Join our team

Cafe Assistant – Part Time

Starting immediately we have a job opening for a cafe assistant in our busy Horopito cafe. We have a permanent Monday shift available and casual shifts on Thursdays and Sundays over our shoulder season which runs from March through to the end of April. 

Each shift will be a minimum of 4 hours starting before our lunch rush and closing our cafe. Over our shoulder season March, and April you can expect a increase of hours on your regular Monday shift. 

Additional hours will become available to provide cover for staff leave and when we have planned catering events.

This is a great opportunity to work in a role that supports conservation. With cafe proceeds supporting conservation at Orokonui Ecosanctuary.

Please email Louise with a cover letter and CV to

Orokonui Wildlife

Help Count Kākā this Feb

Hundreds of hours of staff and volunteer time go towards caring for kākā at Orokonui. From keeping the sanctuary mammalian predator free, checking nest boxes, filling and cleaning feeders, banding and surveying, and educating people. It’s suffice to say these charismatic taoka keep us busy. But is all this mahi working? Are kākā numbers on the increase? We need your help to learn more about the population.

For the week of the 26th February to 3rd March we are asking anyone and everyone around Ōtepoti/Dunedin to report all kākā they see, every day this week to the kākā database. Whether you see it in your backyard, the sanctuary, or local park we want to know when, where and the bands(if possible) of every kākā spotted.

Why is this so important?

South island kākā are classed as threatened – nationally vulnerable. Meaning they are vulnerable to further decline if nothing is done. A small population of kākā were established at Orokonui, starting in 2008. Before this kākā were lost from this area for around 150 years. While this population is thought to be growing, surveying kākā can be tricky as they are highly mobile. By getting everyone involved for a week we will get a better understanding of how many kākā are in the population, and how far from the sanctuary they are being sighted. This information will help us at Orokonui manage their population better, but will also help guide predator control and habitat enhancement efforts outside the sanctuary.

What to do if you see or hear a kākā

Whenever you see or hear a kākā during the count you can report it straight away to the kākā database here. Or write down the details somewhere and report it later. Photos and videos can be really useful if you have a camera nearby. They can be especially useful for helping to read leg bands.

If you have any trouble reporting kākā, or identifying individuals send through any photos or videos to

How do I know if it’s a kākā?

Most of the time kākā are quite obvious but their can be times where they can be a bit more tricky. The easiest time to confuse kākā for other birds is in flight. You can see in the image below the characteristic red can be hard to make out against the light from above. Kākā have shorter wings and flap more than a kāhu/harrier, their wings don’t come to a sharp point like a kārearea/falcon, and their undersides do not appear pale like a kererū.

South island kākā from below. Oscar Thomas.

Another give away of a kākā in any situation are their calls, they are vocal and social birds. So listening out for their calls can be a great way to tell where they are, especially at dawn and dusk when they tend to be most vocal. You can listen to a variety of calls on the birds NZ website

If you want to confirm what you heard, or saw are kākā you can always send a photo, video, or audio recording through to

How to read leg bands?

To help us gain more knowledge and manage this population, most of the kākā are banded. Each banded kākā will have a series of bands that create a unique colour combination for that individual. To read the leg bands start on the left leg (from the kākā’s perspective) and read top to bottom, then the same on the right leg. Reading leg bands can be tricky but provides great information

I saw a kākā with no leg bands!

There are always a few kākā in the population without leg bands. They may not have been banded as chicks in the sanctuary because the nest was inaccessible, or they may have been born in a nest outside the sanctuary. Recording unbanded kākā is just as important as recording banded ones, just select the unbanded category when reporting the sighting.

I am not in Dunedin but I saw a kākā

Awesome! It is always special to see a kākā wherever you are in Aotearoa/NZ. However, this project is focused on the kākā found around Dunedin. You can still help scientists in other parts of the country by making an observation of your kākā sighting using iNaturalist or eBird.


Orokonui #ValleyCam now live

Wherever you are in the world you can now see whats happening in the Orokonui valley using our new live #ValleyCam. This feed looks across the Orokonui valley towards one our our mauka/mountains Māpounui.

This live camera looks across the Orokonui valley to Māpounui, from it we will be able to watch birds fly, plants flower, and the valley change with the seasons.

Kā mihi a huge thanks to Port Otago for sponsoring, setting up, and providing technical support for this camera. A massive mihi to Unifone NZ as well for providing our connection free to allow us to stream the Orokonui valley to the world.


Walking towards our conservation goals

The name Orokonui is used for the sanctuary but for hundreds of years before it has been the name of the valley our reserve nestles into. Given this the best way to explore all of Orokonui would be to travel from the top of the valley to the bottom (and back again), and that is exactly what participants of the 2023 Orokonui Walk for Wildlife did on Sunday October 1st.

With promise of a sunny day around 50 walkers from 8 to 80 years old gathered at the Orokonui visitor’s centre before opening, to venture down the valley. Trickling out in groups, walkers began their adventure from mountains to sea. Our trails follow the valley centre, and the stream. Winding through regenerating bush, ancient forest giants like rimu, totarā and miro, and through the tallest forest canopy in Aotearoa New Zealand thanks to the eucalypts.

After reaching the valley floor guided by the calls of our native birds. Walkers exited the sanctuary to head further towards the sea looping around the Orokonui estuary. This part of the walk took participants, along boardwalks, past mudflats and right to sea level enjoying a different suite of wildlife that inhabits these parts.

After circumnavigating the inlet, it was time for walkers to head back through the fence to climb up the robin valley track towards the visitor’s centre and lunch. After some amazing efforts up the hill by all, but particularly those with youngest legs. Everyone arrived back at the top of the valley to be re-fuelled by a specially prepared lunch from our café team and with support of Bidfood and Goodman Fielder to supply the ingredients needed to cater everyone with delicious kai. Given the hot day we were also glad we also had some great drinks kindly supplied by Phoenix Organics and StrangeLove Soda on hand for those that took part.

Before everyone carried on further exploring or recovering, we were able to reward the efforts of participants with some great spot prizes from Bivouac Outdoor Dunedin, Night ‘n Day, Four Square Port Chalmers, Anytime Fitness, and Tea Total.

Thanks to everyone who took part we had a great time and were able to raise some funds towards supporting conservation at Orokonui and helping to help wildlife thrive!

Another enormous thanks to all the business who supported us to run this great event. Bidfood, Phoenix Organics, StrangeLove Soda, Goodman Fielder, Bivouac Outdoor Dunedin, Night ‘n Day, Four Square Port Chalmers, Anytime Fitness, and Tea Total.

If you missed out this year, we will bring back the walk in 2024. But we also have the Orokonui challenge coming up, our 18.7km running race is the ultimate way you can support conservation while challenging yourself. Learn more about it here.

Orokonui Uncategorized

Getting groovy for conservation

Recently the visitor’s centre played host to a gathering of a different sort of wildlife, with the St Margarets College disco themed ball. After some research online the organising students found that no other venue stood our quite like Orokonui.

Over the years Orokonui has hosted everything from weddings and concerts, to corporate meetings and birthdays. But we believe this may be the first ever event at Orokonui to have a light up disco floor.

With the café chairs cleared out there was plenty of space for the 180 students to dance, chat, and hang. The use of the classroom also allowed for a dedicated photo space, perfect for capturing the variety of incredible outfits.

While the light up dance floor and other decorations made the space look amazing, students noted that nature had done the best job decorating. There were even times when the sunset over the valley and silver peaks even upstaged the disco floor.

Most importantly as with any good party, there was abundant delicious food to keep dancers fuelled into the night. All the kai for this event was crafted by our stellar café team. They worked hard and managed to pull off an amazing spread with not just enough food for all, but with something for every dietary requirement as well.

Despite the size of the event the student organisers were able to focus on enjoying the evening thanks to our events team taking care of everything else. After the event they had this to say about the experience.

“Amazing service! From the initial visit, to the ball day and, even post ball, 200% all throughout. It was super easy to work with the wonderful team at Orokonui they made things on my end so so much easier than I could’ve ever imagined. They helped facilitate and allow my vision to come to life.”

Attending the evening was also the funnest way the students could support conservation, with all proceeds of events like these going straight back to helping us help wildlife thrive.

To host your next event at Orokonui get in touch with us by emailing