Zealandia

After nine months of saying I will do so, I finally went to Zealandia, a local bird sanctuary. The sanctuary covers 225 hectares over a couple of valleys with a man-made reservoir. The whole sanctuary is free of predators like rats, stoats, cats and dogs, all of which pose a serious threat to New Zealand’s native wildlife. It’s about ten minutes from downtown Wellington. That’s right – the pictures below are that close to New Zealand’s capital city. 

If you are in Wellington, don’t wait nine months – go now. If you’re outside of Wellington, start planning your visit. If you’re outside of New Zealand, well, you should still come and visit, but in the meantime, here’s some photos! The ones below are all from my sister, who ran out of battery on her camera and borrowed mine. She’s rather talented!

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Wellington Green Gecko ©Emma Hill

The Wellington Green Gecko is classified by the Department of Conservation (DoC) as threatened and in Gradual Decline, but breeding programmes on predator-free off-shore islands are are hoping to reverse that.

What’s the difference between a gecko and a skink? Well, there are many differences, but my favourite one is that geckos don’t have eyelids – instead they lick their eyeballs clean. Don’t believe me? Click here.

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Toutouwai (North Island Robin) (I think) Described by DoC as ‘a friendly and trusting bird’ – which, as I can attest, means they love posing for photos! ©Emma Hill

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Male Hīhī (Stitchbird) ©Emma Hill

The last known sighting of a hīhī on the New Zealand mainland was 1883 – so seeing one this close is pretty amazing. They’re also the only bird to (sometimes) mate face-to-face. The DoC fact sheet has more interesting information, including recordings of the hīhī’s unusual call.

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Tuī – cheeky buggers stealing the kākā’s food. ©Emma Hill

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Kākāriki ©Emma Hill

It’s very special to be able to see these birds in an almost wild environment. But the main stars of the show were the kākā. We were lucky; we arrived at one of the kākā feeding stations just before the volunteers put out food. Several kākā were hanging out, waiting for the volunteers to arrive with their wheelbarrow of what looks like horse nuts, milk and juice.

The horse nuts go into metal boxes that only open when weight is placed on it, so only the kākā (which are reasonably large birds) can get in – although there were some cheeky blackbirds who would steal tidbits when the kākā opened it!

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Kākā standing on the ‘open food’ panel. ©Emma Hill

There was also a tube of a sugar mix with various vitamins in it, which the birds access by pressing on the bottom.

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©Emma Hill

We also caught glimpses of the gorgeous colours under their wings.

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©Emma Hill

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©Emma Hill

They’re beautiful, cheeky birds – and the inspiration for my Nut Hap colourway!

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