A Greytown schoolboy has re-discovered at Pukaha Mt Bruce a little-known nocturnal creature known as a velvet worm that was last sighted at the national wildlife centre about 15 years ago.
Greytown School pupil James Moreland found the peripatus or velvet worm, also known as a walking worm, at a BioBlitz event at the Wairarapa centre last weekend.
The event aimed to find, identify and record all the different kinds of plants, fungi, animals, invertebrates and other living creatures present in a specific search area, in this case a one square kilometre area of the Pukaha Forest.
About 85 students joined the search on Friday, and they were given a helping hand through the reserve by the Bug Man, Ruud Kleinpaste, and the Department of Conservation's Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki.
One of the highlights was a discovery made by Year 6 Greytown School student James Moreland, who found a peripatus, or "velvet worm", which have not been seen at Pukaha for 15 years.
On Friday night, Mr Kleinpaste and Ms Toki hosted an evening talk, "Our Wonderful Wildlife", followed by a night walk and exploration of the Pukaha Reserve with more than 50 guests.
Saturday involved community volunteers, some as young as 4, joining scientists from Massey University, Victoria University and the Department of Conservation in finding and identifying species found in the forest.
During a "Kids BioBlitz" in the afternoon, children found a Wellington green gecko, cave weta, giraffe weevils and an assortment of stick insects.
"We were absolutely delighted with the turnout from the community to join us in our BioBlitz," said Pukaha Mount Bruce general manager, Helen Tickner.
"It was brilliant to see both Ruud and Nicola engaging with everyone who attended and their enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious.
"We're calling this event a complete success and are looking forward to receiving the completed species list from the scientists in due course," Ms Tickner said.