Back in 1929, Rainbow Springs consisted mostly of swampland – there were no trout pools and very little in the way of trees or ferns.
Today, our 22 acres of native trees and bush is home to some of New Zealand’s most iconic reptile and bird species, including the country’s largest and most successful kiwi conservation centre, Kiwi Encounter.
When founder Ted Bruce bought the land in 1929 he envisaged something quite different for the site, which at the time was a run-down dairy farm. He and his team spent hours, often in cold, muddy conditions, digging out a hole for what is now the Rainbow Pool. They also planted hundreds of trees and ferns, before opening the park to the public in 1932.
Like the flora and fauna within it, Rainbow Springs continues to evolve and develop with the times.
No one knows more about the changes in the park than Warden Ray Punter, who started working with us 44 years ago shortly after arriving to New Zealand from Africa.
“We once had pheasants, doves, deer and pigs. At different times we also had donkeys, stoats and Pacific rats called kiore. Now the park offers more entertainment – we have the Big Splash ride, children’s playground and new play installations.”
Mr Punter says he has stayed at Rainbow Springs for so long because he loves being outside. “It’s the environment I’m working in, I’m outdoors in the fresh air, in amongst the trees and ferns, trout pools and birds. It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining, it’s blowing a gale or it’s raining, as long as I’m outside I’m happier.”