Kiwi House invests in makeover

RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014
 Otorohanga Kiwi House, which has been awaiting construction for two years
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FACELIFT: A graphic design of the new look Otorohanga Kiwi House, which has been awaiting construction for two years

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A half a million dollar upgrade to the famed Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park is set to bring the feathered attraction into the 21st century.

Kiwi House president Jo Russell said construction was set to begin in 2012, but because of the Christchurch earthquake building regulations had to be reviewed and the facelift was put on hold.

Two years on staff were finally ready to gut the place and rebuild, she said.

King Country Development Board contributed $100,000 for the project to build an interactive display exhibition space, which will give visitors a glimpse of life through a kiwi's eyes.

The main building upgrade is valued at $400,000 - the first major upgrade of the conservation-themed attraction since it was built in 1971. A second kiwi nocturnal house, valued at $80,000 will be built on a nearby empty site.

"It's the biggest overhaul to the Kiwi House we have seen," wildlife manager Lizzy Perrett said. "We know a lot more now about kiwi's tolerance to light and sound. We know they tolerate coloured lights now but not white lights, so we can use that to provide a better visitor experience."

Burrow cameras, better lighting and changes to the feeding regime will provide better viewing of the rare bird.

The popular concrete kiwi at the entrance will remain untouched. "That's the most photographed kiwi in New Zealand," Russell said.

About 44,000 visitors wander through the attraction each year to see the native flora and fauna. The Kiwi House is currently home to 14 brown kiwi, three spotted kiwi and one precious egg.

The Kiwi House and Native Bird Park is not for profit and does not receive any government funding. Perrett said the upgrade would be complete in time for the peak summer season.

rachel.thomas@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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