It was a momentary glance, a fleeting glimpse, but it was enough to bring Sue Reid to tears.
"I thought I was alright until I saw his face," a red-eyed Mrs Reid whispered after seeing Sirocco the kakapo at Maungatautari mountain yesterday.
"It's just a totally overwhelming and special moment."
The affable, flightless parrot earlier arrived in style at Hamilton International Airport.
There were all the trimmings of a celebrity visit as eager fans mingled around the airport terminus waiting for a glimpse of the 15-year-old talent as he flew in from his home on Maud Island.
Once at Maungatautari, Sirocco was welcomed onto the mountain with a simple ceremony.
Maungatautari Ecological Island Trustco-chairman Karaitiana Tamatea lead a karakia as about 30 onlookers gathered for their first glimpse of the nocturnal parrot.
Mr Tamatea said Sirocco's visit was "like an ancestor coming into our midst".
Kakapo were once abundant throughout New Zealand but today number only 126.
"It's like looking at something which was here long before we were here," Mr Tamatea said.
"It [Sirocco] represents the past but he's also a sign of the future on Maungatautari."
Sirocco is being housed in a purpose-built outdoor enclosure on the mountain for six weeks and will be displayed during a series of night-time viewings.
The trust's long-term objective is to bring kakapo back to the mountain permanently.
MEIT general manager Malcolm Anderson said Sirocco's arrival was a significant occasion for the trust.
Sirocco gained worldwide attention in 2009 when his amorous antics were filmed in the documentary Last Chance to See, fronted by British actor Stephen Fry.
Footage captured Sirocco trying to mate with zoologist Mark Carwardine's head.
"Today is the start of bringing kakapo back to the maunga," Mr Anderson said.
"Trust staff and volunteers have done a great job and there's been a number of past highlights but today marks a whole new era for the trust."
Conservation Department Kakapo operations ranger Jo Ledington said Sirocco's visit was his only public showing this year.
She said months of planning had gone into the trip, with Sirocco's welfare of paramount concern.
"Because he's an endangered species there's a legal process we have to follow to allow Maungatautari to have him. There's a lot of work involved and that's why we only display Sirocco in the years kakapo aren't breeding. During those years we're flat-stick making more kakapo."
Sirocco will be at Maungatautari until September 26 with his first public display on Saturday. Adult tickets cost $45, child A (aged 6 to 15) $22.50, child B (aged 4 to 5) free. Family of two adults and two children: $115. For more information visit maungatrust.org.