A Russell campground has been named New Zealand's top predator-free accommodation in the Holiday Parks Association awards.

The owners of Russell Orongo Bay Holiday Park, James and Tori Burns, said they were "'proud and excited" to win the award, which was presented during the association's annual conference at Te Papa in Wellington last week.

The award is sponsored by the Predator Free New Zealand Trust and is only in its second year.

The Burns family only bought the holiday park in May last year so said some of the credit had to go to the previous owners who had spent 30 years planting the property to make it an attractive habitat for wildlife.


They also credited the local company which carries out predator trapping in the 6ha holiday park, Land and Habitat.

Since buying the park Mrs Burns said they had continued the previous owners' work and worked hard to enhance the customer experience, but bringing wildlife "more into people's faces".

The park is home to North Island brown kiwi, North Island weka, rare pateke ducks and about 50 other species of native birds.

Although originally from the UK, Mrs Burns said they were "very passionate" about New Zealand wildlife.

"It's a very special thing. We want to make sure people have the opportunity to see kiwi and other rare birds. We're very excited to have this award so we can raise awareness of the importance of preserving wildlife and how important Predator Free 2050 is."

Holiday park manager Viki Smith with a rescued brown quail. Photo / Supplied
Holiday park manager Viki Smith with a rescued brown quail. Photo / Supplied

Mrs Burns said many of the park's guests were from overseas but Kiwis dominated at Christmas time.

"Obviously the international visitors are amazed by the birdlife and being able to get so close but the Kiwis really appreciate the rarity. We've had grown men in tears saying, 'I've lived in New Zealand all my life but I'd never seen a kiwi'. We want to raise awareness of what New Zealand can be like again one day."

Dogs are allowed at the park under strict conditions. In December a group with 30 conservation dogs, trained for pest detection, is booked in. The New Zealand Ornithological Society has also stayed with members catching and banding birds to allow them to be tracked.


The Burns are currently based in Auckland where they have a number of other businesses. The park is managed by Viki Smith.