Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre is one of the best places in the country to view endangered native birds and is staffed by people engaged in bringing those birds back from the edge. Kokako, kakariki, Campbell Island teal, hihi, kiwi, takahe and more can be found in spacious aviaries set along the trails through lowland primeval forest. Beyond the trail several thousand hectares of forest are used for reintroducing birds to the wild. The generous size of the cages on the trail and the thick foliage often make the birds hard to spot, so you’ll need to be patient.
More immediate gratification comes in the form of a stand of Californian redwoods, a nocturnal kiwi house, a new behind-the-scenes kiwi breeding facility, regular kiwi chick feedings (check times on entry), reptilian tuatara and closed-circuit cameras trained on other birds’ nests. A twenty-minute audiovisual gives a moving account of the decline of birdlife in New Zealand, or you can watch long-fin eels and kaka being fed. Alternatively join a two-hour guided tour with a ranger to add context, or a twilight tour to add atmosphere and change perspective. There is also a picnic area and café.