Early this afternoon Jack kindly gave us a ride up to the paddocks in the side-by-side so we could meander in the meadows and take pictures. It was a decidedly better day for pictures today too! Clouds passed above us, giving us some sunny moments and though the breeze blew, as it does just about every day here we think, it wasn’t too cold or strong.
Not really a zoo, but a wildlife sanctuary, originally called the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, now called “Zealandia”. Katy and Steve that we met on Friday gave rave reviews of the night tour they took the night before. We tried to book a night tour, touted to give you a possible glimpse of kiwi, but they were all booked up, so we settled for a dusk tour. So after our farm photo tour we got cleaned up, ate a quick dinner and headed the short winding drive down to Karori and Zealandia for our 7:15pm Dusk Tour! We arrived and along with 10 other guests on our tour (a limit of 12 per tour, so book early!) we stepped into the 500+ acre fenced sanctuary to see the sun setting behind the hills overlooking a reservoir.
Our tour guide explained the fencing system that keeps the introduced predator species like cats, dogs, weasels, stoats, rats, mice, possums, etc. OUT of the sanctuary. The native bird species that can fly are able to come and go from the sanctuary at their pleasure. The flightless birds, like kiwi and takahe and the reptile tuatara were introduced INTO the fenced sanctuary and have been thriving and reproducing. An interesting note is that before humans arrived in New Zealand about 1200 years ago the only land mammals were 2 species of small bats (marine mammals like seals and whales have been around the coast)! All other mammals have been brought intentionally or not into NZ!
There is a fenced area inside the fenced sanctuary that is a tuatara research area. I remember learning about ‘the tuatara, the living fossil with a third eye’ back in high school! I don’t remember that it is a species confined to New Zealand!
As it darkened we walked through a wetland, on boardwalks over a stream, as our guide pointed out with a red flashlight, tiny fish in the stream, insects bored into tree trunks, and weta that look like giant crickets. As it darkened further she pointed out glow worms under an embankment, and we heard, but did not see kiwi, just waking up for their nocturnal foraging!
We highly recommend Zealandia dusk and night tours! And your ticket allows you entrance the next day so you can check out the sanctuaries diurnal creatures!