A morning at Zealandia, Wellington

We delivered our daughter back to Victoria University last weekend and took the opportunity to meander our way back up to the Bay of Plenty. It was a good escape from the aftermath of the Edgecumbe flood; salvage, insurance and uncertainty about the future have become all consuming and we were glad of the break.

Our darling girl wanted to spend Sunday with us so we took her and a friend to Zealandia, Wellington’s wildlife sanctuary. At $70 it was an expensive morning out, or perhaps we just don’t do these things often enough to know what is a standard price.

We started in the museum which showed the history of the place and how the sanctuary came to be with displays about the residents giving us a heads up of what to look for. We then watched a five minute film that detailed the impact on the land and wildlife since humans arrived. Seeing a condensed view of 800 years of destruction was incredibly confronting and left me feeling shaken and ashamed of the greed and selfishness of mankind. A walk in the sun and a chance to absorb the good work done by a few dedicated people restored my hope for a more aware and appreciative future.

You wouldn’t think the 225 hectare sanctuary was so close to the centre of our capital city. The only traffic noise was from an occasional plane or helicopter passing over and was certainly not intrusive. The day was sunny and cool and the birds came out to play. Bellbirds and tui kept up a melodious background for the chirping whiteheads, robins and fantails and the elusive stitchbirds and saddlebacks. We heard them but we couldn’t see them. We did see and hear plenty of rowdy kaka and stately takahe and the sun even brought out tuatara to bask in it’s warmth.

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Kaka feeding station

The tracks were well formed and catered for everyone from wheelchair friendly to rough and steep and took us to bird feeding stations, historic sites and past the lake. There is even an electric boat that takes tours on the lake but it wasn’t operating on the day we visited. Informed, friendly staff and volunteers (or perhaps they were all volunteers) were about doing maintenance and feeding jobs and impressed us with their enthusiasm and knowledge of their charges.

So, with all this, perhaps the entry fee is reasonable after all. I could certainly see where it went, it was no tourist rip off and we all left feeling richer for the experience.

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