Up close and personal with nature at Staglands

Nestled in the Hutt Valley's beautiful Akatarawa Valley is a place where nature takes centre stage


Upper Hutt


2362 Akatarawa Road
Akatarawa Valley

Staglands Wildlife Reserve offers one of those rare opportunities to interact with the local fauna on its own terms, making the experience both natural and genuine.

Here, 25 acres of bush, farmland and wetlands have been sensitively cultivated into an idyllic home for some of the country’s most iconic and endangered species, blending tourism, conservation and education.

Getting up close and personal with the friendly animals and birds is part of the package at Staglands, where hand feeding, bush walks, eel spotting and native bird encounters are all on offer in a rural paradise, far from the hustle of the city and too-busy life.

Top things to do at Staglands

  • Take a Lunchtime Feeding Tour with a Staglands Ranger to learn more about the animals and help to feed them 
  • Go on a free Off-Road Tractor-Trailer Ride to explore Staglands – includes some thrilling river crossings (weekends, public & school holidays) 
  • During the cooler months, toast a marshmallow on the cosy campfire down by The Barn 
  • Explore the Old Bush Settlement & Railway and have a ride on the bush railway
  • Get up close and personal with intelligent and inquisitive kea in their new gold standard aviary, which features viewing windows, ponds, bespoke housing, and natural planting

The story of how Staglands came to be

The reserve began half a century ago when conservationist and wildlife-lover John Simister realised his childhood dream of creating a place for birds and animals to live freely and protected in their natural habitat. His goal was to create a beautiful environment so meticulously and with such forethought, that in many places it would be hard to tell it had been created by human hands.

He certainly succeeded and today, Staglands has a range of different environments, both natural and manmade, including forest wetlands, trout and eel pools, aviaries, stables, open hillsides for deer, a magical secret garden, and even an old bush settlement – a nostalgic recreation of an abandoned pioneering village deep in the forest brilliant for hands-on learning and photo opportunities.

Conservation of native animals and plants

The reserve’s conservation efforts mainly centre on the preservation of native species, and there is a large variety living at Staglands. Whio, kea, pāteke, scaup and grey teal among others, are native birds you’ll likely see during a visit, while rare animal breeds such as Kunekune and Auckland Island pigs, and Arapawa Island goats also make their home in the reserve. Several thousand native plants and ferns are also planted each year, and captive breeding programmes for native birds are carried out in partnership with the Department of Conservation.

It's not easy to entertain a 2-year-old for 3 hours without complaint but Staglands managed it with ease. The café is a lovely addition too. Perfect for a hot chocolate before heading home.

Mark, Wellington - Tripadvisor

Spend a day at Staglands

With so much to see and do, it can be tricky to fit everything into one day, but taking a guided tour, such as the daily lunchtime feeding tour, or weekend and school holiday off-road tractor and trailer tour, is a great way to get the most out of your time. Both of these are free to join.

Relax after a busy day exploring with delicious homemade food in the log-cabin café, or if you prefer you can picnic – or even barbecue at The Barn, a beautiful, rustic space overlooking a picturesque pond and waterfall that is open in the day for visitors to enjoy or that can be privately hired for events.

Even if you do manage to get right around the reserve during your visit there is so much to experience and the surroundings are so beautiful, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself wanting to visit again soon.

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