ZEALANDIA: The Karori Sanctuary Experience, Wellington

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 10 Reviews

Waiapu Road, Karori, Wellington 04 9209213

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  • T2 and Puffin, Zealandia's takahe
    T2 and Puffin, Zealandia's takahe
    by RogerW1nz
  • Zealandia
    Zealandia
    by kiwi
  • Sit down near such bird feeders for honeyeaters.
    Sit down near such bird feeders for...
    by Kakapo2
  • RogerW1nz's Profile Photo

    There be takahe there!

    by RogerW1nz Written Sep 30, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    T2 and Puffin, Zealandia's takahe

    Zealandia received two takahe birds in January 2011 from Mana Island, to add variety to the existing birdlife. Takahe are an endangered species, and in fact were thought to be extinct before a colony of them were discovered in Fiordland, South Island, in 1948. There are now around 250 birds in existence, thanks to a captive breeding programme in various parts of New Zealand.

    The two birds at Zealandia, T2 the male, and his mate Puffin, are too old to breed, and happily fossick within an arms-length of visitors.

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    • Zoo

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    Karori Sanctuary

    by kiwi Updated Nov 10, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pumphouse and Electric Boat
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    The Karori Wildlife Centre is a very impressive and pleasant “oasis” of nature so very close to the centre of the city. What seems like an entire valley of gorgeous bushclad hillsides, is fenced with a very special pest proof barrier, that measures 8.6km in length.
    You can find a woven network of trails, ranging from an easy stroll to a testing hike. Something for everyone. A 10 min walk or spend the day here exploring the hills.
    Originally dammed up to provide Wellington with a water supply, the two lakes now form part of the environment developed to preserve a natural area for some of our precious species.

    At the entrance you find a small shop with souvenirs, books and few other items all very interesting and topical. Tea, coffee and icecreams are available also. It was lovely to see families with children of mixed ages, here with picnics really enjoying the environment. It’s also possible to have birthday parties here, we saw one and I was really thrilled to see the children so interested in the wildlife. They bounded around some of the pathways with gusto and enthusiasm. This always breathes life into a park.

    Manned by an army of volunteers, this wildlife centre really is a credit to the dedicated people who make sure this area is preserved and that the wildlife are here for us all to see.

    - Open every day of the year, except Christmas Day.
    - 10am - 5pm.
    - Last entry at 4pm, Sanctuary closes 5pm.

    Exhibition and Santuary are both individually:
    = Adults $18.50 *updated Nov 2011*
    = Children $9.00
    = Family $46.00 (2x adults and 3x children)

    Exhibition and Santuary together as a package:
    =Adults $28.50
    =Children $14.50
    =Family $71.50 (2x adults and 3x children)

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Eco-Tourism

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  • Kate-Me's Profile Photo

    Karori - Try and spot the birds

    by Kate-Me Written Nov 22, 2009
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    It's a great (fenced) conservation park and I really like what they've done, but because it's 'open air' and very forested, there's no guarantee you'll see many different species of bird at all. Your best bet is the Kaka, as they have several feeding stations where they can come and suck nectar from a bottle or help themselves to seed at a feeder, and being greedy, that's what they do a lot of the time.

    Plenty of Tuis too, and blackbirds (but they're everywhere).

    A bit disappointing for us, as we read a lot (and listened to the bird sounds) on their website. Maybe if we'd sat in the forest for ages and just waited, we might have had more luck, but as it was, we only had a couple of hours. The walk itself is very pretty.

    Attention: November 2009: they're building a huge new visitors centre, and there's not much (if any) signage, just a heap of construction. The closest carpark is closed, but the attraction is still open. I recommend getting there 10 am when it opens to have a chance at a car park....as it's on the side of a mountain, there's not a lot when the carpark that's left fills up.

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    (2) - Lakes and Walkways

    by Kakapo2 Updated Oct 1, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The picturesque valve tower on the Lower Lake.

    We tried to stay away from groups on our exploration tour, as they sometimes create an atmosphere of unrest which birds do not find very appealing, and the further we walked away from the entrance and the lake, the less people we met.

    Inside the 8.6 km long fence there are more than 34 km of tracks you can walk on, some wide, some narrow, some flat, some steep. You get a map at the visitor centre, and the colours of the tracks show you which fitness level is required. The map also shows you the location of bird feeders where the honeyeaters use to feed.

    Next to the entrance is a heritage area, at the Lower Lake (Roto Kawau). A picturesque valve tower from 1873 is sitting in the lake. From there you can take a scenic trip on an electric boat – but it only operates in peak visitor periods, and to be frank, you do not really need it, and it is overpriced for the some minutes it takes to cross the lake.

    Further up in the valley is a smaller lake, the – surprise, surprise! – Upper Lake (Roto Mahanga).

    You can easily spend a whole day in the sanctuary and should allow at least three to four hours.

    An interesting track is the Faultline Track. It really runs along one of the five fault lines that make Wellington a very shaky city.

    Guided tours are available:
    Introduction tour, 1 hour, daily at 11am, fee $ 28
    Escape tour, 2 hours, daily from Sep – April, start 3.5 hours before sunset, transport available, booking required, fee $ 55
    Night tour, 2 hours, daily, starts 30 min before sunset, transport available, fee $ 60.

    Booking phone (04) 920 9213

    Update 1 October 2008 due to extreme price rise for tours (from NZ$ 20 to 28/40 to 55/45 to 60)

    Part 1: Paradise behind a long fence
    Part 3: How to find and identify the birds
    Part 4: Bird species of the sanctuary

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo

    (1) - A Paradise behind an 8.5 km long Fence

    by Kakapo2 Updated Oct 1, 2008

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    The part of the fence you see from the entrance.
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    Being a bird lover, this bird paradise will always be one of the main reasons for me to visit Wellington. It is only a short bus trip from the city centre, and then a walk of about 500 metres to the entrance of the sanctuary.

    And it is paradise!

    A 1.8 metre high fence, completed in 1999, surrounds the 225 hectare conservation area, at a total length of 8.5 kilometres. It protects the wildlife – which comprises tuatara and weta (a huge invertebrate), not only birds – from introduced mammals, so the wildlife can thrive. If you walk a lot and are patient you will be able to spot many different bird species.

    Be aware: This is not a wildlife park where every bird has its enclosure and viewing is guaranteed. You are in the wild, and only if you behave bird-friendly by not chatting loudly about your latest shopping spree or the kids’ digestion problems, and if the birds are in the right mood, you will see them. You can sit on benches near feeding stations and wait until the birds show up.

    In some areas volunteers walk around and inform visitors about places where they have seen certain birds, or a tuatara taking a sunbath. There are even information boards where they note the latest sightings of tuatara. Without this volunteers system we would probably have missed the tuatara. Weta spotting is easier, as there are some so-called Weta Hotels – tree trunks with little doors which you can open and check if a weta sits inside the trunk, behind a glass panel. The chance is good, as wetas are nocturnal and sleep in the hotels during the day.

    The Karori Sanctuary is a world-first conservation project, conserving and regenerating native bush in the city, a so-called “mainland island” where destructive mammals have been eradicated. To keep this state, you have to control your bags at the entrance. Obviously it has already happened that mice had hidden in far-travelled backpacks.

    15 endangered species that had only survived on off-shore islands have been reintroduced to the area. Although the efforts of reforestation and reintroduction of the original wildlife it will take another incredible 500 years until the valley will be in the state it was before humans arrived in New Zealand.

    Open daily (except Christmas Day) 10am – 5pm, admission $ 14.

    Part 2: The lakes and walkways
    Part 3: How to find and identify the birds
    Part 4: Bird species of the sanctuary

    On photo 2 you can see how high different kinds of animals can jump and why the fence has to be 1.8 metres high.

    On photo 3 you see a tuatara - a kind of living fossil - taking a sunbath in the Karori Sanctuary.

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    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo

    (4) – The Bird Species

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 16, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Stitchbird in the Karori Sanctuary.

    Before the establishment of the fence in 1999 and the eradication of pest mammals a year later there were only twelve native bird species reported in the area, and there were not lots of them. Introduced birds like sparrows, blackbirds, and starlings were the most common birds.

    Now you will find more than 30 species present in the area, some of them released, and some found the Sanctuary on their own. Inside the Sanctuary we did not spot any of those introduced species, such dense forest is just not their kind of territory. Just around the entrance area you might see chaffinches and their relatives.

    Releases include the Brown Teal, an extremely rare duck. Karori also is the only place in New Zealand where you can experience the Little Spotted Kiwi and the Hihi (Stitchbird) in their natural habitat on the mainland. Plus the Tuatara, the world’s oldest reptile (in the Research Area along Lake Road), the Maud Island Frog, and the Cook Strait Giant Weta.

    Some of the birds you might see:

    North Island Saddleback (tieke; Philesturnus carunculatus rufusater)
    North Island Kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis)
    North Island Weka (Gallirallus australis greyi)
    North Island Robin (toutouwai; Petroica australis longipes)
    Whitehead (popokatea; Mohoua albicilla)
    Bellbird (korimako; Anthornis melanura)
    Tomtit (miromiro; Petroica macrocephala toitoi)
    New Zealand Woodpigeon (kereru; Hemiphaga novaseelandiae)
    Brown Teal (pateke; Anas chlorotis)
    New Zealand Scaup (papango; Aythya novaseelandiae)
    Little Spotted Kiwi (kiwi-pukupuku; Apteryx owenii)
    Tui (Prothemadera novaseelandiae)
    Fantail (piwakawaka; Rhipidura fuliginosa)
    Grey Warbler (riroriro; Gerygone igata)
    Stitchbird (hihi; Notiomystis cincta)
    Spotted Shag

    See more photos of the birds I photographed in the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in my personal album for Allison on my homepage :-)

    Part 1: Paradise behind a long fence
    Part 2: The lakes and walkways
    Part 3: How to find and identify the birds

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Birdwatching

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo

    (3) - Find and Identify the Birds

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 16, 2008

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    Look on the track: Robins search insects there.
    2 more images

    If you do not know a lot about New Zealand’s birds but are interested to learn more about them, the Sanctuary can be a rewarding experience, even if you do not go on a guided tour. But you have to follow some rules, and you have some good tools to identify the birds you might spot.

    1.) Get this great brochure named “Did you see that?” It costs $ 1, and has photos of most birds that have habitats in the sanctuary, plus a description of their looks and song.

    2.) Stop at the Birdsong Gully, located about 200 metres up the Lake Road (Lower Lake). You can press buttons, and the song of several bird species resounds from the bush. Try to remember as many songs as possible, and you might identify some of the birds only from their song.

    3.) Walk quietly, keep chat to a minimum. Listen for rustling and calls in the trees – and look to the ground from time to time. Robins tend to suddenly sit right in front of your feet, to check out the leaf litter for insects. They do not mind you chatting to them. I also made the experience that tuis do not stop singing when I talk to them, as do fantails and tomtits.

    4.) Stop and stay still for some minutes from time to time, and listen and watch what happens around you. Sit down at the benches near the bird feeders (sugar water) which are provided for honeyeaters (bellbird, stitchbird).

    5.) Choose the right time. Early morning (would be even better before 10am when the sanctuary opens) and late afternoon are the best times, and the birds are very busy before the breeding season in winter/early spring. However, we were there in summer, and spotted nearly all species.

    6.) Go on a night tour if you want to have a chance to see the Little Spotted Kiwi. At least, there is a good chance of hearing their calls.


    Part 1: Paradise behind a long fence
    Part 2: The lakes and walkways
    Part 4: Bird species of the sanctuary

    Photo 2: Canopy screening.

    Photo 3: A bird feeder for honeyeaters. Stitchbirds and bellbirds fly in frequently to feed on sugarwater.

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    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism

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  • kiwi78's Profile Photo

    Visit Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

    by kiwi78 Written Jun 9, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Karori Sanctuary is a "mainland island" an area which is fenced off and kept free of predators to allow NZ's native birds a chance to flourish. Our birds are particulary susceptible to introducted predators such as cats, stoats, weasels (and other mustelids), possums and so on as they evolved without predators and many are flightless and spend their lives (such as the kiwi) or long periods on the forest floor or lay their eggs there. There are lots of different bush walks in the sanctuary, ranging from paved easy for wheelchairs or pushchairs to steeper hiking trails. There are lots of interpretive signs and things to do around the main part of the sanctuary near the information centre. I highly recommend getting away from this area as though you still have a good chance of seeing birds, small children running around yelling 'mummy, why aren't there any birds?' tend to lower your chances. We saw kaka, hihi (stichbird), grey warblers, saddleback among others.

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    • Eco-Tourism

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  • cehansen's Profile Photo

    Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

    by cehansen Written Jun 18, 2005

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    An oasis of bush and calm right in the middle of the city. The sanctuary has been developed to allow native birds to make their home in a predator free environment. There are several walking trails around the area taking from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and you get to see a range of native birds. (You can get guided tours too). We had a robin land on the path in front of us and it wasn't afraid at all. Another time we saw Kaka (?) I think.
    Well worth a visit.

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    • Birdwatching

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  • wkcsmt's Profile Photo

    Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

    by wkcsmt Updated Feb 23, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is a great place for visitors of all ages to experience & learn from the precious natural heritage in an easily accessible location. This is a a world-first conservation project where a unique protected natural area is being restored. This 252ha of native forest filled with rare & endangered NZ wildlife (kiwi, saddleback, kaka, weka... etc.) is only 2km from the city centre. The Sanctuary also offers some guided tours:
    • Sanctuary Introduction (NZD$15 per aldult)
    • Sanctuary Escape (NZD$40 per aldult)
    • Sanctuary by Night (NZD$45 per adult)

    The Sanctuary opens daily, except on Christmas Day. Last tickets sold 1 hour prior to closing time.
    Summer (December -March)
    10am-5pm Mondays to Fridays
    10am-5pm Saturdays, Sundays & public holidays

    Winter (April - November)
    10am-4pm Mondays to Fridays
    10am-5pm Saturdays, Sundays & public holidays

    Prices:
    NZD$8 Adults
    NZD$4 Children
    NZD$20 Family (2 adults + 3 children)

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Eco-Tourism

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