Before rapid urbanisation crept into the capital city, the site of Zealandia was covered in thick forest home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, frogs and assorted creepy crawlies. Over time, the endemic flora and fauna have had it tough trying to compete with introduced plants and wildlife, but the eco-restorative efforts of Zealandia mean this ancient beauty lives on. At Zealandia: the Karori Sanctuary Experience, you can discover an astounding 80 million years of natural history.
Zealandia has become a global success story as the world's first fully fenced urban eco-sanctuary – keeping the local critters in and the pests out. Across a 225-hectare valley just 10 minutes from the heart of Wellington, Zealandia is home to rare, beautiful and charismatic species including, of course, the iconic kiwi. Get to know the playful kaka forest parrots, the "living fossil" that is the tuatara and many others during a 45-minute Walk & Talk tour.
If you choose to hang around after dusk for a night tour, you can see the little spotted kiwi in action, foraging on the forest floor and singing out to potential mates. Alternatively, if you're more of a morning person, get in early for "Breakfast, Bubbles & Birdsong" to savour the flavours and sights of Tane's Forest. There are tonnes of ways to customise your visit to Zealandia, but they all boast a strong focus on the preservation of New Zealand's unique, native wildlife.
Zealandia is found just over two kilometres from downtown Wellington, with the entrance at the end of Waiapu Road. Break up your busy day with breakfast or lunch at the Rata Cafe on site – those green at heart will be pleased to know the cafe also operates with a strong eco conscience, serving up free-range pork, chicken and eggs, seasonal fruit and veggies, organic milk and local fair trade coffee.