Pukaha Mount Bruce has always been a popular destination for nature lovers. Now since the arrival of three little white kiwi, it’s positively booming.
Lured by the chance to see New Zealand’s only white kiwi in captivity, I head to the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre which straddles the bush clad covered hills nestled between the Wairarapa and Tararua regions, just 20 minutes north of Masterton on State Highway 2..
It’s a place where you can experience endangered wildlife up close and in the wild and see what is being done to save kiwi, tuatara, kokako, kaka and return them to our forest.
Even though I’ve been before, this time was all about seeing Manukura, one of three white kiwi successfully hatched at Mount Bruce. Manukura is now resident in the nocturnal Kiwi House while her sibling Mauriora was released into the 942-hectare reserve north of Masterton in 2013 and Mapuna is currently in a pre-release enclosure. The trio are not albino but the rare progeny of kiwi that were transferred to Pukaha from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island in May 2010.
Manukura, who as a chick captured the world’s media attention with her fluffy white feathers and curious nature, is now a large bird with a plume of white feathers that create a halo affect. I understand then and there why the local iwi Rangitane o Wairarapa saw the white chick as a ‘tohu’ or ‘sign’ of new beginnings.
She stands out in the darkened Kiwi House and is very active throughout her night time (our day). She seems comfortable and relaxed – oblivious to the dozens of visitors, which take time to sneak a peak as they walk past the window.
Seeing Manukura is surprisingly, a poignant experience. While her fragility is evident I am left confident she and her siblings will thrive at Pukaha. The centre is constantly regenerating the forest with endangered New Zealand birdlife including Kokako, North Island Kaka and Kiwi as well as other native birds including Tui, Kereru and Rifleman. It seems they are returning birdsong back to the bush.
- Manukura is resident in the nocturnal Kiwi House.
- Become a friend of Manukura on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ManukuraWhiteKiwi
- Brown Kiwi chicks hatched in captivity can be seen in the kiwi nursery during the breeding season Sept – April.