Sirocco makes welcome return to mountain

Sirocco, the only bird in the world with a government job.
Sirocco, the only bird in the world with a government job.

New Zealand's star kakapo has arrived from Wellington for a six-week guest slot at Mangatautari Visitors Centre. Sirocco, one of 126 kakapo left in the world, was appointed the official spokesbird for conservation in 2010 by Prime Minister John Key.

Sirocco gained worldwide attention in 2009 when his amorous antics were filmed in the documentary Last Chance to See, fronted by British actor Stephen Fry. Footage captured Sirocco trying to mate with zoologist Mark Carwardine's head.

The flightless parrot, who commands his own seat on aeroplanes, was hosted by Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust in 2012.

He proved a huge drawcard during his seven-week stay which was extended for a week because of demand. During his stay at Maungatautari Sirocco charmed and delighted more than 4000 visitors.

Tours at the visitors centre will shed light on how the Kakapo Recovery Programme and Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust are working together to raise the profile of the species.

Organisers are expecting record numbers again this year and are hinting at an even better show.

Online booking numbers are already strong, said project manager for the event, Charlotte Tollervey.

"We very much plan to give visitors to this year's event an experience they will never forget. I don't want to give too much away - but we plan on fully utilising our beautiful surroundings here at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and adding a touch of drama to an already atmospheric evening."

Sirocco will be receiving visitors during nightly tours until September 16.

Tours will be based at the Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari Visitor Centre in Pukeatua, 30 minutes from Cambridge. For more information and tickets go to

Waikato Times