Immerse yourself in primeval New Zealand inside a walled wildlife sanctuary. Zealandia’s 500-year vision is to restore its 555 acres (225 hectares) to how it was before humans arrived on the mainland. The eco-attraction, formerly known as Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, is home to some of the nation’s rarest insects, birds and reptiles, including the prehistoric lizard-like tuatara, the little spotted kiwi and the saddleback bird.
Zealandia sits in a valley within the city limits and is surrounded by a specially constructed fence, designed to keep out pests and predators. Before exploring the valley, spend a little time watching, reading and playing at the exhibition inside the Visitor Centre. There are two floors of multimedia exhibits and interactive displays that tell the stories of New Zealand’s natural history from prehistoric times up to the present day.
Go on a self-guided walk or join a guided tour of the sanctuary valley. There are 20 miles (32 kilometers) of trails, from wheelchair and buggy friendly flat terrain to more challenging landscapes. Most of the sanctuary’s animals live in the wild, but a few are sheltered in protective enclosures.
Venture into the bush and wetlands after dark on one of the nocturnal tours. These torchlight treks take you through the valley in search of kiwi birds and other animals that are active at night. Listen out for some of the distinctive sounds of the wild including animals foraging for food and bird calls. The nocturnal tours must be booked in advance, and they have a separate fee. For details of all the sanctuary’s guided tours and suggested walking itineraries visit Zealandia’s website.
The eco-sanctuary is just over a mile (2 kilometers) from the city center and is served by a number of bus routes. There is also a free shuttle bus that picks up visitors on a first come, first served basis. You can find the timetable and a list of pickup points on Zealandia’s website. If you come by car, free parking is available.
Zealandia is open every day except Christmas Day.