51 young Black Stilts were released into the wild at the head of Lake Tekapo on Tuesday.
The last captive juvenile kaki – the rarest wading bird in the world – ventured into the wild for their first time in the Mackenzie Basin.
Fifty-one of the birds were released onto the Godley Delta, at the head of Lake Tekapo on Mt Gerald Station, on Tuesday afternoon.
The 9-month-old kaki were released by Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and pupils from St Andrew's College in Christchurch.
The boxes open and kaki, or black stilts, are released into the wild at the head of Lake Tekapo.
Their release meant there were now no juvenile kaki left in captivity ahead of the next breeding season, DOC aviculturist Liz Brown said.
There are 106 adult kaki in the wild and five adult breeding pairs in captivity. Two of those pairs were in Twizel and three were in Christchurch, she said.
DOC biodiversity senior ranger Dean Nelson said the release of the birds was "very cool"; it was "like all our hard work has come to fruition".
Tuesday was the fourth date to be scheduled for the release. The other dates were affected by rain or high winds.