Style: July 01, 2019


76 STYLE | travel



Gaynor Stanley follows capital trails to wild wine,

wild life and wild creativity.

Zealandia is the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary.

Image: Rob Suisted

I had smelled a kiwi – sweet and earthy – in the new

Te Taiao Nature exhibition at Te Papa. I had heard the

male’s high-pitched call across the dark native bush-clad

valley and the female’s low grunt in reply. And now I

was standing about 10 metres away from one on the

Zealandia By Night Tour. At least 140 kiwi are known to

be roaming predator-free in this remarkable urban wildlife

sanctuary, located just minutes from parliament in the

Karori Hills. The tail end of our group had seen one kiwi

scurry under a log earlier, but it was swallowed into the

undergrowth before I doubled back. Now the German

bird watcher, who’d also spotted a tuatara popping

its gnarly head out of its burrow earlier, the French


conservationists stopped in their tracks by criticallyendangered

takahe and paths illuminated by glow worms

(their romanticism dims when our guide Peregrine tell us

we’re entranced by fungus gnats) and most of my family

have the little spotted fella in their red torch beams. Alas,

despite my daughter’s excitedly whispered directions,

could I see the kiwi? Its camouflage and my night vision

defeat me. Still, I leave seriously impressed having learned

the female gives birth to the equivalent of a four-year-old

child and of Zealandia’s 500-year vision (they’re 20 years

in so far) to restore this fully-fenced 225-hectare valley to

the environment our rarest wildlife enjoyed before man

and introduced predators descended.

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