Ikaroa Rehoming Centre


  • Andrea Thomson
    Phone: (06) 328 9812 E-mail

  • Nancy Neal
    Phone: (06) 856 6020 E-mail

Russian Fudge

Russian Fudge


Donkeys often come to us with overgrown feet which causes the ligaments in the legs to become deformed as well.

Caring for donkeys in New Zealand

Ikaoroa Rehoming Centre covers the bottom half of the North Island from Lake Taupo southwards. The Centre was set up in early 2007 by Andrea Thomson and Nancy Neal. It is recognised and affiliated to the Donkey and Mule Protection Trust N.Z. Nancy and Andrea found that in many cases donkeys have to be bought to get them out of a bad situation and if the donkey is able to be rehabilitated successfully it can be safely sold to a vetted and approved home to cover some of the costs of rescue and rehabilitation. Rehomed donkeys are sold on the proviso that the Rehoming Centre is involved should the donkey be rehomed again.

Nancy and Andrea found that they could not keep buying donkeys to rescue them, without recouping some of the costs. If a donkey is rescued that is fragile either because it is old, has physical or psychological needs then it will be put into the Donkey and Mule Protection Trust which can provide that lifetime care. The Rehoming Centre does not have its own land or special facilities. Nancy and Andrea run the rehoming centre donkeys in with their own stock.

Contact Nancy or Andrea for details of any donkeys looking for forever homes.

Our latest stories


Dudley, (Amberelle Nero [registered name Amberelle Nero]) is a donkey of strange coincidences, which luckily for him have turned out well! Just before Christmas I was contacted by the SPCA concerning a donkey near Feilding about whom they had received a complaint. It turned out that the donkey was not being mistreated, but the neighbour was worried about him as Dudley was braying all the time and the neighbour thought he was in trouble. The donkey, Dudley, was a jack with no donkey companions anywhere near and he was very lonely. However, although he was not being physically mistreated, he was being fed on dog biscuits and his feet were getting longer and longer... ! The advice of a knowledgeable neighbour improved matters.

Then in May I saw an auction on Trade Me for a donkey called Dudley located in Feilding.

It had been taken down by Trade Me by the time I saw it, as auctioning donkeys is not permitted. All I could see was a brief notice and no details. The name Dudley rang a bell, but where did he fit in? ... two hours later while visiting a friend I recalled who Dudley was and I raced for the phone!


Contact was made with the owners of Dudley to find out about the situation. They had sold up and were preparing to move to town in the next few days and leave Dudley behind! The next day, Virginia, who has given a wonderful home to Reuben of Ikaroa, collected Dudley and took him to her place.

Dudley was a jack stallion and Virginia has six donkeys, two of which are jennies and one of the geldings was a recent jack. It was pandemonium at her place! A neighbour rang to find out what the trouble was; the noise was so loud he thought there must be something wrong. No! It was just one very small jack stallion making a huge noise. Dudley was so pleased to see other donkeys!!

Dudley is the cutest little chap, Standing only 9.3 hh, he is a chocolate sweetie. He could have a dream home for the rest of his life with Virginia, but... he could not stay there unless he could be gelded. The problem was, we did not know his age, possibly 23, or even older? How much older? On further investigation with the former owner it turned out they had his registration certificate! What an amazing, wonderful discovery, which shows one of the great benefits of registering one’s donkey, as we now knew his age exactly - 22 years old.

I knew from experience that this was not too old to geld successfully if the donkey was healthy. But the local vet was going to be too expensive at $800 - there had to be two vets on hand for that age, so we took him to Massey University which cost $200. We also left him overnight for a further $75 to be sure he was OK.

It is much cheaper at Massey University for gelding as the students do it, but the experts supervise and I have never had a problem in all the years I have taken jack stallions to Massey. It is good that the students get experience in gelding donkeys; and also learn that a 22 year old donkey can be safely gelded. The hardest part was persuading Dudley to step onto the weigh scale. In the end he went on backwards! The gelding went well and the next day we collected Dudley who made a great hit with the veterinary staff and had received visits from the small animal vets down the hill! We thought we had better get him home before he got used to all the fawning and petting!

Dudley has not looked back, and is now a happy gelding that will be able to share a paddock with all the other donkeys in a couple of months. He has a great home and his situation, which had looked so dire just a week or so ago, is now rosy and secure with a forever loving and caring home. He is now on a proper donkey diet and Virginia hopes he will lose some of the fat rolls on his neck, caused by eating the dog biscuits. It is also useful for others to know that a healthy 22 year old jack stallion can be gelded safely. The vet needs to take certain care. Vets can check with Massey if they are unsure of what to do. I have had a 22 year old stud jack gelded at home some years ago, two vets came on that occasion, and he was also perfectly fine afterwards. Andrea Thomson
Milo of Ikaroa and Trossachs Boston

Milo, a sad looking donkey.

Milo's hoof before trimming

After feet trimming

Milo much happier

Trossachs Boston

A call was received from a lady who wanted to rehome two donkeys. The donkeys had been taken in by an acquaintance who was about to leave permanently for Australia. The caller had been left with the donkeys. After discussion it transpired that one of the donkeys was a jack. The lady knew of a good home available for the pair but the jack had to be gelded first, as one would expect, but the person would need financial assistance to have him gelded. The Trust has agreed to pay half the gelding cost for Milo and he will be gelded after Christmas, when he can be cared for while his new owner is on holiday. The boys are friendly and quiet and will make lovely pets for their new family.

The donkeys are young, being only 5 and 7 years old. They are healthy, although they are very thin. It is a far greater problem if a donkey is fat, rather than too thin, as slimming down a donkey is a difficult job. Weight can be more easily put on, as long as it is carefully done. The donkey’s feet were badly in need of trimming, but that was easily rectified. Boston had very bad rot in his front feet which will take some months of regular treatment to get rid of.

It was a wonderful solution to be able to find them a good home now that Milo is going to be gelded, thanks to the Trust. He had an uncertain future otherwise. Andrea Thomson

Some of the other donkeys we have cared for

Eden Eyore

Eyore was no longer wanted by his owner and we arranged to collect and planned to rehome him. However, when we got him home we discovered that he had not been gelded properly which explained his obnoxious behaviour! Once gelded we were able to start teaching him some manners and to be caught and lead. Within a few weeks he was a different donkey and he was enjoying life for once.


We were lucky to find him a home in the Hawke's Bay with an experienced donkey family and other donkey for company. He is stabled each night and he is a transformed donkey. Stories like his make rescue work worthwhile.

Cocoa of Ikaroa

When we went to collect Cocoa we thought we were getting a simple Rehoming donkey. What we found was another donkey that had not been gelded properly. He had also been badly abused and was terrified of people.

When we approached him with a halter for the first time once home he shook with fear so much we thought we was going to fall over. Poor wee donkey. However, once re gelded, and time spent getting to reassure him that nothing bad was going to happen and handling him gently we were able to walk up to him and catch him and also pick up his back feet. No mean feat as he had a vicious kick at first, but it was fear and once he knew nothing bad was going to happen to him he gained confidence.

Cocoa has found a knowledgeable forever home in the Wairarapa and is happy and settled in his new home. He bonded with his new owner quickly, which we were a little anxious about as abused donkeys can regress when changing homes, but he has not looked back. Another satisfying success story.

Peppermint of Ikaroa

Peppermint with Nancy Neal
Peppermint was the first donkey we rescued. He was a bull donkey who had been badly treated and was terrified of men.

After he was gelded it took many months of careful handling and encouragement before Nancy could catch him, handle his back feet and gain his trust. Now many years later Peppermint is a totally different donkey. He is well adjusted happy and trusting.

We have not rehomed Peppermint as he was so traumatised that we feel he would regress badly if separated from Nancy whom he has come to trust. He is living a happy life at her farm in Hawke's Bay along with her other donkeys and ponies.

Solomon of Ikaroa

We got an urgent call from the owners of Solomon to take him away as he had attacked a sheep. He was yet another ungelded jack bought as a ‘pet’ and not trained or respected as an entire. Once gelded and given training to lead, pick up his feet and tie up he was a different donkey.

Soloman head

He has found a great home and this year he went to a show and won reserve champion donkey!
Solomon also does good work visiting rest homes and doing charity work. He is now a reformed donkey, enjoying life and is much loved.

Turkish Delight of Ikaroa

Delight was another bull donkey jack when he was rescued. Except he was so quiet he would not work the bulls and the farmer was going to shoot him and feed him to the dogs. Luckily we heard about him and bought him in time.

After he was gelded and trained to lead and tie up he found a loving home with another donkey for company.

Solomon of Ikaroa

We got an urgent call from the owners of Solomon to take him away as he had attacked a sheep. He was yet another ungelded jack bought as a ‘pet’ and not trained or respected as an entire. Once gelded and given training to lead, pick up his feet and tie up he was a different donkey. He has found a great home and this year he went to a show and won reserve champion donkey!
Solomon also does good work visiting rest homes and doing charity work. He is now a reformed donkey, enjoying life and is much loved.

Sirius Black of Ikaroa

Sirius Black of Ikaroa at a rest home with an elderly gentleman

Sirius had been rescued from the same farm that Peppermint came from but, by a different lady. However, she was moving to town a couple of years later and contacted us to take Sirius. When we went to collect him and another donkey, both of whom were jacks, the people had them in cattle yards and were clearly frightened of them as they were entires. However, we found that they were quiet and friendly and the people were amazed that were went into the yard with them.

When we got him home we found that he must have had training at some time as he knew how to lead and he was able to be caught. Once gelded he soon became a teddy bear. Sirius has a wonderful home in Blenheim with anther Rehoming centre donkey where they often visit old people in rest homes and do other charity work. Sirius has the caring and loving home he deserves.

We will also provide a contact for your Area Representative from The Donkey and Mule Protection Trust NZ Web