Roaming Down Under

Te Anau Wildlife Centre

A cost-free way to see rare or endangered native New Zealand birds

New Zealand has some great native birds you won't find anywhere else, however many of them are rare or endangered, and hard to find out in the wild. You could pay to visit some sort of zoo or wildlife park, but a cost-free alternative is to visit the Te Anau Wildlife Centre.

A friendly kaka at Te Anau Wildlife Centre, New Zealand

A friendly kaka

This centre is run by New Zealand's Department of Conservation, and houses native birds which are rare, endangered, injured or needing special care. It takes the form of aviaries and enclosures scattered among parklands on the edge of Lake Te Anau, about a kilometre from the town of Te Anau in the south island. Beneficiaries of this scenic sanctuary include the kereru (native pigeon), pukeko (blue flamingo), tui, kea, kakariki, kaka, takahe, and weka.

Although it can be reached by car, a more pleasant way to get there (weather permitting) is by following the path along the edge of the lake - about 15 minutes walk from the town's visitor centre is all it takes. That's how I accidentally found it ... I went for a stroll to explore the outstanding lake views and see where the path went, and suddenly found myself among an amazing assortment of birds. You can get quite close to some of them (if they cooperate), and information panels tell you something about what you're looking at.

Most people visit Te Anau in order to see Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, walk the Milford Track, or partake of the multitude of other well promoted excursions in the area. The Te Anau Wildlife Centre gets little publicity in comparison, but also deserves a place on any visitor's itinerary. Seeing so many beautiful birds in one charming location, with no entry fee, is a blessing all too many visitors miss out on.

Views of Lake Te Anau from the walk to the Te Anau Wildlife Centre, New Zealand

Views of Lake Te Anau from the walk to the centre

More information

Te Anau Wildlife Centre - NZ Dept of Conservation