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West Coast Wildlife Centre - Tuatara Encounter & Backstage Pass Tour

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.

Highlights

  • Entry into the Behind the Scenes Area of the Tuatara Encounter
  • Journey with an experienced Tuatara guide who will share key information
  • Tailor made presentation
  • See the live food we feed Tuatara

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.

Adult $52.00
Child $26.00

Child Friendly

  • This experience welcomes families with children.

Authenticated Reviews & PhotosAll of our reviews are from people who have booked and paid for this activity thru Bookme

Authenticated Reviews & PhotosAll of our reviews are from people who have booked and paid for this activity thru Bookme

4.5

13 reviews

Showing all 13 authenticated Bookme reviews

Amaria Frances Connell from New Zealand wrote on 08 December 2018

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Best experience ever!

I loved this experience! So many facts about Tuatara and was such a special experience to get up so close to them. I would definitely recommend. Staff were great too. As a bonus, you can also see the kiwi (also amazing). You will not regret it!

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Graham from Australia wrote on 27 October 2019

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Graham

The tour was exceptional. Kate our tour host was passionate - she explained the tuatara in detail and answered all our questions in detail. The added bonus was that we were able to see 2 kiwis.

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Leon from New Zealand wrote on 22 April 2019

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Great Tour

Loved the backstage tour, very interesting and informative guide, with fascinating facts about the kiwi and tuatara. Would recommend the backstage tour as without it, the general entry is quite short and does not really warrant its entry fee

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Dipti from Fiji wrote on 23 January 2019

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Not that good

The backstage pass was good. Good explanation and got the opportunity to get so close to a tuatara however that was the one and only good thing about that place. Overall, there wasn't nothing much to see. Would not recommend it. Expensive.

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Iona from New Zealand wrote on 24 November 2019

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Tuatara experience.

Great to see the tuatara up close. Great facts but found the guide a little annoying. Felt like she was nervous and kept doing a funny laugh when there was nothing to laugh at. Wasn't asked/allowed a souvenir photo but the rest of the grope was.

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10:00 a.m.Thursday 13 July

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Qualmark certification

What does Qualmark mean for you?

When you see the Qualmark logo, your activity of choice is endorsed by New Zealand Tourism’s official quality assurance organisation and backed by leaders in the industry. It’s your trusted guide to iconic activities and experiences that are awarded for their exceptionally high level of quality, safety and sustainability.

This activity has a Qualmark Award

This award identifies a business with a high level of professionalism, a keen awareness of the impact it has on the environment and a commitment to a customer centric approach.

This award is evidence of a sophisticated tourism business that consistently exceeds visitor expectations. Their proactive leadership and management ensure the business’s focus on continuously improving their economic, social and environmental performance to create genuine, constantly evolving and sustainable tourism experiences.

This award recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand. It denotes exceptional customer experiences at the heart of everything the company does. This business is leading the way in making the New Zealand tourism industry a world class sustainable visitor destination.

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