Today – the first day of spring – dawned crisp and clear, so Carter and I decided to venture out to one of our favourite hang-outs: Nga Manu Nature Reserve, just north of Waikanae township, on the Kapiti Coast [click here to view map].

This reserve was established in 1974 – on a 13 hectare block of farmland that had been cleared about a century before. Though there was an area of remnant kahikatea swamp forest on the land, the rest was bare pasture.

Over 36 years, the founder trustees, staff and countless volunteers have worked tirelessly to regenerate the bush both within and around the remnant, and today, this place offers landscapes – such as that above – which can transport the visitor in a time-trip 150 or more years into the past, when much of Kapiti was still covered in wetland forest.

Today, the reserve offers valuable insights into our indigenous natural heritage, but also fun pursuits such as duck-chasing (not recommended, but inevitable!), duck-stroking (the duck purrs! – see right), and chatting with inquisitive kea (below).

A history of Nga Manu nature reserve is currently being written online. Click here to go to the Nga Manu History Project website.

Photo top: Regenerating forest at Nga Manu looking north-east, with the bush-covered Hemi Matenga hills in the background. Above left: “Look, the duck [actually, pukeko] is eating my raisin!” Above right: “This duck purrs when I stroke her!” Bottom left: “You don’t expect me to jump on your hand when you haven’t even bothered bringing any nuts, do you?” (Photos: C. Knight).

See also: A Kapiti environmental history – Nga Manu Nature Reserve