Six fluffy blue ducklings will take their first outing, to an outside pool, for the first time this afternoon.
The little whio ducklings from Orana Wildlife Park are only 15 days old and are the first clutch of blue ducks to be reared at the park in eight years.
Head keeper of native fauna Alyssa Salton said it was great to have whio ducklings back at the park again.
"They are very active little animals and are growing quickly," she said.
In captivity, whio eggs are artificially incubated and then reared by staff in preparation for their eventual release to the wild, she said.
"This is important for a species classified as nationally vulnerable by the Department of Conservation with a wild population numbering only 2000 to 3000."
The ducklings, which are not on public display, will soon be transferred to Peacock Springs, Christchurch, along with all captive-bred whio ducklings from all over the country.
There they will hone their hunting skills before being released into the wild.
"Whio are like white-water rafters as they live in fast-flowing waterways. Essentially the ducklings go to swim school to ensure they can master the rapids in the wild," said Ms Salton.
The park is also celebrating the recent hatching of a kiwi chick, with another on the way, as well as the imminent arrival of native pateke, or brown teal, ducklings.