Wednesday 17 August 2022


Thank you again for the awesome spread in the SST, as well as the article online. We had a really busy day at BFC, which we can definitely attribute to the exposure. 

It's rare to get feedback in my job - for me, anyway. You get sent somewhere, have the experience, write up the notes and then the story, edit the photos, send it all off, wait for publication, and then wait some more for payment. And meanwhile you're on to the next thing. It's always good to see the story in print, but it's really rare to get any response to it, other than an occasional bit of nit-picking in the comments online from people who have nothing better to do.

So it was a delight to get the above email from the Marketing Manager at the focus of my last story, and know that people not only read the story, but were inspired by it to visit the location.

I'm also pleased, because I know they'll have a good time. I certainly did. Butterfly Creek, out near Auckland Airport, has been there for almost 20 years, but it was ages since I'd last visited, so I was happy to go again. I was even happier to see it's got bigger and better since then - it's a kind of hands-on zoo-cum-amusement park, and heavily into conservation. It's not huge, but that means it's easy to get up close to the animals they do have, and I got to have some special encounters.

I poked bits of shrimp and octopus through wire to five very eager and cute little otters, put food down for three hungry meercats in their very artistically decorated enclosure, gave boiled chicken bits and squirmy moth larvae to two tiny cotton-top tamarins, and got sneered at by a very superior - but genuinely magnificent - green iguana. I loved it all, going behind the scenes and getting so close. 

I was fascinated to study the giant weta, and even the tarantula was genuinely magnificent, though non-keepers aren't trusted to hold them, because of unpredictable reactions on the visitor's part - fair enough. I wouldn't be able to guarantee not suddenly jerking in reaction, and dropping the spider. I did touch her, though, which was a first (the only other tarantula I've got close to was a stray one that turned up on the spare bed in my room at a sheep station in South Australia, which my host's daughter turned into a large smear on the bedspread before I even had a proper look at it, thus depriving me of years of detailed nightmares).

"You won't be feeding the crocodile," they told me, and again, there was no disappointment on my part. Perfectly happy to watch from a distance as Goldie leapt up half out of the water to chomp down on a dangled fish frame.
I spent ages at Butterfly Creek, enjoying the animals and trying to get a good shot of a huge blue morpho butterfly. They import the chrysalises regularly from the Philippines and Costa Rice, and I saw them carefully unpacking a shipment and hanging each chrysalis from racks in an incubator. The staff were all friendly, and very dedicated - plus, Paul had an excellent line in quotable quotes, which I appreciated and exploited. "He looks at you like you're worm spit, eh?" was my favourite, about the disdainful Diego, the iguana.
There's easily a dayful of fun to be had at Butterfly Creek, including huge noisy dinosaurs, ponies to pat, wild eels to observe, invisible kiwi to try to spot in the dark, and highly-recommended egg sandwiches to eat. Go, if you can. You won't regret it.

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