The best way to explore Zealandia is with a guide - they really know their stuff. The two-hour tours that depart four times a day are an ideal introduction, letting you soak up the scenery while guides track down even 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) - to name just a few.
If you’d rather explore Zealandia by yourself, start with the exhibition for background information and a 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 find with help from the guide on the visitor map. Dr Shanahan says "just be sure to take plenty of quiet stops for the best chance of spotting things — all the wildlife here is wild."
Returning in the evening for 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, ruru/owls and glowworms. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see a rare little spotted kiwi, and you’ll warm up with a cup of bushman’s tea made with native kawakawa.