Children camping illustration

Image: DOC


Earn a Kiwi Guardians medal by creating a wētā 'motel' in your backyard! It's a home for wētā to crawl into, to protect them from being eaten by introduced predators like rats, stoats, cats and hedgehogs.


About wētā motels

  • Wētā live in holes but there really aren’t that many holes in trees. That’s why wētā dig under stones or chew through rotten logs to make their homes.
  • Wētā motels are no-fuss homes for wētā. They find one, crawl in and relax. You can place a wētā motel in a tree, under a tree and even on a fence post.
  • Big heavy animals can squash wētā.
  • Female wētā lay 100-300 eggs so if you build a home they like and wētā live there, their numbers will grow!

Explore your backyard

Explore your garden and see if you have some wētā already. Find out what kind of wētā you have, or what kind of wētā like to live in your area.

Think about what would make a great wētā home – this will help you work out where to put your wētā motel.

Sawing a log.
Saw a small log in half

Chisel out a cavity for the weta gallery.
Chisel out the wētā gallery

Drill a hole for the entrance hole.
Drill a hole for the entrance tunnel

A 3 star weta motel.
A completed 3 star wētā motel

Build a wētā motel

3 star wētā motel

A 3 star wētā motel is simple and fun to make. Experiment! Weta don’t care if it’s a crooked little house!

  • Start with a small log and saw it in half.
  • Chisel out the weta gallery and drill an entrance tunnel.
  • Nail or bind the two halves together and nail on a roof.
  • Hang or tie the motel in a tree in a shady spot at about eye level.

5 star wētā motel

Try making this 5 star wētā motel. Using this plan, you can create a 10 unit 'motel'  in your garden for wētā.

5 star wētā motel design (PDF, 232K)

It’s great but takes longer to make than the 3 star model.

It has been designed by Victoria University of Wellington entomologist Professor George Gibbs, who has given permission for the Department of Conservation to distribute it.

Handy hints for making weta motels

  • Wētā like motels that are made from willow and aged pine (rather than fresh pine).
  • Entrance tunnel holes should be 18 mm or slightly less in size to stop mice (10 mm is too small), and quite long and sloping down from the top or the side. 
  • Wētā don’t like vertical tunnels heading up from the bottom. 
  • Wētā like to enlarge their rooms or galleries and they like deep galleries and wood that isn’t rotting.
  • Wētā prefer motels without windows but they will live in motels with windows as long as their gallery is deep. 
  • The windows should be made from perspex or plastic from a bottle with shutters that can be closed. They should be removable for cleaning because they go mouldy.
  • Wētā will live in motels with more than one gallery but you’ll probably get more wētā if you have more single room motels.
  • In the forest wētā move in within three months and after a year they have about four wētā in each motel.
  • Wētā like motels and backyards that don’t have rats!

Claim your Kiwi Guardians medal

Kiwi Guardians medal for building a wētā motel.
Kiwi Guardians medal for building a wētā motel

Tell us if there are any wētā in your backyard and about the wētā motel you’ve built, and we’ll send you Kiwi Guardians Habitat Creator medal.

  • What did your motel look like?
  • How did you build it?
  • Has anything moved in yet?

Complete the claim form to tell us about your activity, and we'll send you a medal. Each Kiwi Guardians action has a different medal – see how many you can collect.

Tells us about your activity

The team at Toyota Kiwi Guardians would love to hear about what you did. Send us an email, or share something online using #KiwiGuardians, so we can share it with others. Visit Kiwi Guardians Facebook page.

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