Tuesday, March 13, 2012


On Saturday, the sun was shining, it was warm, and we decided to go back to Zealandia, the wildlife park in the centre (-ish) of Wellington. Well, it's in the central Wellington area. I first visited Zealandia when Nicola's family were visiting, and we took advantage of their special offer for membership, which means we can go there any time we like without paying...for the next year, anyway.

We entered through the takahe enclosure. Takahe are extremely endangered - like many New Zealand birds, they were highly susceptible to predation by both humans and introduced mammals, and only survive on predator-free islands or in reserves such as Zealandia or Pukaha Mount Bruce

We then walked up the lakeside track to the tuatara area. Last time we were there we spotted four tuatara basking in the afternoon sunshine: 

A tuatara in typical pose. The coloured beads identify them to  the staff.

This time around, we only saw two - an adult male and a juvenile - whilst we walked along the front part of the tuatara enclosure alongside the path. But then we decided to take a different turn and walked up the back of the enclosure, an area which is not as sunny, in order to get to the high dam (Zealandia is built around what used to be Wellington's main water supply, until the powers that be realised the foolishness of having a water supply right on the main fault line under the city). We discovered that there were patches of sunlight here where the path curved, and saw two more adults out in the sunshine...then, when we were leaving the enclosure and heading off on a different track, some rustling in the undergrowth attracted us and we spotted another one outside the enclosure. So this was almost like seeing one in the wild!

After walking the high track and the Valley View track (from which we were unable to view the valley) we came to the bellbird and hihi feeding area, where, unsurprisingly, we saw several bellbirds and hihis. They're generally quite difficult to tell apart, but apparently the hihi has a tail which sticks up, whereas the bellbird doesn't.

By the time we'd completed the circuit our sightings of tuatara were a bit out of date (visitors are encouraged to note sightings on a whiteboard, to assist other visitors in spotting them), so we took a quick peek at the wetas in their weta hotels before heading back to the visitor centre.

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