Staglands Wildlife Reserve, a peaceful escape about an hour outside of Wellington’s hustle and bustle, is fun for children and big kids of all ages. Walk through a custom-designed nature park full of animals, from wild goats and guinea pigs to rainbow trout and endangered native birds, and feed and get to know these friendly critters. The Basics
Established in 1972, Staglands Wildlife Reserve & Café is a unique nature experience nestled in the isolated Akatarawa Valley. The reserve is home to a range of animal species, including domesticated animals, farm animals, and endangered native birds such as the kea, kaka, and whio (blue duck). Staglands runs several conservation programs to protect and preserve these native birds, and you can learn all about them as you walk through the reserve’s various enclosures, all surrounded by the Akatarawa bush.
Deep in the reserve you can also find a secluded Old Bush Settlement, a re-creation of the bush settlements that occupied this forest in the mid-19th century. Children can take a boxcar railway around the settlement, and families young and old can enjoy free off-road tractor-trailer rides through and around the nearby river. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Staglands Wildlife Reserve is ideal for animal lovers and families with children.
- Buy entry tickets in advance online to save time upon arrival.
- Children under 4 years old receive free admission, and there are discounted family passes for groups with two adults and up to three children.
- Staglands Café offers coffee, cabinet food, and a lunch menu in a traditional log building.
- The reserve is home to some free-roaming animals, including rabbits, geese, and peacocks, so keep an eye on your food bags.
- Be sure to bring sturdy walking shoes, sunscreen, and/or a rain jacket (depending on the weather). If needed, you can buy raincoats and ponchos at the ticket office.
- Much of Staglands is accessible to wheelchair users (and entry is free for them and their caregivers), but parts of the reserve are not due to steep or narrow paths.
Staglands is located deep in the Akatarawa Valley, about a 1-hour drive from Wellington. If you’re driving from Wellington, take State Highway 2 past Upper Hutt and follow the signs; from Kapiti, exit the Kapiti Expressway at Waikanae and turn off Waikanae’s Main Road at Elizabeth Street. Note that Akatarawa Road is windy and narrow and can be a difficult drive, even in good conditions.When to Get There
Staglands is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. The reserve is most popular during the New Zealand school holidays and on weekends in summer (roughly December to April), so if you want to avoid the crowds, visit during the weekday or early on a weekend.
Activities for the Young (and Young at Heart)
Staglands has lots of activities and adventures for young visitors. On top of boxcar and tractor-trailer rides, there are daily free animal-feeding tours. After exploring, children can let off some steam at the Kids Corner, with a rope swing, a river for swimming, and plenty of open space for playing. There’s even the chance to toast some marshmallows over a campfire during the winter months.