Words on Wednesday: Zealandia

Cities don’t have to be places devoid of native wildlife. In fact, in some cases it can completely flourish there (see here for the quote)

The sun came out on the first day of 2021, and so we headed over to Zealandia. I have posted about this wonderful place many times before on this blog, but in case you don’t know, Zealandia is a fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary. The fence is designed to keep out introduced mammallian predators such as stoats and rats, and has a long term vision to restore the land and water to pre-human conditions. Vulnerable native species such as hihi, little spotted kiwi, and tuatara live safely in the sanctuary. Thanks to Zealandia, birds such as the tūī, kākā and kererū, once extremely rare in the region, are all now common sights around central Wellington. In fact, every day on my walk to work, I see flocks of kākā, and the sounds of the tūī wake us up each morning.

Our first close encounter was with two takahē, the biggest flightless bird in New Zealand and an endangered species. They are such beautiful birds, with iridescent blue feathers and red beaks. We were so lucky to get so close on this visit.

Sitting next to the takahē, were these two quail – look closely and carefully!

No visit to Zealandia is complete without spotting a few tuatara, a reptile unique to New Zealand. Famous for their third eye on the top centre of the skull, they make little burrows and love to bask in the sun. While usually the place to spot them is a specially fenced off area, occasionally they have also been spotted at nearby picnic benches.

There are many different paths and walks around Zealandia, where you might be lucky to see or hear something. You also get a real feel of what New Zealand must have been like.

We were lucky enough to spot this little North Island robin, hopping along without a care in the world. Apparently, over forty different species of native birds have been recorded in Zealandia.

Even though we see and hear kākā every day, it is always fun to watch them at one of the feeding stations. You can read more about their success story here. On this visit, both Karl and I, and some other visitors, were dive bombed by a cheeky kākā, obviously telling us who was boss.

If you ever happen to be in Wellington, I can highly recommend taking some time to walk around Zealandia. You never know what you will see.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com

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