Children camping illustration
Image: DOC


Earn a Kiwi Guardians medal by creating a wētā 'motel' in your backyard! It's a home for wētā to crawl into, to protect them from being eaten by introduced predators like rats, stoats, cats and hedgehogs.


New Zealand has more than 70 species of wētā, from small ground wētā to wētā that can be heavier than a mouse! Wētā have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and only exist in New Zealand.

Many wētā species are now endangered, so it’s very important we look after them.

A wētā motel will help protect them from being eaten by introduced predators like rats, stoats, cats and hedgehogs. Female wētā lay 100-300 eggs so if you build a home they like, their numbers will grow.

Download this activtiy

Build a wētā motel (PDF, 464K)

What you need

  • Small log
  • Material for motel roof (plastic or iron)
  • Saw, chisel and drill
  • String or wire to hang up your motel
    Nails and hammer
  • An adult to give you a hand

What to do

1. Explore your backyard

Explore your garden and see if you have some wētā already. Find out what kind of wētā you have, or what kind of wētā like to live in your area.

Think about what would make a great wētā home – this will help you work out where to put your wētā motel.

Sawing a log.
Saw a small log in half

Chisel out a cavity for the weta gallery.
Chisel out the wētā gallery

Drill a hole for the entrance hole.
Drill a hole for the entrance tunnel

A 3 star weta motel.
A completed 3 star wētā motel

2. Build the wētā motel

3 star wētā motel

A 3 star wētā motel is simple and fun to make.

  • Start with a small log and saw it in half.
  • Chisel out some rooms, and drill an entrance tunnel.
  • Nail or bind the two halves together and nail on a roof.
  • Hang or tie the motel in a tree in a shady spot at about eye level.

5 star wētā motel

Use the 5 star wētā motel design (PDF, 232K) to create a 10 unit 'motel'  in your garden for wētā. It’s great but takes longer to make than the 3 star model.

It was designed by Victoria University of Wellington entomologist Professor George Gibbs, who has given permission for the Department of Conservation to distribute it.

3. Be patient

In the forest wētā move in within three months. After a year they have about four wētā in each motel.

Handy hints for making wētā motels

  • Use willow and aged pine (rather than fresh pine), but make sure it's not rotting.
  • Make entrance tunnel holes 18 mm or slightly smaller to stop mice (10 mm is too small).
  • Make entrance tunnels quite long. and sloping down from the top or the side (not from underneath),
  • Make windows from perspex or plastic from a bottle with shutters that can be closed. Make them removable for cleaning.
  • Wētā prefer motels without windows, but will live in motels with windows as long as their gallery is deep.
  • You’ll probably get more wētā if you have more single room motels. 

Claim your Kiwi Guardians Habitat Creator medal

Kiwi Guardians medal for building a wētā motel.
Kiwi Guardians medal for building a wētā motel

Tell us if there are any wētā in your backyard and about the wētā motel you’ve built, and we’ll send you Kiwi Guardians Habitat Creator medal.

  • What did your motel look like?
  • How did you build it?
  • Has anything moved in yet?

Complete the claim form to tell us about your activity, and we'll send you a medal. Each Kiwi Guardians action has a different medal – see how many you can collect.

Share what you did

The team at Toyota Kiwi Guardians would love to hear about what you did. Send us an email, or share something online using #KiwiGuardians, so we can share it with others. Visit Kiwi Guardians on Facebook.

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