With an area that is abundant in natural attractions, it is no wonder that conservation is high on the agenda in the Hamilton & Waikato region. From local to international programs, the region boasts informative and interactive ways for the public to experience reserves and wildlife in a sustainable manner which will benefit conservation efforts for future generations.
Key attractions such as Hamilton Zoo, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and Otorohanga Kiwi House have built their foundations around conservation, while projects such as the Waiwhakareke restoration, Project Halo and more thrive on community involvement.
Hamilton Zoo strives to ‘inspire conservation action’ both locally and abroad. The zoo’s goal is to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of animals in the wild, and uses the Hamilton Zoo Conservation Fund to support these efforts; with 10% of revenue from animal encounters such as the Face2Face encounters going towards their fund.
Above this, Hamilton Zoo is involved in international breeding programmes for many species including red panda, Sumatran tiger and southern white rhinoceros and native programmes like breeding brown teal (Pateke) for release to the wild - having welcomed many new arrivals into each programme over the last few years. Home to a vast number of native and exotic wildlife including lemur, cheetah, and a variety of monkeys, as well as native wildlife including tuatara and Hochstetters frog the zoo also offers several educational elements such as Meet the Keeper talks.
Hamilton Zoo also boasts the largest walk-through aviary in New Zealand dedicated to native birds and plants.
A haven for native birdlife, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is the largest ecological ‘island’ reserve on mainland New Zealand. Kiwi, kokako, tuatara, kaka and more are flourishing in the pest free environment, which is surrounded by a 47km predator proof fence. The 3,400-hectare reserve offers a range of great walking trails, with ample birdwatching opportunities, along with a 16-metre-high canopy tower, providing views of the lush native forest.
Forest and wetland areas are continually being restored, with ongoing plans to re-introduce new native species on the mountain on a regular basis. Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is fast becoming a sustainable visitor activity which will also support their conservation efforts.
Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park
The Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park has been contributing to the conservation of our native kiwi since 1971. With an active breeding programme in place, the Kiwi House significantly contributes to the kiwi’s population growth around NZ and the world.
One of the only places in New Zealand where the public can see Kiwi in their natural nocturnal environment, the Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park is dedicated to the conservation of New Zealand’s native wildlife through education, displays and breeding programs. With the likes of teal, falcon, weka, kaka, kea, tui, NZ wood pigeon and more all calling the Kiwi house home, and initiative such as the ‘Adopt a Kiwi House Critter’ program, there is ample opportunity for the public to get involved in the conservation efforts.
The Kiwi House is also now aiming to repair their predator proof fence, with a recent boost is funding efforts assisting them to do so.
Wetlands support a greater diversity of native fish, birdlife, invertebrates and plants than most habitats. The National Wetlands Trust aims to set up a state-of-the-art interpretation centre at Rotopiko/Lake Serpentine, just south of Hamilton City with the goal of pest eradication and habitat restoration – creating a haven for birdlife such as North Island fern bird, spotless crake, Australasian bittern and long-tailed bats.
The centre will also provide research and educational facilities, heritage trails and more for the public to enjoy and interact with the conservation efforts.
Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park
At 60 hectares, the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park is New Zealand’s largest inland restoration project aiming to recreate the Hamilton Basin’s previously rich ecological diversity.
The Hamilton Halo Project is a community involved project striving to bring native birds such as tui and bellbird back into Hamilton City.
Unique to New Zealand, the Long Tailed Bat is one of only two remaining native terrestrial mammals, with Hamilton City being one of the only cities in NZ to still support a population. Project Echo gathers information on bat distribution in Hamilton City with an aim to lead to on-going work to protect bat roosting trees and provide predator control. Waikato Museum also offers and informative and entertaining insight into the bat population in Hamilton with their Bat Tours.