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June 21st, 2013
In Quest of the Tuatara

We’ve visited Wellington several times and Zealandia before.(formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary) Last time our visit was during the winter and since we both really wanted to see a tuatara, we decided to try our luck again.

Zealandia is an inland island – sanctuary for some of our rarest native birds. The entire place is surrounded by a tall, pest-proof fence that keeps out wild cats, stoats, weasels, possums, rats and other introduced pests that decimate our native bird population.

The site was previously a water reservoir for the city, but since Wellington has grown it became unviable. There was also the problem of an earthquake hitting. The area was replanted with native trees and turned into a sanctuary.

Old Resevior

This is the old reservoir.

Native Duck

Native New Zealand duck – the scaup. It’s the smallest of our native ducks. The scaup is a diving duck and disappears for long moments under the water.

Takahe

This is a takahe, one of our flightless birds. It was thought to be extinct after 1898 but was rediscovered in 1948. There are two takahe at Zealandia – a pair – although they are infertile so are not adding to the low population. They eat tussocks, grass, shoots and insects.

Kakariki

This is the kakariki parakeet, one of NZ’s natives. They have become endangered due to loss of their natural habitat.

The day of our visit was warm and sunny – the perfect weather to tempt the tuataras out of their burrows. Tuatara are rare reptiles that are found only in New Zealand. I’d never seen one before since they mostly live on off shore islands and at a few sanctuaries.

We saw their burrows and finally, much to our excitement we spotted a tuatara!

Tuatara in Disguise

Tuatara

I still get excited whenever I think about seeing them. We watched them for ages, not that they do much except sit there soaking in the heat from the sun. It was a real privilege to see such a rare creature.

Is there any animal or bird that you would like to see in person?

4 comments to “In Quest of the Tuatara”

  1. I love animal pictures and you have some great ones here. If I had to pick an animal that id want to see in person it would be the capybara, which is the largest rodent in the world. Big surprise there, right? lol


  2. LOL – no surprise, no :)
    I hope you get to see a capybara one day.


  3. How beautiful…loved the photos. I’d love to see a timber wolf in the wild… they are so majestic:)


  4. Oh, me too! I was dying to see a wolf when we visited Yellowstone. We heard them calling, but didn’t see them. I hear they’re easier to spot during the winter.