On our way back to the city, we stopped at the Native Bird Recovery Centre where they treat and rehabilitate injured birds of all kinds before being released back into the wild. The centre has been in operation for many years, and you can see it is because of their deep love for animals.
Many people come to New Zealand hoping to see a live kiwi but leave disappointed. The kiwi bird is a shy, nocturnal creature and it’s rare to see one out in the wild. The only other option is usually to pay for a night tour or see one in captivity. We were able to see a kiwi up close and personal at the Centre. He was a rescue bird and only had one leg as one leg was amputated due to injury. We were able to pet his soft feathers and really see what a kiwi looked like in the light of day.
Not only were we lucky to pet a kiwi, but this particular kiwi was a famous one at that. This kiwi is flown all over New Zealand to educate the public. He visits schools, special functions, news rooms and fundraisers. He is completely used to being around people and, according to the Centre’s owners, he will never leave of his own volition. He believes he’s one of the family.
Another cool native bird we saw was the tui. Although we could only see it from within its cage, we were told that his vocal abilities were spectacular. All tuis can make hundreds of sounds, and humans can only hear a small percentage of them. They can mimic things, even human speech if taught to do so.
One of the most amazing birds we saw was an injured falcon-like bird. I’m not exactly sure what species it was (a falcon, kite, hawk, etc), but he was currently recuperating nicely after being hit by a car. Many of these birds scavenge food from road kill and sometimes neglect to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. This puts them at risk of becoming road kill themselves. This bird was such an amazing animal, especially when one of his wings opened to show individual finger-like feathers. Had he been able to open up both wings, his wingspan would have been at least 5 feet wide.
Before leaving the Centre, I decided to leave a small donation in the collection box. This was the type of organization that I felt compelled to support in some small way. Organizations like this one really do make the world a better place just by doing what their hearts implore them to do. They are also the ones that need the most financial and physical support as there is always so much to do and so little money and people to do it.
After leaving the Centre, we finally pulled into Auckland around 6 pm. I had a great time up north and couldn’t wait to see more of Aotearoa (New Zealand). I had a feeling that the next month or two would be one amazing adventure after the other.