There’s nothing like taking a ride on a donkey cart to remind you that you’ve escaped the city. These rides are just a small portion of the adventures found at the Staglands Wildlife Reserve on
the outskirts of Wellington, where families are playfully paired with nature. Pet the curious piglets in the barn, watch geese waddle through the wetlands or take a walk through the hidden forest Akatawara bush settlement.
The reserve offers entertaining ways for both adults and children to experience New Zealand’s rare native wildlife. The kea alpine parrot, for example, is usually only seen in the upper reaches
of the mountainous parts of the South Island. Here on the Staglands Reserve, however, visitors can encounter a mischievous, green-feathered kea without having to climb any mountains. There
are also free-roaming rabbits to pet in the grass and rare birds to see. The reserve has child-sized boxcars that run along railways past fields thick with birds, as well as a swing bridge and a wishing well to create adventurous experiences for young travelers.
Staglands Wildlife Reserve is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day of the year except Christmas Day. Entrance costs $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and students and $8 for children ages 3 to 15. The reserve sells bags of food that visitors can feed to the animals and fish and also offers $4 cart rides between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The site is located less than an hour’s drive from Wellington in the Akatarawa Valley; there is no public transport to the reserve.