One of our final bucket list things to do in New Zealand was to spot a real-life actual kiwi!
Kiwis are the national icon of New Zealand, as well as what we call New Zealanders and that delicious hairy green fruit. Kiwis (the birds) are an important cultural symbol to New Zealand although they are incredibly hard to spot, being nocturnal creatures, and they're considered vulnerable due to declining numbers.
With a few weeks left to go in the country, we paid a visit to the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre just outside Mount Bruce to see a kiwi in real life. Now, the kiwi living at Pūkaha is much more than just your average every-day kiwi. Her name is Manukara and she is the world's only white kiwi. She's a rare beauty who is essentially a ball of pure white fluff thanks to the recessive genes both her brown kiwi parents carried.
Aside from the exquisite kiwi, we also visited the many endangered birds in Pūkaha's aviaries. Pūkaha is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of endangered birds, with their ultimate goal to release these birds and increase their populations across New Zealand.
Pūkaha is home to tīeke (North Island saddleback), kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet), kōkako, kākā, titipounamu (rifleman), kārearea (New Zealand falcon) and the kererū (wood pigeon) among other beautiful birds. There's also a significant population of wild eels in the river!