Have you been to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari?
It's not exactly a hidden treasure, as it's hard to hide a 3400-hectare mountain encompassed by a large pest-proof fence — in fact, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is the largest pest-proof-fenced sanctuary project in the world! Located in Pukeatua, Waikato, the maunga is home to an abundance of native bird life, forest, reptiles, insects, fish, and plants. There's so much to explore that you'll definitely need to set aside the best part of a day to make sure you have enough time to take it all in.
Five of us travelled to the maunga recently, and after visiting the information centre (which is home to a huge amount of amazing art work and goodies to be purchased — I nearly bought a baby onesie with a tui on it ... which I currently have no use for, but it was so beautiful), and purchasing our access cards, we were through the pest-proof fence and on our way deep into the forest. There are several tracks to choose from on the maunga, with some being quite long and others being quite short stints. On this particular visit we were all feeling up for a challenge, so we decided to explore all of the tracks available. You can practically customise a unique experience for yourself based on your track selection, and if you're not too sure, the people at the information centre are very helpful in telling you where they had seen the most wildlife activity each day.
Throughout our journey, we managed to meet a huge array of native birds. We met a baby tui as soon as we walked through the gates (at least we think it was a baby tui as it did not yet have the white tuft), we were also greeted shortly after this by a tomtit and several robins. The various bird feeders were great locations for us to get quite close to a male and female hihi, and we also had several very close encounters with kaka! If you're keen to get quite close to a kaka, I thoroughly recommend heading up to the top of the viewing tower and waiting there for awhile. A curious kaka will be with you in no time — in fact, we had three visit us while we were up there.
The maunga is also a beautiful location for a walk through native forest, with plenty of information boards located near the various types of plants and trees to give you a bit of background information on the species.
All of this information, as well as the relative ease of the walking experience, makes the maunga a beautiful place to take your kids to help them build their knowledge and awareness of New Zealand's beautiful forest and wildlife. When you've got a day free, I thoroughly recommend heading to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. Make sure you let me know if you get there!
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari
99 Tari Road, Pukeatua,