Each day at 1.30pm, long fin eels gather under the bridge at Pukaha Mount Bruce. They have grown used to being fed at this time and gather in a mass with some brown trout who also share their stream.
A purpose built bridge over the stream gives a great view directly down into the water. The Visitor Experience staff pop on a pair of waders and there's a spare pair as well for any visitor brave enough to enter the water too.
The eels surge up to the staff and will take the food off the spoons although most are happier to take the food in the water. It's usually bacon and bread scraps from the onsite cafe but occaisionally there's a mouse which has been caught in the traps around the reserve too which the eels love - the smellier the better for them.
The Visitor experience staff talk about the eels and their habits - the most amazing being that they swim all the way to Tonga to breed - and then die. But they are extremely long lived and judging by the size of our eels at Pukaha, have a well fed life before their long swim.
Entry to Pukaha Mount Bruce is $20 per adult, $6 per child 5-15 years and $50 for a family pass (2 adults and up to 4 children). Under 5's are free.
Pukaha Mount Bruce is open daily 9am - 4.30pm (every day except Christmas Day)
Sometimes, particularly during the school holidays, local author Viv Walker will read her book, The Eels of Anzac Bridge - these are the same eels whose parents may well have been under the bridge during WW1 too.
Home to the only white kiwi bird in captivity, Pukaha National Wildlife Centre is a wildlife centre set in 942- hectares of native forest. Witness conservation in action on a tour to learn about captive breeding of kiwi, kākā, pāteke, whio and more.