Ecosanctuary now has a little moa for families

Niamh White (2, left) and Mica Nye (3) were first on a carved moa when the Orokonui Ecosanctuary opened its nature play area yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Niamh White (2, left) and Mica Nye (3) were first on a carved moa when the Orokonui Ecosanctuary opened its nature play area yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Delighted youngsters swooped down a bright yellow slide and sat on a big wooden moa sculpture when the Orokonui Ecosanctuary opened its children's nature play area yesterday.

''It's a bumpy slide,'' one youngster excitedly called out, and ran away, keen for another turn.

The 140sqm play area, near the visitor centre, also offers much more than moas and slides, including a small stream.

Other attractions include a bird's nest and a child-sized tracking tunnel - used for spotting the footprints of predators - to say nothing of ''wishing skinks'', native plantings and a picnic table.

About 15 preschoolers were among the most vocally enthusiastic of the 50 people at the opening.

Ecosanctuary general manager Chris Baillie said the play area had been created to ''encourage play in the outdoors and enhance children's experience of nature and conservation''.

The ecosanctuary's education programme for early childhood and primary school groups would also use it.

Providing another attraction, for families, would also help the sanctuary's ''financial viability''.

Many hours of voluntary labour, led by local resident Paul Clements, had complemented the funds given by many supporters, to meet the $20,000 project cost, she said.

These supporters included The Stout Trust, Community Trust of Otago, The Lion Foundation, Bendigo Valley Trust, Rigs for Kids, the Dunedin Amenities Society and the South Dunedin Blokes' Shed.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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