Whio Hardening Facility

The new whio hardening facility at the Tongariro National Trout Centre acts as a ‘boot camp’ for young Whio bred in captivity, to harden them up to survive in the wild - and it's a great opportunity for visitors to see these special birds close up!

Whio Hardening Facility

Made up of two predator-proof enclosures, and complete with fast flowing streams and rapids, river rocks and tussock, the facility gives whio the perfect learning environment for life in the wild.

The ducklings come through the facility in the summer months only.


Why a whio hardening facility at the Tongariro National Trout Centre?

Before Turangi, the only other Whio hardening facilities were in the South Island, meaning Whio bred in the North Island would be sent south to 'harden up' before returning north for their release. A long journey for such young birds!

The whio are the latest addition to the Tongariro National Trout Centre, joining the freshwater aquarium, hatchery, museum and education centre in celebrating our clean freshwater and its values.

The facility adds to efforts by Genesis Energy in partnership with DOC to increase whio numbers through the Whio Forever Project.


About the whio / blue duck

The whio is a unique native blue duck found only in New Zealand’s clean, fast-flowing waters like the Tongariro River, which flows past the trout centre. They are classified as ‘nationally vulnerable’, and are rarer than some species of kiwi.

The whio is one of only three torrent duck species worldwide and has a number of unique and fascinating features.


Quick Facts

Whio / Blue Duck

  • Population: Under 3000
  • Threat status: Nationally vulnerable
  • Found in: Clean, fast-flowing rivers in the North and South Islands 
  • Whio are rarer than some species of kiwi
  • The whio features on our $10 note
  • It is one of a handful of torrent duck species worldwide and only lives on fast-flowing backcountry waterways. 
  • Nesting along the riverbanks, they are at high risk of attack from stoats and rats.

Learn more about the whio.

Explore our language pages