Pukaha Mt Bruce is the second largest tourism destination in the Tararua and a new walk-in, free flight aviary will attract more visitors, two Tararua District councillors say.
"Ratepayers in the Tararua District contribute to this tourism landmark, which, while enhancing our position as a destination in New Zealand, is a definite gem in our crown," councillor Shirley Hull told the Dannevirke News.
"As Tararua District Council's representative to Pukaha Mt Bruce it felt very emotional and special to be part of this incredible local development for Tararua."
Last Friday the Minister for Conservation Maggie Barry opened the free flight aviary in front of more than 120 invited guests to the very noisy accompaniment of the resident korimako.
More than three years in the making from concept to the final build, the million dollar, 40 x 20-metre aviary is now open to the public. Visitors can walk through the aviary and come face-to-face with native birds such as kaka, kakariki and korimako and breeding pairs of whio and pateke.
Eketahuna-based district councillor Tracey Collis said her town has built a close connection with Pukaha Mt Bruce.
"We're looking forward to mutually benefiting from the additional visitors to the new aviary, as Eketahuna's town upgrade nears completion," she said.
"The opening of the walk-in, free flight aviary coincides very well with the re-homing of Eketahuna's Kiwi and enhances the fact you are entering Real Kiwi Country before heading to Pukaha."
Mrs Collis said Pukaha Mt Bruce is one of the contributing factors to the large number of tourists staying at the award winning Eketahuna Camping Ground, which topped all camp grounds in Tararua with 536 stays last month.
"Tararua District Council contributes $10,000 a year towards Pukaha and receives real value from this funding.
"This is clearly visible in the high numbers of national and international visitors recorded at the Eketahuna Information Centre.
"We know they are travelling through the district and the key to economic development is to encourage them to experience all Tararua has to offer."
There is no extra cost above normal admission prices to visit the free flight aviary and a ranger talk will be held daily in the aviary at 4pm.