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Home of the Giant Wētāpunga

Did you know that Butterfly Creek is home to the largest species of Giant Wētā, the mighty Wētāpunga? 

Established by Butterfly Creek in 2009, the Captive Rear-and-Release Programme for the Wētāpunga has played a vital role in securing a safe future for this endangered species.

No longer found on the mainland and active mostly at night, most New Zealanders will never get a chance to see to see this weird and wonderful native species. But now you can at Butterfly Creek. Over the past 12 years Butterfly Creek has committed significant resources to animal conservation including the mighty Wētāpunga, Northern Brown Kiwi and other endangered species as part of established conservation programmes. Find out more about some of our great conservation work below.

Butterfly Creek – Home of the Giant Wētāpunga

We are delighted to announce that Butterfly Creek will soon be opening our new breeding center for Giant Wētāpunga. In 2009 Butterfly Creek established the Giant Wētā (Wētāpunga) – Captive Rear and Release Programme. This ground-breaking, privately financed initiative ensured that for the first time ever this threatened species could be bred in captivity before being released into a select number of suitable habitats.

The Wētāpunga was once found on the mainland throughout Auckland and Northland, however due to massive habitat loss and predation it became restricted to Little Barrier Island. The team at Butterfly Creek, along with the Department of Conservation, have been doing their bit to help build up populations of this amazing insect.

In 2012 Butterfly Creek Wētāpunga staff then helped train Auckland Zoo staff so that they too could actively participate in securing a safe future for the Wētāpunga.  We have since educated other Zoo’s on best practice. Since Butterfly Creek started the Wētāpunga breeding programme, a large number of the species have successfully been released onto Tiritiri Matangi and Motuora Islands – with other release locations planned for the near future.

Kiwi Conservation

Butterfly Creek, with it’s strong focus on meaningful conversation is an active participant and contributor to the conservation programme for the Northern Brown Kiwi.

In 2017 Butterfly Creek opened Kiwi Forest, our New Zealand native area, the flagship exhibit being a state-of-the art kiwi nocturnal house. The house provides a superb nocturnal environment catering to every need of our two Northern Brown kiwi. The heavily planted exhibit boasts a highly advanced lighting system in a temperature-controlled environment and with triple glazed viewing all contributing to a wonderful night forest environment for them to exhibit their natural behaviour.

The two Kiwi at Butterfly Creek are now part of the nationwide captive population of Brown Kiwi. Young kiwi arrive at Butterfly Creek where they then spend 2 or 3 years maturing into adults. When able to fend for themselves, they are then released into a suitable “wild” habitat.

Whilst at Butterfly Creek they provide an excellent educational vehicle for visitors who not only have an opportunity to see  Kiwi but also to learn about how special Kiwi are and how important it is to safeguard their future.

Funding Conservation

Butterfly Creek is a self-funded zoo and conservation centre. Unlike council run zoos, Butterfly Creek does not receive any funding  by way of ratepayer subsidies. Rather, we commit our own resources through visitor admissions and donations to achieve the most efficient conservation initiatives and outcomes.

Want to help?

Help us keep up our conservation work on track by either purchasing an Annual Pass so you can visit whenever you like, or you can donate to the fund which will be used for ongoing animal welfare and conservation.

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