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New Zealand’s natural biodiversity is wonderfully unique in the world, but like many ecosystems across the globe, much of it is under threat. Fortunately, there are many passionate people all over the country working hard to preserve the natural taonga. Many of them also share their stories and experiences with guests.
Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne is a fully-fenced 225-hectare ecosanctuary that protects rare native wildlife species. Just a short distance from the Wellington CBD, Zealandia’s small Karori valley is thought to be the most biodiversity-rich square mile of mainland New Zealand.
Over forty different species of native birds have been recorded within the predator-fences, twenty-four of them being found in no other country. In addition dozens of reptile species, hundreds of plant species and thousands of kinds of invertebrates call the sanctuary home. The result is a boost for the biodiversity of the greater region; birds such as the tūī, kākā and kererū – once extremely rare in the region – are now common sights around central Wellington.
While a zoo might feel like a more traditional tourist destination, there’s more to Wellington Zoo than meets the eye. The Nest Te Kōhanga is their award-winning animal hospital and centre for native wildlife. Since opening, they’ve treated over 5,000 sick and injured native wildlife patients. The facility consists of seven rehabilitation rooms, a custom-built salt water pool, and state-of-the-art equipment.
In addition the zoo supports the West Coast Penguin Trust, which works to save the nationally endangered tawaki fiordland crested penguin and kororā little blue penguin, as well as their habitats on the West Coast and around Aotearoa New Zealand.
They’re also supporting The Department of Conservation to help monitor the Wellington green and ngahere geckos on Matiu Somes Island. Zoo staff regularly survey the island to collect data.
Down in Akaroa, Pohatu Penguins is a family-run business with a long history of protecting the kororā (little penguin) in Pohatu bay. Through predator trapping, monitoring, and rehabilitation, what was once a struggling colony has stabilised and grown to become the largest colony of little penguins on mainland Aotearoa New Zealand. The couple has won many awards for their work in penguin and habitat conservation and also helped found the award-winning Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust and Wildside Project. The latter is a large-scale collaboration of landowners with local and national government bodies to preserve and protect a variety of endemic, threatened, and iconic species. It covers 13,500ha on the Banks Peninsula and focuses on habitat protection, using over 700 predator traps to control feral cats, ferrets, stoats, weasels, and possums in this area.
Imagery: Redwoods Treewalk