Hatching a birthday plan


Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park may be celebrating its big 3-0 this month, but it’s still just business as usual, boss Paul Wilson says.

He went on a roadie this week to pick up an injured tui from Invercargill. The native bird, which has hurt its wing, will be nursed back to health at the park - it’s one of about 30 a year the park looks after.

“Some of them we keep in captivity as they wouldn’t survive in the wild again. They become part of the family and we use them for educational purposes.”

Wilson - who opened the park with his dad - says he’s pretty chuffed to reach the birthday milestone.

In the 1980s the family owned a garage on Frankton Road, near where McDonald’s is today.

Visitors came in regularly asking if there was anywhere in town they could see a real-life kiwi.

“That is how it all started - and the rest is history.”

Wilson says while the park has grown, the focus on conservation has been constant.

He has a passion for New Zealand wildlife and worries the message isn’t getting out to future generations.

“There are a lot of environmental issues out there.

“Even look at Queenstown - the amount of rubbish around here is terrible.

“We want people to think about the impact they have on wildlife.

“I mean, it wouldn’t be NZ without any kiwi but we have to look after all our native species.”

The park currently has four kiwis in residence and has just welcomed its first Antipodes Island parakeet.

It was hatched in the park as part of a captive-insurance programme aiming to prevent native birds from becoming extinct.

“We always have something going on.

“Yeah, we are excited to reach our big birthday, but we still have to get on with the day job.”

Kiwi Birdlife Park will mark the occasion on January 28 with a bit of a party, Wilson says.