Owlcatraz well worth a gander
The small Horowhenua town of Shannon has about 1500 inhabitants and a wildlife park called Owlcatraz.
The Native Bird and Wildlife Park is marking its 20th anniversary in 2017 and park founder Janette Campbell said they were looking forward to celebrating with visitors all year long.
‘‘We will run promotions all year. My husband Ross and I built the park so it is a really big deal for us .
‘‘We are closed over Christmas but reopen on December 27 and are open every day until the end of January.’’
Ross and Janette are proud of their role as conservationists.
‘‘We are one of the only parks that are permitted to breed morepork (ruru) and one of the few places that successfully breed weka.’’
The park offers people ‘‘fact, fantasy and fun’’ according to Janette and is well worth taking time out of a travel itinerary to stop in for a look.
The Campbells had a harrowing time of things in 2008 when a severe storm almost forced them out of business with the park having to close for 63 days.
They would probably not have been able to reopen if not for the kindness of people throughout the Horowhenua and Kapiti.
‘‘People we didn’t even know came to help with the clean up. We’re very grateful. The fact we survived was a miracle,’’ Janette said.
Guides will explain the legends of the morepork and visitors can feel the breeze as the bird nicknamed the ‘‘priest of the forest’’ glides by with its 100 per cent soundless flight.
The park also holds man-made caves that take in a half hour subterranean walk featuring native glow worms. Visitors to the park have described the glow worm caves as ‘‘stunning’’.
The farm area has alpaca, ostrich deer and donkey as well as what the Campbells think is an extremely well mannered pig.
Morepork are revered by Maori and known as ruru. Historically they were never eaten out of respect. Weka have been successfully bred at the park as well.