About Staglands | The First Forty years

How far can one man’s vision go?


Let us start from the beginning with Staglands’ founder, John Simister, chronicling how it all began. Read about this man’s amazing journey to achieve a vision conceived in England and born in New Zealand.



Staglands’ history is intertwined with this man and his vision – in his book, he mentions:
I believe that if people could be guaranteed the opportunity to see a variety of animals and birds in a beautiful natural setting… they would be bowled over by the experience.



This is his story and how Staglands is now, because of the work that he, and all the people working at Staglands have put in through The First Forty Years [PDF].




“…it is that attention to detail and doing it to the very best of our ability that I think is so important and what makes Staglands, ‘Staglands’, Each area needs to be fun and interestingly different from, yet complementary, to the others; the paths and views encouraging and drawing you into another encounter, rather than, say, a fenced concrete path dictating the way you go.

We want everything we do to support and promote our vision, which is ‘to inspire a love of wildlife, the need to protect our natural environment, and to enhance our visitor’s experience.”
- Simister, 2012


Community Involvement

Community involvement has been Staglands’ backbone for over forty years. Staglands started with the support and assistance of its neighbours and has never stopped seeking ways to give back.


We support our local community. We provide employment to more than 20 team members, many of whom are local, in both full time, part-time and casual capacities. We give away Staglander passes to our Upper Valley Akatarawa residents as we believe they are our best ambassadors to help promote Staglands and its vision. We source from local suppliers wherever possible and have built strong relationships with local retailers such as Upper Hutt Produce.


We offer equipment and facilities that support the health and safety of the public. Staglands is a local Community Emergency Hub, where the local community can seek for immediate support in an emergency. We have a defibrillator onsite that the public can use, when the need arises.


We support the wider community including schools, organisations and individuals with varying advocacies. In 2018, we gave away 400 vouchers, valued over $22,000 to support these groups’ causes. We also offer reduced rate entry for schools, preschools and special needs groups and provide free entry for those in wheelchairs.


This year, Staglands supported a Topp Twins Exhibition hosted by the Expressions Whirinaki. Staglands also accommodates independent photographers and filmmakers with their photoshoot and film location requirements.


Staglands is actively involved with the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Upper Hutt City Council, Wellington region i-Sites, and the WellingtonNZ team. We are one of the founding members of the International Marketing Group. Our Park Manager, Aaron La Roche, is the President of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand and one of our owners, John Simister, is a lifetime member of the New Zealand Kunekune Association due to the work he did to save the breed.
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