Visit Ngā Manu, Kāpiti’s tranquil and special nature reserve
The secret’s out - with rare forests, picnic spots and native wildlife, this nature reserve is a top spot to go for a day out
Offering the coast a pocket of peace and a place to learn more about the area’s native wildlife and fauna, Ngā Manu welcomes visitors every day of the week.
The reserve was born in the 1970s when Peter McKenzie pursued his dream of creating a place where New Zealand’s indigenous wildlife and plants could thrive, and the local and broader community could learn more about our great outdoors. The founding Trustees brought together a broad range of expertise in conservation and science and laid the foundation of what still exists today and established a philosophy and kaupapa of restoration, conservation and education.
In 1974 the Ngā Manu charitable trust was established. Development of the nature reserve began in 1978 and the present Visitor Centre opened its doors to the public in 1981. Today, visitors are invited to roam the 14-hectare reserve, cared for by a small team of employees and a large band of volunteers.
To visit is to witness one of the largest remnants of coastal lowland swamp forest on the Kāpiti Coast, and see a whole variety of native fauna and wildlife. In the ancient and regenerating forest, you can see puketea, rimu, swamp maire and kahikatea - some of which are 400 years old.
When it comes to the curious creatures, the reserve works with DOC and others in breed-for-release programmes designed to boost populations of at-risk species. This includes kiwi, whio, pateke, kāka, parakeet, tuatara and Whitaker’s skinks, all of which can be seen on the grounds in walk-in aviaries and in various enclosures.
Had a great morning exploring the reserve and attending the feeding tour. Highly recommend! We got to hang out with a kāka, see a kiwi running around and [watch] a kea solve puzzles.
Amber, Tripadvisor review, January 2021
Ngā Manu is ideal for families and children, school groups or standalone events. The path that weaves through is easily accessible, mostly flat and can be completed in about 30 minutes. Along the way, you’ll find many grassy areas perfect for picnics, as well as engaging and informative signs. To stand atop the lookout tower is to feast your eyes on the array of ponds and man-made islands, open lawns, intimate clearings, original forest, wetlands and more.
You can also join in with the daily eel feeding with a public talk, or book in a Kiwi Night Experience or Ranger for the Day. The Ranger for the Day offers the opportunity to work alongside the staff and learn more about what goes into day-to-day operations, including up-close encounters with native species, while on the Kiwi Night Experience you can view kiwi as they explore, feed and interact with one another. The chance to get this close to our national icon is a unique and special opportunity.