Zealandia, a Trip Back in TimeFebruary 24, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C
New Zealand was once an isolated land free from mammals, except for bats, which meant native plants and birdlife flourished, including flightless kiwi. When humans came, so did the pests and predators that they brought with them. This left a lot of the original wildlife extinct and many species endangered. Zealandia, a pest-proof ecosanctuary in Wellington is the closest thing in New Zealand to be like what the country was like before humans were here.
Introduced predators almost wiped out New Zealand's native and endemic species, that had evolved without needing defence from mammals for millions of years. Since human arrival, at least 51 bird species, three frog species, three lizard species, one freshwater fish species, one bat species, four plant species, and a number of invertebrate species have become extinct.
Zealandia is Time Magazine’s 2019 pick for one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places to Visit in 2019.
The entire 500+ acre area, around a pretty reservoir, is surrounded by a 8.6 km predictor-proof fence that we could see in some areas on the hill. There is a 500-year (!) long range plan to restore the valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. Can you imagine?!!! 18 species of native wildlife have been reintroduced back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years.
A visit to Zealandia can be done in two ways, with or without a guide. We chose to do it on our own and follow the map with the bird/animal guide that was giving to us. The plants were identified in signs on the way.
There were several trails to chose from, some harder than others. We were always surprised when we turned a corner and there was a rare bird feeding at a station or on the ground in front of us. At one point, we questioned if the creators had installed speakers and were running a sound track of birds singing. There were so many birds in those woods.
One of our favourites was the little New Zealand Robin, Toutouwai, which is a very friendly and curious little bird. Another beautiful one was the Stitchbird, Hihi, that eats nectar from plants.
We saw an unusual lizard with a third eye and spines on his back called a Tuatara. This lizard has been around since the dinosaurs.
A little list of some of the unusual birds that we saw - Tui, Kaka, Kereru, Tieke, and Hihi . There are kiwis, but since they are night birds, we didn’t see them. There is a night tour at Zealandia that is supposed to be very popular but has to be booked weeks in advance.
Anyways, we wandered around the reservoir and in the forest for a few hours and loved the peacefulness. A nice break from the business of the city which is only a short distance away.
At 4 p.m., we had to pick up a new rental car from the Apex office downtown so we took the cable car down and walked the rest of the way. We ended up with a different car this time, a Toyota Corolla.
We had a restful evening, just getting caught up with news and footprints. We were a little tired today after walking 12 km up and down on trails, but it was a good day and the cooler weather was perfect.Read more