Visitors to the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park will soon walk into a realistic interpretation of New Zealand bush at night thanks to a $400,000 modernisation programme.
The first phase of the programme, headed by general manager Paul Stuart-Higgs, includes a "dusk till dawn" exhibit leading from the entrance into a re-imagined kiwi enclosure.
"It will show the general habitat of the kiwi and all things of New Zealand at night," Mr Stuart-Higgs, who joined the park from Melbourne Zoo where he was curator of bird, elephants and marine mammals, said. "People will be able to experience what it is like to be a kiwi."
It's the first major upgrade of the conservation themed attraction since it was built by pharmacist Barry Rowe, bricklayer Bob Horsfall and a doctor in 1971.
There will be no "don't touch" signs, as Mr Stuart-Higgs and the Otorohanga Zoological Society which owns the Alex Telfer Dr attraction is keen for the exhibit to be as interactive as possible.
"There will be touching so that people can experience what it is like. We want to make it fun for people."
The "dusk till dawn" exhibit will also take up the existing classroom facilities, so a new classroom has been built at Rotary Park for the children who visit on educational school trips.
The treetop walkway in the Barry Rowe Aviary will also be replaced and a new aviary for kakariki will also be built with the intention of teaching children the principles of research.
"Kakariki are very curious birds and they co-operate very well," he said.
Other enclosures are also to be upgraded.
Mr Stuart-Higgs hopes the first stage to be completed by November.
The second stage of the upgrade, which will require more funding, will include new shop and cafe facilities.
The kiwi house and native bird park includes the endangered great spotted, little spotted and North Island brown kiwi, but the rarest birds at the park are the New Zealand falcon.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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