We’ve visited Wellington several times and Zealandia before.(formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary) Last time our visit was during the winter and since we both really wanted to see a tuatara, we decided to try our luck again.
Zealandia is an inland island – sanctuary for some of our rarest native birds. The entire place is surrounded by a tall, pest-proof fence that keeps out wild cats, stoats, weasels, possums, rats and other introduced pests that decimate our native bird population.
The site was previously a water reservoir for the city, but since Wellington has grown it became unviable. There was also the problem of an earthquake hitting. The area was replanted with native trees and turned into a sanctuary.
This is the old reservoir.
Native New Zealand duck – the scaup. It’s the smallest of our native ducks. The scaup is a diving duck and disappears for long moments under the water.
This is a takahe, one of our flightless birds. It was thought to be extinct after 1898 but was rediscovered in 1948. There are two takahe at Zealandia – a pair – although they are infertile so are not adding to the low population. They eat tussocks, grass, shoots and insects.
This is the kakariki parakeet, one of NZ’s natives. They have become endangered due to loss of their natural habitat.
The day of our visit was warm and sunny – the perfect weather to tempt the tuataras out of their burrows. Tuatara are rare reptiles that are found only in New Zealand. I’d never seen one before since they mostly live on off shore islands and at a few sanctuaries.
We saw their burrows and finally, much to our excitement we spotted a tuatara!
I still get excited whenever I think about seeing them. We watched them for ages, not that they do much except sit there soaking in the heat from the sun. It was a real privilege to see such a rare creature.
Is there any animal or bird that you would like to see in person?