New Tuatara Trail connects old and new enclosures in Queens Park

Visitors on the hunt for the new home of the tuatara now have a fun and informative way to explore Queens Park via the city’s latest attraction, the Tuatara Trail.

Invercargill City Council has today announced the opening of the Tuatara Trail, a walking route connecting the former home of the tuatara at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery to their new habitat at Te Moutere – Tuatara Island.

Council Manager Parks and Recreation Caroline Rain said visitors to Queens Park could follow the Tuatara Trail and explore all that the award-winning park has to offer before ending up at the specialist tuatara enclosure nestled in the Animal Reserve.

“We wanted to keep that link between the museum, which most people know as the home of the tuatara, and their new home as well as Queens Park itself,” Rain said. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have these facilities and spaces within our takiwā, and the Tuatara Trail will help attract a wider audience.”

The new home of the tuatara, Te Moutere – Tuatara Island, officially opened June 7, with more than 2,000 people attending the public opening day. The large turnout highlights the public’s captivation with the tuatara.

The Tuatara Trail creates a loop that is accessible from multiple points within Queens Park and features 20 bollards along its route. QR codes on the bollards provide users with additional information about the new tuatara enclosure as well as Council’s Project 1225 initiative.

“It’s an exciting time for the city with the development of the Tuatara Trail, the successful opening of Te Moutere – Tuatara Island, and construction on the new museum set to begin later this year. These key cultural facilities are all under Project 1225, an initiative that is set to add to the richness of Invercargill’s landscape,” Rain said.

“With the Tuatara Trail winding its way between the museum and the Animal Reserve, it will provide a way to inform park users of the exciting progress we’re making with these developments.

“Our hope for the Tuatara Trail is to grow awareness of Project 1225 and also give park visitors – whether young or young-at-heart – another fun activity to enjoy now and into the future.”

Find out more about Project 1225 here.


About Te Moutere – Tuatara Island

Te Moutere – Tuatara Island is a specialist enclosure for Southland’s tuatara colony located within the Animal Reserve in Queens Park. The facility, completed in June 2024, provides the tuatara with an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat and includes a network of burrows and tunnels to give the animals spaces to hide and keep warm. Above ground, the enclosure is designed to encourage natural behaviours like climbing, basking, and digging. Te Moutere also incorporates care facilities complete with a hospital bed for specialist treatment. Designed by the Christchurch-based architectural firm Studio4 and brought to life by Calder Stewart’s Invercargill branch, this state-of-the-art facility provides a species-specific habitat for this treasured taonga species.