Gerrit van Rooyen
Wellington's Natural Beauty
In the previous two blogs, I’ve covered day trips from Wellington. While these are great if you have a whole day or two I realise that often when you are travelling you might not have that much time here in Wellington. So once you’ve done your golf tour, checked out Te Papa and walked about Cuba street and the waterfront and you’ve got half a day left where can you go to see pristine New Zealand wildlife? Luckily you’ve got plenty of options here in the capital city!
Here are my top three:
This conservation project is quite a feat and the results so far have been dramatic. This pest-free urban sanctuary is fully-fenced to keep out mammal intruders. Its optimistic vision is to restore the area to the ecosystem that was here before human’s first arrived. They have already restored 20 native species including some that have been extinct from the mainland for over 100 years!
One of these is perhaps New Zealand’s most unique species, the tuatara. If you are a fan of taxonomy, you probably already know why the tuatara is such an awesome relic from the past. If you don’t know, I’m sure you could learn all about it at Zealandia (or just take my word for it). But the fact is, seeing a tuatara out in the “wild” is something relatively new. They have only managed to survive on offshore islands since rodents were introduced because they are so susceptible to predators. So seeing them in the heart of Wellington is a real treat. I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing one sunning itself right off the main path! You’ll also see how much the Kaka is flourishing as these noisy parrots are just filling Zealandia to the brim. They also have a great indoor educational centre where you can learn all about the natural history of New Zealand.
Otari-Wilton’s Bush is another wonderful place to see wildlife, and it’s free! It’s not as heavily protected as Zealandia so it doesn’t have the abundance of animal species but you’ll find some of New Zealand’s favourite birds such as the Kereru and heaps of native trees and plants. If you want to explore the trails you’ll really be out in the native bush. I like to do the blue trail when I want to get my heart rate up or the slightly easier red trail which passes over rivers. If you just want to take it easy you can explore the various gardens located close to the main car park or do the main loop for an easy walk. There are plenty of picnic areas so pack a lunch! It’s easy to make a day of it or just visit for an hour.
I might be a bit biased on this one because I spend so much time here. It’s a dog-friendly park, so if you are missing your buddy back home it may be the place to get your pats in. If you’re not a fan of dogs, I’d avoid it, because there’s always plenty around running about off the lead. While this park may not that have the variety of native species of the other two, it’s still a lovely bush walk with several paths to explore. I do often see tuis there and other birds as well. At the bottom of the park is a nice flat walk along the river. Other paths are marked as tramping paths which are not as well-formed but really makes you feel like you’re away from it all. It’s not a massive park, so best for exploring for just an hour or two.
There’s just so much to see and do in Wellington but don’t feel like you can’t see New Zealand nature while you are here. We have beaches, bush, museums, and all the restaurants and city amenities you can dream of. It’s really a city that has it all! If you are still planning your trip, maybe set aside a few extra days for this city. Be sure to ask Steve for his recommendations on what to see as well when you book your tour as he will be happy to take you where you want to go.
Hope you all had a great weekend and enjoy this festive season wherever you might be!