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Wellington summer essentials with Zealandia's Kaitiaki Ranger

Find out what Zealandia's Kaitaki Ranger gets up to in Wellington during summer.


Aaria Dobson-Waitere has a deep aroha for the native flora and fauna of Aotearoa and shares her knowledge with locals and visitors through her mahi at Zealandia, the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary. Aaria has a background in conservation biology and mātauranga Māori and is a strong advocate of the role we all play as kaitiaki (caretakers) of taiao (the environment). When Aaria isn’t at Zealandia, you’ll find her exploring Wellington’s beaches, bays and islands.

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Wellington's South Coast

Ferry to an island

I’m often surprised at how many Wellingtonians haven’t made the short trip across the harbour to Matiu/Somes Island. It’s a predator-free reserve with a rich multicultural history and is home to native species like tuatara and kākāriki. If you stay the night, either in a tent or one of the houses, you might be lucky enough to see giant wētā or hear kororā (little blue penguins). Not many people realise but it’s a lovely place to swim, so don’t forget to pack your togs.

...or ferry to brunch

I grew up in Eastbourne and now that I live in the city, I love to catch the East by West Ferry back across the harbour for brunch at Sea Salt Café & Eatery at Days Bay. I can’t go past their creamy mushrooms topped with a perfectly poached egg – reka! Afterwards, I burn off brunch with a wharf jump and beach laze before heading back to the city.

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Days Bay at Eastbourne
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Matiu/Somes Island

Take a dive

Hire a snorkel from Island Bay Divers (The Parade) to check out all the marine life in the Taputeranga Marine Reserve on the South Coast. Spy giant pāua as you float on the surface and if you dive down and look hard enough in between the rock crevices you can spot kōura antennae. But my favourite is the octopus that imitates our beautiful seaweeds and the colourful nudibranchs that stand out against the pink crusted rocks.

Zealandia 4 image credit Rob Suisted
Urban ecosanctuary Zealandia

Zealandia is situated in an idyllic valley alive with native and rare wildlife just a 10-minute drive from the CBD. Find out more here