Camp was almost over before it even began for year 6 students from Whanganui East School.

Teacher May Bennett saw threatening clouds hovering above and was preparing to call parents to inform them that the Bushy Park excursion was cancelled.

However, Bennett gambled with the weather and the trip went ahead. Her decision proved to be a good one during the day, but that all changed at night.

"We were just having dinner when it started to pour down and we were in the process of deciding whether we were going to evacuate or not," Bennett said.


"But then Dale, the proprietor of the Bushy Park homestead came across and actually offered us accommodation. He invited us to spend the evening in the billiard room."

After a day spent clearing tracks, studying wetlands, learning about pest eradication and more, the 30 students were treated to a history lesson.

"Dale talked us through the history of the homestead, the history of the building and the family roots behind it. The kids were engaged and asked really good questions.

"Here we were feeling a bit wet and worried, and what was really lovely was that Dale went and lit the fire for us, a big open fire."

Whanganui East School has a long history with Bushy Park, dating back to when ex-principal Robin Paul was there.

Paul left the school in 2012 and does a lot of volunteer work with his wife at the sanctuary located on Rangitatau E Rd, approximately eight kilometres from Kai Iwi.

Dale Pullen became the proprietor of the Bushy Park homestead and its grounds approximately three months ago.

He watched as the weather turned for the worse while the students were having their dinner.

"I thought to myself 'I can't have those kids trying to go to sleep in their wet, soggy tents' so I went up to them and said they were welcome inside," Pullen said.

"They were well organised, they finished their dinner, packed up their sleeping bags and came in. They were really well behaved and a lovely group of people."

Pullen runs the homestead as a bed and breakfast, functions and events centre.

Bushy Park was established in the 1860s by James Moore and James Currie. Their partnership ended in the 1880s and by 1890 the farm was a significant property.

Between 1891 and 1902, most of the Moore family perished, leaving youngest son George Francis (Frank) Maitland Moore as the sole survivor.

Frank Moore commissioned a house which was completed in 1906 and is now the Bushy Park Homestead. He gifted it to Forest and Bird when he passed away in 1962 aged 85.

Pullen said that based on their reactions, the students really enjoyed their time at the homestead.

"It was still like camping out. It was a cold and wet night, so I lit the fire to keep them all cosy," he said.

"It fascinates me how the young ones that are coming through today have a real genuine interest for the preservation of our wildlife."