Wallabies, Golden Possums and More

Kelcey's Bush is known for its animal park with over 23 species one can meet and greet while staying there. If in December visit the Strawberry Festival.

Kelceys Farmyard Animal Holiday Park

Paula and I have enjoyed staying at many wonderful holiday parks around New Zealand during our travels resulting in a lot of strange and wonderful adventures. This was the first time we were greeted at the door of the reception by a magnificent Golden Pheasant that, after we settled in, came by for a hand-out. Because of his brightly coloured plumage and resplendent neck cape the camp owner, Keith McIvor, aptly named him Elvis.

There are 23 different species Keith & Joy McIvor have in their Animal Park adjacent to the Holiday Park. The animal park also is highlighted by wallabies and a rare breeding pair of golden possums.

Besides being able to casually stroll through the park where the animals reside everyone is invited to join Keith for morning and afternoon feeding times. You can readily see the affection between the animals and Keith. Each has its own name and responds readily to the visit. Another highlight is the “Night Safari” Keith organises. it is a low level nightly tramping session into the surrounding bush to spotlight the possums and wild wallabies during their nocturnal prowling.

Kelceys Bush Holiday Park is located on Mill Road seven kilometers west of the township of Waimate a community that offers a real collection of historic buildings some dating back to the late 1800’s plus an Edwardian theme for the shopping area. The Waimate District is known as the “Centre of the South” located halfway between Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The early history of the area indicates saw-milling was the major industry. A devastating fire in 1878 burned for eight days and swept across the region consuming the five saw-mills and seventy cottages. The only bush left was at what is now known as Bush Point and Kelceys Bush.

Another interesting business, started in 1883, was the cultivation of strawberries. It is still a large part of the local economy with the epitome, for the strawberry lover, at the famous Strawberry Fare every December. One of the best reasons I can think of to visit the area.
Who can resist fresh picked strawberries in a dish of cream.

The Kelceys Bush Farmyard Holiday Park was established in 1996 by Keith and Joy after Keith left his job as Regional Pest Control Officer and Joy leaving her teaching position in Timaru in 2005 to devote full time to the park. A beautiful rural setting surrounds this modern facility that contains tourist flats, cabins, twenty power sites and ten camp sites along with a well maintained and pleasant ablutions block, laundry, fully equipped kitchen and dining area, BBQ centre plus a lounge and TV. Plenty of room in the park for enjoying the outdoors. The reception area offers the essentials and is open from 8am to 9pm with extended hours in the summer season.

In today’s world of rush and confusion and the overdone complexity of so many holiday parks where you and your neighbour can shake hands out the window we found the peace and quiet of Kelceys Bush snuggled into the hill clad bush a pure delight. Paula and I both love animals and truly enjoyed getting up close and personal with the ones who call the animal park home. I had always noticed the sign on the barn located out on Route One showing the “wallaby place” they called Waimate. We finally took that short drive out to Kelceys Bush and had a most enjoyable time. Plans are to make it a place we will frequent quite often on our treks south especially in December when the strawberries are ripe.

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