Maungatautari Ecological Island Reserve

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari: A wildlife haven that is returning New Zealand's bush and native bird life to what it once was hundreds of years ago...

The wildlife haven of Sanctuary Mountain (Maungatautari Ecological Island Reserve) stands majestically on the landscape in the heart of the Hamilton & Waikato region. The 3,400 hectare reserve allows walkers to discover New Zealand’s native bush and bird-life as it once was hundreds of years ago, in natural, self-sustaining forest surroundings.

Located 40 minutes south of Hamilton and 20 minutes south of Cambridge, Maungatautari provides extra interest for walkers due to the native flora and fauna being released and regenerated in the special predator-free environment. Native birds such as kiwi, takahe, hihi (stitchbird), tieke (saddleback) and kaka have already being introduced, as well as other species such as the kokopu (native fish), forest gecko, Mahoenui giant weta and tuatara. The native species continue to thrive behind the pest-proof fence that surrounds the reserve.

The reserve’s walking tracks are wide and metalled, making them suitable for all weather and walking abilities. The Southern Enclosure is perfect for one to two hour guided or un-guided walks and features a 16 metre high viewing tower 20 minutes into the reserve which provides great views over the forest canopy and the chance to get up close with native birds. A 600-year-old rata tree also inhabits the Southern Enclosure and cheeky kaka are sure to entertain during their scheduled feedings - check Sanctuary Mountain's website for details.

Longer walking tracks also give you the opportunity to explore the whole mountain. The 6 hour hike (7.4km one way) across Mt Maungatautari takes you from Tari Road in the south to Hicks Road in the north (or vice versa), providing amazing views over the surrounding forests and countryside all the way down to Mt Ruapehu.

Guided night tours

Guided night tours are also available as a walk only, or including dinner at nearby Out in the Styx Guesthouse. The popular night tours allow walkers to discover the magical atmosphere of a New Zealand forest at night, with the opportunity to see kokopu (native fish) swimming in the streams, view giant weta clinging to tree trunks and hear the call of the kiwi.

For more information on Sanctuary Mountain visit  

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