Owl­ca­traz well worth a gan­der

The Tribune (NZ) - - SUMMER-NATURE VISIT - ILLYA MCLELLAN

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.

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DAVID UN­WIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

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.

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