Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne

Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest places in the world, the Zealandia urban ecosanctuary is a must-visit




53 Waiapu Road

Arrive in Wellington and you’ll be greeted with birdsong. Across the city, the sound of native birds can be heard thanks to some forward-thinking folk who created Zealandia, a pioneering sanctuary that’s turned back time on Wellington’s native environment.

The world’s first fully-fenced ecosanctuary, Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne is an incredible slice of wilderness. It's not what you’d expect to find a few minutes drive from the central city, but Wellington is all about the unexpected.

The best way to explore Zealandia is with a guide - they really know their stuff. You can soak up the scenery while guides track down some of the rarest wildlife. You could spot tuatara (prehistoric reptiles that have a real ‘third eye’), giant wētā that look like armoured grasshoppers, or kererū (a chunky native pigeon whose flapping wings sound like a helicopter in flight).

A night tour is an undeniably special experience. You’ll depart around dusk, explore the sanctuary by torchlight and spot creatures that only come out at night like cave wētā, , and glowworms. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see a rare little spotted kiwi.

If you’d rather explore Zealandia by yourself, general admission is available during the day. Grab a visitor map and then head out to walk the tracks. There are some bridges and a dam to cross, dozens of intersecting tracks to explore, and birds aplenty to spot or listen out for.

More than 140 rare little spotted kiwi live in Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne, and they can often be seen on night tours of the sanctuary.

New Zealand was once an isolated land. Native plants and birdlife flourished, including flightless kiwi. But with the arrival of humans came pests and predators, which left a lot of this wildlife extinct and many species endangered. Zealandia, a pest-proof "urban island" is the closest thing you’ll ever find to being in New Zealand before humans were here.

The ceaseless efforts of Zealandia staff and volunteers mean that New Zealand’s rare species thrive. The wider Wellington region benefits from a "halo effect" of this conservation effort. Bird populations are flourishing outside the fences too.

What Zealandia has achieved shows that cities don’t have to be places devoid of native wildlife. And by visiting the sanctuary, you’re doing your bit towards keeping this wildlife thriving for another generation.

Explore Zealandia at your own pace or be led by a guide.

Plan your visit

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