The “behind the scenes” Tuatara Encounter at the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef, West Coast of New Zealand, is a fascinating exclusive tour. Here you can view up-close the prehistoric tuatara that is endemic only to New Zealand.
Here you can view up-close the prehistoric tuatara that is endemic only to New Zealand.
Incredibly 230 million years ago when the first dinosaurs arrived on the scene the ancestors of the tuatara were still roaming the planet and thought to be at least 2m tall.
Tuatara have very special significance to Maori and are named for their appearance.” Tara” means spiny and “tua” meaning back. The tuatara living here at the West Coast Wildlife Centre were translocated to Franz Josef by Nelson based iwi Ngati Koata who have the largest tuatara population in the world.
Tuatara were once feared by the Maori, as they signified messengers of (Whio) god of death and disaster.) Today tuatara are regarded as taonga (treasure) and as the Kaitaiki (guardian) of the trails to the realms of the mind and spirit that give humans life.
Tuatara can live to over 100 years of age and became extinct on the mainland of New Zealand last century. Today they live mainly on offshore islands around New Zealand with around 50,000 to 60,000 live on Stephens Island(Takaporaewa) in the Marlborough Sounds.
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