Zealandia Ecosanctuary is a unique wildlife conservation park in Karori, just minutes from central Wellington. A premier eco-attraction, the fully fenced urban project has restored much of the flora and fauna that once surrounded the city. Forest and wetlands provide habitat for more than 40 native bird species, amphibians, and reptiles.The Basics
There are multiple ways to trace the development of New Zealand’s natural history in Zealandia. Take a guided walking tour through the predator-proof, 550-acre (225-hectare) sanctuary, home to endemic birds such as the kakariki, tui, takahe, and kaka, as well as a variety of frogs and lizards plus the rare green gecko and tuatara. Visitors can learn to spot highly endangered birds by their distinctive features, birdsong, and behaviors.
Discover what Aotearoa/New Zealand was like before human impact and see extinct species such as the moa and Haast’s eagle via multimedia exhibits. Entrance fees are typically included with bookings of small-group walking tours. Twilight tours offer visitors a chance to witness diurnal birds nesting down for the night, while nocturnal species such as the ruru (morepork) awaken. Visit after hours to experience Zealandia’s Sanctuary Valley at night, and you may glimpse the little spotted kiwi.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Zealandia is a must-visit attraction for natural-history buffs, birders, and families with children.
- General admission is self-guided, while tours range from 1.5 to 2.5 hours in duration.
- A significant area of the sanctuary is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- Refuel at the park’s café overlooking the lake; the menu is organic and sustainably sourced.
Located at 53 Waiapu Road, the Karori wildlife sanctuary is just over a mile (around 2 kilometers) from downtown Wellington. Buses stop at the end of the road, about a 2-minute walk from the entrance. It’s 10 minutes by taxi, 20 minutes by bike, and around 30 minutes on foot via the top of Wellington Botanic Garden. Alternatively, a free shuttle picks up Zealandia visitors from the i-SITE or the end of the Wellington Cable Car.
When to Get There
Zealandia is open daily for general admission 10am–5pm, except on Christmas Day. Last entry is at 4pm, with the exception of night tours, which depart around dusk. Twilight tours run October–March, while kids’ night tours run April–September.Rare Sighting: Little Spotted Kiwi
Wildlife conservation and ecological restoration at Zealandia is overseen by the Karori Sanctuary Trust, which has managed to restore the only wild population of little spotted kiwi found on the mainland. With just 40 birds originally transferred from Kapiti Island starting in 2000, current estimates place the elusive and almost extinct flightless bird at more than 140 at Zealandia. Chances of seeing them or hearing their calls are best during a night tour.