Keryn organised an antenatal group catch-up at Staglands, a wildlife reserve north of Upper Hutt. The wildlife are largely farm animals with a few exotic birds and some native species as well. It was a cold morning when we set out and we were all wrapped up in our cosy clothes, Alayna wearing a too-large sweater that had a bonus of long sleeves acting as mittens.
We wandered around Staglands in a group, checking out some hungry pigs along with a nearby horse, donkey and ram before splitting up so everyone could see things at their own pace. A bunch of us sought some shelter so we could feed the babies and we found ourselves inside a well set up barn sitting around picnic tables and sharing food and catching up on how everyone was getting on.
Back outside we watched large trout and eels in a clear pond, wandered through a couple of aviaries firstly housing kea and kaka and secondly containing a menagerie of colourful birds like rainbow lorikeets and budgies. One lorikeet was especially friendly and happily hoped between individuals starting on arms and working its way up to the head where it would carefully nuzzle through clothing and hair apparently searching for food. Parents and children were entranced by the friendly little bird.
Outside the aviaries were lots of other birds; swans and geese, plenty of ducks and a fair amount of peacocks as well. Most of the animals were used to being hand fed and we had purchased feed earlier so Alayna got to get close-up with all sorts of interesting creatures, lots of first time encounters.
There was a recreation of a bush settlement complete with rickety church, tiny houses and stores and a small prison. We crossed a narrow swing bridge over the stream that ran through the property and wandered up a hill to a small herd of deer, two of which were quite keen to be feed. There was a very friendly and cheeky goat in the same field that was not shy about searching for food, at one point jumping up on me to lean across the pram and attempt to take our bag of feed. Obviously well practised.
It was good to get out and catch up with everyone and see all the growing babies. The girls meet up weekly but us guys have been slack in what used to be fairly regular get-togethers over a beer or two. Maybe the turn to colder weather hasn’t helped, though everyone is getting busier as our babies are getting older. Staglands was a good place to visit and Alayna enjoyed herself so I think its a safe bet that we’ll be back again.