Friday, December 26, 2008

Staglander 2: The Chickening

From Staglands

Yesterday we visited the Staglands Wildlife Reserve   

And it was extremely extremely cool.  As cool as holding a chicken up to your face.  Actually, cooler than that.

Basically Staglands is the biggest most beautiful and lush and well-kept and healthy-looking petting zoo you've ever seen.  It's about an hour north of Wellington proper out in the Akatarawa Valley (pronounced Akaratawa Valley) nestled in a dense and green valley amongst steeply sloping hills.  To get there required turning off of the main highway in Upper Hutt and following an extremely winding one lane road around many completely blind turns best negotiated witha kind of furtive terror.  There were two single-lane bridges over a stream and a riverbed, two blueberry farms (one of which doubled as a emu farm,) and a handful of art galleries and/or sculpture gardens.

On the way out there we found a place called "Efil Doog" which advertised 11 acres of gardens, sculptures, galleries and riperian beauty and which we took to be some British-Isles-sounding Gaelic or Welsh phrase meaning "art gardens" until Zoe pointed out that it's just "Good Life" spelled backwards.

Staglands itself charges admission.  It cost us $40 for a family admission to the Reserve, which seems pretty steep for a nature reserve and set my teeth on a skeptical edge until later when a few very tame Kea (native alpine parrots) completely won me over and I warmed up entirely to the whole experience.  By the end, the admission price hardly seemed like enough for the sort of experience we had and I really can't recommend it enough as a day-long family outing.

The whole idea is that the park arranges animals so that people can get right up to them and interact.  The creator/owner/maintainer asserts that intimate and personal interactions with animals can be life changing.  From the web page:

Aims of the Reserve

"It is my belief that an enormously rewarding and lifelong appreciation of wildlife can be kindled by a brief, intense encounter with an animal or a bird.  Ideally this will be in the wilds of our beautiful bush, maybe on a farm or even at home with grandma's budgie. Few children or adults have such an opportunity nowadays.

Staglands is my attempt to provide that encounter in an environment that is as good as I can possibly make it.

Native animals, birds and plants need our help. Many are unlikely to survive without our willingness to provide huge ongoing funding in the form of donations, taxes and physical effort. That willingness to provide help, I believe, is more likely if an interest has been kindled by an enjoyable, first hand experience, as can be obtained at Staglands."

John Simister.

And I'd have to say he achieves his goals in spades.

Here's a slideshow of us interacting with well-hand-tamed and lovingly-reared animals of all varieties (many "wild" animals raised in captivity.)  There are a lot of conservation efforts underway at Staglands as well.  It's not JUST the Coolest Petting Zoo Ever Conceived.


Anonymous said...

If you liked Staglands, you might also enjoy Lindale Farm.

More of a farm experience than focusing on native animals, but another chance to get up close and personal with common NZ animals. Great beehive behind glass in the honey shop too.

Also, ice cream.

MLW said...

Um, the pictures are beautiful, but I seem to be missing a beautiful girl in these pictures...
Give the people what they want! More Pictures of J, please!