Imagine the experience of playing golf on a world class championship course, immersed in the natural beauty of a wildlife sanctuary. The ambitious project is the brainchild of owner Gary Lane and has seen a dedicated five kilometre ‘Xcluder’ fence installed around the entire course perimeter. The fence stands more than 2 metres tall and has been specially designed to keep out predators like rats, mice, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, feral cats and possums.
Around 25,000 native trees and five thousand exotics have been planted to encourage bird life and further improve the park like surroundings. Mixed colour pheasants, guinea fowl, pekin ducks and fallow deer have also been released on to the property.
In 2012, an agreement was established between Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary and the Department of Conservation to work cooperatively together to make the most of conservation and restoration opportunities within the sanctuary. That includes using the predator free environment as a crèche for kiwi chicks, a safe place for them to "find their feet" and grow. Wairakei has been home to many kiwi chicks since.
Since 2015, Wairakei has been home to retired takahē. For the takahē, the Wairakei retirement opportunity is an escape from competition while clearing vital breeding space for younger takahē pairs on their pest-free home bases. Over the years some of the takahē at Wairakei have come out of retirement and have produced healthy chicks. Once they’ve grown, these chicks are moved back to the founding population in Murchison. As at December 2023 we have 15 happy adult takahē and 5 chicks loving the sanctuary we provide.
There are also two kārearea (New Zealand falcon) that return annually to nest, they've had numerous chicks and enjoy making the most of the predator free environment for raising their young.
In 2019 we welcomed the Gallagher Kiwi Burrow (formerly known as Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow), a dedicated kiwi incubation, hatching and brooding centre. This facility is managed by Save the kiwi and unfortunately not open for the public, but keep an eye on our facebook page here for updates.