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Zealandia – a day out with nature

Zealandia is New Zealand's leading ecosanctuary
Zealandia is New Zealand’s leading ecosanctuary

Zealandia is one of New Zealand’s most exciting tourist attractions and is situated right in the heart of Wellington, so close to the CBD that you couldn’t believe a place like this existed. As soon as you enter this, the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, you are transported a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of New Zealand’s capital city.

Zealandia’s vision

Zealandia aerial shot. Photo credit: Tom Lynch
Zealandia aerial shot. Photo credit: Tom Lynch

Zealandia has a vision. It’s an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. Zealandia is huge. It’s a 225 hectare ecosanctuary which has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, 6 of which were absent on mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. These guys are achieving ground-breaking results and that 500 year vision doesn’t seem so crazy when you see the work they are doing.

The wildlife at Zealandia

Checking out a rare Tahake at Zealandia. Photo credit: Shaun Matthews
Checking out a rare Tahake at Zealandia. Photo credit: Shaun Matthews

Zealandia is a great place to come and explore and see some of the countries rarest species, living in a completely natural habitat. Zealandia claims to be the most biodiversity-rich square mile of mainland in all of New Zealand and who are we to argue. Over 40 species of native birds have been recorded in the sanctuary’s valley. Prior to human existence in New Zealand, this was a bird land and rare and wonderful species were found here. Off the 40 species found in the valley at the sanctuary, 24 of them are endemic (only found in New Zealand) which is pretty awesome.

On top of the amazing bird life, there are also dozens of reptiles, hundreds of plant species and thousands of invertebrates that have made Zealandia their home.

Visiting Zealandia

A guided walk at Zealandia. Photo credit: Zealandia
A guided walk at Zealandia. Photo credit: Zealandia

Zealandia is only a short 10 minute drive from the city making it ideal for a day trip the next time you visit Wellington. There is a free shuttle than runs from the i-Site in the CBD and from the cable car. If you are making a day of things, you can catch the cable car up to the botanic gardens where Zealandia is only a short 20-30 minute walk and there are also public buses than run to the sanctuary.

One you arrive, we recommend getting involved in some of the tours and walks around the sanctuary – whilst you are free to roam around by yourself once you have paid your entry fee, to maximise your experience and really learn more about the project, it’s definitely best to hear about the wildlife and the plant life from the experts.

Booking your visit to Zealandia

Zealandia is a favourite with many guests at the Willis Wellington and we are always more than happy to help you to find your way there either on public transport or by the free shuttle. Our staff are also big fans of Zealandia so will be able to tell you much more about the sanctuary so if you are thinking about heading there for the day, get the lowdown first from one of our members of staff.

To find out more about the sanctuary, including opportunities to volunteer and donate to help them to achieve their vision, visit the Zealandia website.

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