Wanaka Willows Wildlife

At Wanaka Willows we look out for our local wildlife, and encourage native species to make a home here too. From planting wild flowers to keep our wild bees happy and healthy, to encouraging native birds by keeping our property pest free, we believe a healthy eco system incorporates our wild life instead of excluding it. Below are just a few examples of the wildlife we see here.

Sacred Kingfisher

The sacred kingfisher is one of the best known birds in New Zealand due to the iconic photographs published over many years by Geoff Moon. These early images showed in detail the prey, the foraging skills and the development of chicks in the nest and as fledgings. Equally recognisable is the hunched silhouette waiting patiently on a powerline or other elevated perch over an estuary or mudflat which converts in a flash to a streak of green diving steeply to catch a prey item.

Kingfishers are found widely in New Zealand in a wide range of habitats: the key ingredients are elevated observation posts to hunt from, banks or suitable standing trees to excavate nests in, and open or semi-open habitats which support a range of prey items.

Brown Quail

The brown quail was introduced to Auckland, Wellington, Otago and Southland during 1866-80, but is currently restricted to the northern North Island and its offshore islands. Along with failed releases of other quail species from Australia at the same time, it is possible that these releases contributed to the extinction of the endemic New Zealand quail through the introduction of new diseases. Tiritiri Matangi Island and Shakespear and Tawharanui Regional Parks are the most accessible places in New Zealand where brown quail are reliably found.


The duck is a number of species in the Anatidae family of birds. They are related to swans and geese. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds living in both fresh water and sea water and found on every continent except for Antarctica. A male duck is called a drake, a female duck a hen, and a baby duck a duckling. We often see ducks in the creek, pond and various puddles that spring up after heavy rain!

Natural Bee Hive

Honey bees used to use caves, rock cavities and hollow trees as natural nesting sites, before man came along and started  farming them. 

We leave our bees alone in their hollow in one of the willow trees. Because the tree is a living organism it stays at around 22 C, helping the bees to stay warm.

We leave them alone to be free and happy and they continue to pollinate our crops.

Eels in your community

Wild eels can be hard to spot, so many wildlife parks and zoos have ‘tame’ eels you can get up close to and sometimes even feed. It’s a great way to educate the whole family about how special and unique New Zealand’s freshwater eels are. 

Ensuring that the New Zealand longfin is still around in the future would be a great gift to offer the next generation. 

Did you know? New Zealand freshwater eels can live up to 100 years and breed only once at the end of their lives. In order to breed, they undergo mass spawning migrations, leaving the familiarity of lakes and rivers to swim all the way up to the subtropical Pacific Ocean, where they spawn en masse in very deep water.