major upgrade of the building structure, cladding, linings, heating and ventilation, electrical work and a new roof are also planned. A new entranceway with a sloping pathway up to the nocturnal house will make a stronger statement that won’t be missed.
The proposed new entranceway
to the nocturnal house at Pukaha
In addition to the nocturnal house work, stage two includes improving the tuatara enclosure and outdoor signage, displays, and interactive mediums. It is hoped that new exhibits will include native frogs, weta, weevils, skinks and geckos. The café kitchen and public toilets will also be upgraded.
Mr Francis said as with last year’s stage one redevelopment, stage two would be funded by donations, grants and fund raising. Commitments have so far been received from Tararua District Council, Masterton District Council and a major funder. Mr Francis said a number of funding applications were in place with more to be done.
Subject to funding being confirmed work on stage two is expected to begin in April 2010 with an opening planned for the 2010 summer season.
In other developments Pukaha Mount Bruce yesterday launched its new website www.pukaha.org.nz and a new membership and supporters drive which includes several tiers of membership and a variety benefits.
“The membership is crucial to the forest restoration work and bringing more birds back and the website is a major marketing tool for us which reflects the work done over many years and the recent improvements,” said Mr Francis.
The new return walking track through the forest to a lookout, completed by Department of Conservation last year, is now being extended to become a loop track.
New visitor experiences recently introduced include a night time adventure for children, visits to nesting kaka, a guided lunch tour to the lookout and children’s birthday parties.
Outdoor attractions at Pukaha include takahē talks, daily giant eel and kaka feeding, guided tours by DOC rangers, and the viewing of native birds in aviaries and the native forest. ENDS