Heather Hapeta lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand: real travel, real adventures, real stories, real photos. Recent destinations Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Hong Kong – now NZ destinations due to COVID travel restrictions
Zealandia is a sanctuary with a difference: it has a vision for 500 years – its goal, to restore this Wellington valley to its pre- human state. It’s twenty years into the plan!
Only minutes from the centre of New Zealand’s capital, and parliament buildings, it’s a great place to spend a few hours, a day or, take an evening guided walk to check out New Zealand wildlife flora and fauna. I spent a couple of hours there 2 days ago and here just a few of the many photos I took. (search in this blog for other Zealandia posts I’ve written)
Zealandia’s latest enhancements and revised price structure, available from tomorrow, 18th October 2013, have been designed so that a greater number of Wellingtonians can visit the eco-sanctuary, and benefit from the unique opportunity to engage with nature in the heart of the city.
General Admission has been reduced significantly. Adult entry, previously $28.50 for entry to the valley and exhibition, is now $17.50 and Family Admission has dropped from $71.50 to $44 (two adults and up to three children). A new “come back tomorrow” system will include a complimentary next day return, allowing visitors to explore the many experiences available even when their time in Wellington is limited. Membership remains a great way for locals to support conservation and connect with Zealandia’s activities and now Zealandia’s members have more advocacy power, bringing up to five friends for half price on any day visit, as well as enjoying their existing discounts and privileges.
Denise Church, Chair of Karori Sanctuary Trust’s Board, explained the reason and timing for the change.
“Our conservation successes are widely recognised, from growing kiwi populations to the kākā which range widely over Wellington and our work with communities and schools in the halo project. But we’ve heard the feedback that, for some, our pricing was a barrier to visiting. We undertook research to explore what the right price would be and consulted with a number of Zealandia’s stakeholders. We’ve needed to think carefully about the balance between accessibility and meeting our obligations to generate a significant proportion of what it takes to run the sanctuary’s restoration, education, research and visitor experience operations. All our revenue goes to sustaining these critical activities.
“The formation of an Enhanced Partnership with Wellington City Council created the conditions needed for us to make these changes and we are grateful for Council’s funding support. Council recognised that Zealandia plays a key role in bringing birdsong back to our living city and that the benefits delivered to Wellingtonians are significant and wide ranging.
“With increased visitation from locals we hope to make an even bigger difference as part of Wellington’s natural capital, giving more people the chance to experience the natural benefits of our native flora and fauna and to support conservation action in Wellington.”
All General Admissions will now include entry to all parts of the Zealandia experience: the valley, exhibition, and tours and talks. Peter Monk, Visitor Experience Manager, explained “The exhibition is a vital part of our storytelling, helping to crystallise what visitors learn in the valley and put it in context. Our continent, Zealandia, is 80 million years old and our catastrophic loss of biodiversity and world-renowned conservation efforts are compelling stories that we can share, empowering people with the knowledge they need to make a difference. We want all visitors to have easy access to these powerful stories.
“Customers consistently comment that engaging with Guides as part of General Admission is key to the richness of a Zealandia experience. So, we’ve increased the number and variety of tours and talks to share more knowledge, tell more stories and enhance the sense of wonder and discovery for visitors of all ages. We’ll also roll out a series of new special activities and themed tours, starting with Kākā Week on 17 November, adding to our popular pre-booked guided tours such as Zealandia By Night. Two new tour products commence in December but are available to book now: Breakfast, Bubbles and Birdsong, and Walk the Wild Side.”
Raewyn Empson, Conservation Manager, described how the sanctuary offers a great deal more than a pleasant bush walk.
“Rare and endangered species are flourishing here, many of which have returned to the mainland for the first time in hundreds of years. Although our kākā range over the city, it’s only at the sanctuary you’ll encounter the unique combination of sights and sounds that includes takahē, tuatara, robins, saddlebacks, hihi and lots more. These species are living wild just ten minutes from the city, it’s incredible. We have an extraordinary living laboratory, with researchers developing knowledge that will benefit biodiversity throughout New Zealand. We’re doing what we can to turn the tide of extinctions on our unique natural heritage, providing a safe breeding habitat, enabling research, education and inspiring others to get involved”.
Church urged people to take a fresh look at Zealandia.
“The most common feedback we receive from people who come after a few years away is how much the place has changed – how much more bird life, things to do and see, fascinating and informative tours and of course the excellent exhibition and Rata Café. With fifteen years of restoration efforts behind us, the valley has a more established feel to it now and we hope you’ll come and see for yourself the progress made by our community of over 450 volunteers, committed staff and key partners such as the City Council and Victoria University of Wellington.”