Disclaimer: This content is not sponsored in any way by Nga Manu Nature Reserve.
‘Majestic’. That was my first thought upon seeing the stunning views from the lookout at Nga Manu. Nga Manu Nature Reserve in Waikanae is exactly what it claims to be; a nature reserve. Home to many native plant species as well as native animal species, it is a great day out, not only for kids but also for teens and adults.
I attended Nga Manu on the 30th of December 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. I particularly liked being able to walk through the kākā enclosure and the feeling of being part of the surroundings, rather than just the usual observation at most reserves. I also saw a couple of kiwi, red admiral butterflies and a morepork.
Deep in the heart of the 14 hectare reserve lies a lookout, accessible only via a bushwalk. With the breeze on your face and the sun on your back, the views are nothing but beautiful and create a feeling of being a small part of the world. It made me almost feel insignificant, a small part of something truly great as I gazed into the magical abyss of greenery and peacefulness.
Picnicking is welcomed, with there being barbeques and tables available, as well as abundant rubbish bins in order to eliminate litter.
Nothing is perfect however and there were two things that I didn’t particularly like, the first of which was the eel feeding. The eels I found to be fascinating, however they were fed with day old male chicks. Fortunately they were not live, however it did make me uncomfortable (probably because of my pet chickens) as it reminded me of the horrors that take place in the egg industry. I understand that the eels need to eat but I did not feel comfortable watching the feeding session. Just a personal view and many people did not seem fased by it.
The other aspect that I wasn’t overly keen on was the sheer volume of noise produced by the young children who were also visiting the sanctuary. Again this is just a personal view and not really a problem. In fact, despite the initial irritability it caused, I actually found this inspiring as it is lovely to see and hear children enjoying themselves. The ability to run around and be fascinated by the creatures in the reserve shows that Nga Manu encompasses exactly what I love about New Zealand culture; the ability to be active and ‘hands-on’, freedom of speech and encouragement of questioning and creativity.
The highlight of the trip for me were the skinks as I particularly like lizards.
The reserve does charge entry fees, however I find these to be very reasonable, especially considering the many attractions there. Adult entry is $18, child (5-15yrs) entry is $8, (tertiary) student entry is $10, as is the senior citizen entry and children under the age of five years enter the reserve free of charge. An extra dollar buys you an eel feeding experience and an extra two dollars buys you a bag of duck food.
The selection in the gift shop is also good and of course I bought The guide to New Zealand’s Native Plants, books 1 and 2. The typical tourist gifts are available too, not to mention the selection of ice creams. As a vegan, it is usually difficult to find a suitable ice lolly but I treated myself to a delicious (and rather large) pear and feijoa sorbet.
All in all, I would highly recommend Nga Manu Nature Reserve, it is well worth a visit if you are in the area and it is even worth a drive out to just to see it. If you are far away, a cottage is available for overnight stays, but of course you need to contact Nga Manu beforehand.