Staglands History

Staglands Wildlife Reserve was established by John Simister in 1972 in the beautiful Akatarawa Valley near Wellington. John grew up in rural England and as a boy loved to be alone in the woods and fells, watching animal and birdlife. He shrivelled in cities and yearned for wide open sky and a world where birds and animals lived freely in their natural habitat. The Reserve had its beginnings in this childhood and a life in his dreams long before it became a wildlife park. Its creation involved the steady and meticulous re-cycling and sculpting of 25 acres of bush, farmland and water and thousands of tonnes of clay into an idyllic natural home for unusual, iconic and endangered species. John was uncompromising in his attention to the smallest detail and relentless in his pursuit of illustrating nature, its properties and effects.

That detail is the essence of Staglands and Johns skill in creating a world that no one knows has been created, is a rare one indeed.  Since it's inception, John has worked tirelessly alongside his partner, Sarah and their committed team to ensure Staglands enduring appeal.

To commemorate Stagland's 40th Anniversary year John, wrote a book 'Staglands The first forty years' which details, amongst other things, the inspiration behind, and trials and tribulations of, developing the Reserve as we know it today. You can purchase this fascinating story directly from us for $12.95 including P&P.

Click here to purchase online!

If you’re interested in conservation, click here to read more about how the Staglands works with the Department of Conservation and other organisations to help protect out natural heritage. We have created a wonderful wildlife sanctuary and invite you to share it with us

Our unique wildlife park provides a great family activity close to Wellington and is a relaxing alternative to the Wellington Zoo!

A final word from John Simister, founder and owner of Staglands…

"It is my belief that an enormously rewarding and lifelong appreciation of wildlife can be kindled by a brief, intense encounter with an animal or a bird. Ideally this will be in the wilds of our beautiful bush, maybe on a farm or even at home with grandma's budgie. Few children or adults have such an opportunity nowadays.

Staglands is my attempt to provide that encounter in an environment that is as good as I can possibly make it.

Native animals, birds and plants need our help. Many are unlikely to survive without our willingness to provide huge on-going funding in the form of donations, taxes and physical effort. That willingness to provide help, I believe, is more likely if an interest has been kindled by an enjoyable, first-hand experience, as can be obtained at Staglands."

John Simister




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