With the forest now a pale shadow of it's former self, the Department of Conservation has created the Pukaha Mount Bruce Restoration Reserve. The Reserve aims to restore, as far as possible, the former glory of the 70-Mile-Bush.
We arrived at Mt Bruce with time to view the aviaries which are now used to breed birds prior to the feeding of the kaka bird. The Kaka clearly knew it was feeding time and were flying around in anticipation of feeding time. At 15:00 sharp, two members of staff arrived at the feeding area. The kaka has grown from under 10 birds when the project started to around 70 now. Many of the birds that visited during "lunch" untagged, meaning that they were born and grew in the wild.
Mt Bruce also plays host to a kiwi house. As the kiwi is a nocturnal bird, the light-cycle has been reversed. So when it's day outside, it's night in the kiwi house and vice versa. The Kiwi house provides a unique oppurtunity to see what kiwi birds get up to. They've got two kiwis in their habitat. They've even got a webcam, a.k.a. "Burrowcam", just in case the Kiwi decide to hang out in their burrow.
One of Mt Bruce's projects is the re-vitalisation of the Kiwi. They've taken eggs from the wild and incubated them artificially before releasing them into the wild (see elsewhere on this site) in order to improve the chances of the the Kiwis survial chances. Mt Bruce also provides an enclosure where Kiwis are prepared for release to the wild. The enclosure is protected by a wall large enough to protect the birds from the predators. Kiwi eggs are most under threat as they are vunerable in the nest.
This to me were two of the greatest successes of Mount Bruce. The breeding was working. The staff were clearly enthusiastic about their work and enthused about what they did.
We wish all the staff at Mt Bruce the best of luck with their future restoration of the 70-mile-bush.
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Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook