Fattening them up then sending them on their way has been Ngā Manu Nature Reserve's role in combined efforts to establish a population of Wellington green geckos on Mana Island.
Receiving 17 of the rare barking geckos from Zealandia in August last year, eight of the geckos will be released on to the predator-free island tomorrow.
The geckos, also known as moko kākariki or barking geckos, have been part of a breed for release programme and have gone through the care of Zealandia before heading to Ngā Manu in Waikanae, the first step on their journey to becoming wild again.
"Thousands of visitors were able to encounter these incredible animals up-close while they lived at Zealandia," Zealandia's centre for people and nature director Dr Danielle Shanahan said.
"It's wonderful they can now complete their journey and become part of the conservation of the species in the wild."
Department of Conservation biodiversity senior ranger Brent Tandy said, "We're keen to see a population of green geckos established on Mana".
"They are having a soft release into a fenced off area as they could be vulnerable heading straight out into the wild," Ngā Manu operation staff member Dave Banks said.
"The fear is if they were released without that they would just go off into the four corners of the earth and we would never see them again.
"They are interesting animals because they can travel quite quickly.
"You don't often see them moving but they can if they want."
Inheriting the animals and the infrastructure to house them from Zealandia, the remaining animals will become the breeding population for Ngā Manu and will slowly be released to Mana Island over the next few years.
"They will become the breeding population for us.
"The whole process is about building up a base of decent adults that have good genetics from different sources.
"We've been working on ensuring they have been getting plenty of food and have been on display for the public to see.
"At three years old, they will be able to fend for themselves and start breeding so that's a good time to shift them on until Mana has got so many geckos over there they don't know what to do."
Barking geckos are members of the Gekkonidae family, the biggest family of geckos.
They are called the barking gecko because they make a croaky barking noise when threatened.
There will be more on display at Ngā Manu for those wishing to see them after the first eight have been released onto Mana Island.