Just south of Cambridge (not far from Hamilton) on New Zealand’s North Island lies Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. I must confess I had never heard of it until a friend suggested a visit. What a delight it proved to be.
In essence, it is the largest fenced pest-proof project in the world at 3,400 hectares (with 47km of special fencing)…a whole mountain has been fenced off and pests such as rats and stoats have been excluded…and only a few mice remain. What this means is that the native birds stand a chance. Well-maintained tracks enable you to tour the enclosures (with optional guided tours in the day or at night) and we had the privilege of seeing Kaka (NZ native parrots which are fabulous to watch – very noisy and bags of character) and Tuatara (a living dinosaur) in the wild (albeit protected).
The night tour also yielded the sights of Cave Weta and Tree Weta (which can draw blood if it bites you) – huge members of the cricket family…and a number of native spiders such as Orb Web, Sheet Web and Vagrant spiders. Check out the bizarre Giraffe Weevil as well.
This is all run by volunteers and is a fabulous place to visit. Here are some photos from one of my favourite attractions so far seen in NZ. If you are here, do visit and help keep this project moving forward…maybe one day the pest proof fence will expand out to cover the whole island!