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Flightless birds soar at two of Wellington’s top attractions

30 Oct 2015

Wellington Zoo’s Kororā Little Blue Penguins will waddle their way into your affections in their new enclosure right in the heart of the coolest little capital in the world.

Zoo Image
Keeper Amanda Tiffin and Spud the Flemish Giant Rabbit during the opening weekend of Meet the Locals

Wellington Zoo’s Kororā Little Blue Penguins will waddle their way into your affections in their new enclosure right in the heart of the coolest little capital in the world.

The new Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha exhibit gets you up close to the wildlife by taking you through four habitats in one precinct – the coast, farm, bush and mountains.

It is home to a variety of animals including Kunekune pigs, bees, eels, Grand and Otago Skinks, Maud Island Frogs, sheep, as well as Kororā Little Blue Penguins. More than 5,000 visitors interacted with the animals over the opening Labour Day weekend.

Clever design features include a ‘geyser’ which sprays water into the air when a secret rock is pushed down, and a ‘worm tunnel’ for kids and the young at heart to view the wriggly critters.

Wellington Zoo Chief Executive Karen Fifield said Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha was “a celebration of our country, our animals and our people”.

“We’re re-opening a large part of the Zoo that visitors haven’t been able to access for some time, and we’re thrilled that we can do it with Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha.”

Minutes from the CBD, Zealandia also enjoyed a busy Labour Weekend with strong visitor numbers taking advantage of great weather to get in touch with nature.

But it’s their avian icon, the kiwi, which has overcome its shy reputation to become one of the stars of Zealandia Night Tours where visitors are almost guaranteed to see our national bird in the wild.

Peak season for Zealandia’s Night Tours starts in November, with torchlight-lit tours every night of the week. The good news for nature night-lifers is that you’re guaranteed to hear, and have a good chance of seeing one of the flightless birds in the wild.

Lead Ranger for Conservation, Matu Booth, says the impressive kiwi spotting success rate comes down to the skill of Zealandia’s tour guides.

“They know where kiwi like to hang out and what they like to do when they are active at night. The guides have become very adept at locating them, even on the darkest of nights.”

Zealandia is home to the largest population of little spotted kiwi on the mainland. More than 130 of the birds roam free within the safety of Zealandia’s sanctuary valley.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Chris Whelan says Zealandia and Wellington Zoo are two of the jewels in Wellington’s crown, but the city is also blessed with a glorious harbour, a green town belt and compact size.

“There is a heart of nature on the city’s doorstep which allows locals and visitors easy access to an outdoor lifestyle – whether that’s enjoying the solitude of a bush walk in the green belt, tackling a mountain bike trail, or taking in all that Zealandia and Wellington Zoo has to offer.”

Other Wellington urban nature experiences include Seal Coast Safari on the rugged south  coast, a Close Encounter with wildlife at Wellington Zoo, diving the F-69 Shipwreck off the southern coastline, and checking out the Matiu/Somes Island wilderness. Visitors can get to the island on the East by West Ferry.

 

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