Hutt ValleySee & Do
A family with a young child play with piglets on the grass at Staglands.

Staglands Wildlife Reserve

Staglands Wildlife Reserve, nestled in the Hutt Valley’s beautiful Akatarawa Valley, offers a rare opportunity to interact with the local fauna on its own terms. Here, 10 hectares of bush, farmland, and wetlands have been sensitively cultivated into an idyllic home for some of New Zealand’s endangered species. This natural and genuine experience blends tourism, conservation, and education into a great experience for all.

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

A family with a young child walk along the path with a piglet in front of them at Staglands.

The reserve began half a century ago when conservationist and wildlife-lover John Simister realised his childhood dream. He created a place to protect birds and animals to allow them to live freely in their natural habitat. His goal was to create an environment that would be hard to tell had been created by human hands. Much of that dream has been achieved.

Today Staglands has a range of different environments, both natural and human-made, that cater for animals and human visitors. There’s much to take in and discover, so it’s best to set aside a few hours. You can experience forest wetlands, trout and eel pools, aviaries, stables, open hillsides for deer, and a magical secret garden. There’s even a nostalgic recreation of an abandoned pioneering village and railway deep in the forest. There are feeding tours, tractor and trailer rides, and a café to relax in afterwards.

The reserve’s conservation efforts centre around the preservation of native species. You’ll likely see a native bird or two during a visit. Look out for whio, kea, pāteke, scaup, and grey teal among others. Rare animal breeds such as Kunekune, Auckland Island pigs, and Arapawa Island goats also make their home in the reserve. Staglands plants several thousand native plants and ferns each year and carry out captive breeding programmes for native birds in partnership with the Department of Conservation.