When we left Tongariro National Park, we had to go back to Auckland to deal with a few things, like banks and doctors. We had a 4+ hour drive, so we stopped at Otorohanga and visited the Otorohanga Kiwi House. It’s one of the places that works for the conservation of NZ wildlife.
It’s not a very big place and it cost NZ$59 for a family of 5 (+ Coral, she’s a preschooler and had free entry – April 2016). It’s close to Waitomo Caves and the Forgotten World Highway, but not much else. It’s more than 2 hours drive from Auckland.
We got there at a little past 1 pm. At 1.30, they have the kiwi feeding time. They’re the first place you get to see, right by the entry. It’s dark, but it’s a lot easier to see than Auckland Zoo. They had 2 kiwis there, one brown and one spotted. Both HUGE! The feeding time was fun, there was a keeper outside the cage talking about the kiwis and giving us the chance to ask her what we wanted, and one inside, feeding one of the kiwis. She patted, fed and the kiwi (a 15 years old named Atu) even jumped onto the keeper’s lap! So sweet!
After that, we kept walking. Around 1/3 of the cages were empty – it can mean that the animals were released into the wild, but most weren’t or the animals were really well hidden. It was a bit disappointing.
The good part was the keepers: all of them were really nice, helpful and they knew their stuff.
They had lizards, geckos, and tuataras, and they were easy to find. The kiwi display right at the beginning was very informative, complete, and fun. There were also posters explaining all about each animal.
The aviary dome was full of kakarikis (an NZ species of the parakeet) and we were able to feed them! One keeper showed up and gave us bird food. The kakariki would come onto our hands and eat happily, even from Coral who kept moving and talking. Joao kept talking about the time he had one kakariki in each hand and one on his shoulder. Melissa also fell in love with them. Jose was very proud that he was the first one to get the birds to come and Coral was sad they didn’t want her to pat them. That was the best part for our kids – and us. We spent a lot of time there with them. We were lucky to be there when the keeper was going to feed them because many people came by afterward and didn’t get the same chance – although we did share while we had bird food left.
The aviary was very fun, it had loads of different birds and they kept flying right past our heads, stopping really close by.
All in all, we would have paid that price just for the fun at the dome aviary with the kakarikis, so it was completely worth the money and the time. Seeing the Kiwis up close was a bonus! We had a lot of fun!
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