Zealandia Ecosanctuary, formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, is a wildlife sanctuary in suburban Wellington that is surrounded by an impressive 8.6km-long predator-proof fence. The 225ha (556 acre) sanctuary is a haven for native New Zealand wildlife, particularly birdlife with 40 different recorded species including the hihi (stitchbird), kaka, kererū (New Zealand pigeon), little spotted kiwi, morepork, tīeke (saddleback) and the tui, as well as reptiles including the tuatara and the Wellington green gecko.
General admission is valid for two days and lets you explore the 35km of scenic walking tracks at your own leisure. The Zealandia by Day and Zealandia by Night tours include the standard general admission in addition to a tour by an experienced guide who can point out the best of the sanctuary’s unique wildlife.
Zealandia by Day
This is a two-hour tour that gives you the opportunity to see wildlife that is active during daylight. During this tour you may see tuatara and weta as well as the following native bird species: hihi (stitchbird), kaka, kākāriki, kererū (New Zealand pigeon), takahē, tīeke (saddleback) and whitehead.
Zealandia by Night
This 2½-hour tour departs at dusk, after the sanctuary has closed to the general public, giving you the opportunity to see native wildlife that is more active at night. During this tour you can see glow-worms, Maud Island frog, New Zealand longfin eel, tuatara and weta as well as the following native bird species: brown teal, little spotted kiwi, kaka, morepork and takahē.
The highlight of this tour is the unique opportunity to see the most famous of New Zealand’s noctural birdlife, the kiwi. Although spotting a kiwi is not guaranteed, with 130 little spotted kiwi living in the park your chances are pretty high (around 80%). That makes this possibly the best place outside Stewart Island to see a kiwi in its native habitat.
While the daytime tours offer the best photo opportunities, it is the night tour that really lets you see some of the country’s unique birdlife like the little spotted kiwi and the morepork.