We live really close to Zealandia (formerly known as the Karori Bird Sanctuary). As you can see from the picture below it's a mere stone's throw away. It's no wonder we have an abundance of tui and kaka gracing us with their presence regularly.
We'd grabbed a deal on Treat Me recently and Saturday was pretty much the perfect winter's day for our outing. Mild, sunny and calm, like this whole week has been. I've almost pinched myself every day to believe how good it has been given it's meant to be mid-winter! After dealing with a major plumbing emergency (and thank you to the Drain Doctor for the prompt call out which set us back $300), we were quite relieved to be able to head off to Zealandia for the afternoon.
Neither Mark or I had been in the new exhibition centre and it has been so wonderfully made. It makes you feel quite sad though at the extent to which the Maori and European settlers destroyed this beautiful land and the unique creatures that lived here. It's hard to know exactly how many species are now extinct due to the burning of the bush and the introduction of so many pests like rats and possums, and it is a sobering thought. All the more important that we have places like Zealandia to rekindle the hope of keeping our endangered species alive for future generations to come.
After the exhibition we embarked on the valley walk.
Walking along the lower reservoir (which is also part of Wellington's water supply), we could see the sun embracing the tips of the trees, just tantalisingly out of reach.
We enjoyed the beautiful reflections in the stillest water.
After stopping at the kaka feeding station and encountering a very knowledgeable volunteer who told us lots of very interesting facts about the birds we hear flying around our neighbourhood most days, we continued on up to the top dam and reservoir.
The views are lovely, even more so if you can find a handy daddy to hold you up to get a close-up view.
The sky was also pretty picture worthy on it's own!
We encountered this beautiful fern frond, poised and ready to unfurl.
And were surprised by our very own prehistoric insect, the weta, hiding inside a tree box. I'll never get over how nasty looking they are, and we are quite used to seeing them at our place, but they never fail to give me a fright!
The suspension bridge proved a good opportunity for some running and bouncing.
And falling too.
In this shot, you can just make out the line of the predator fence winding up the hill which is on the edge of the sanctuary. The fence has been so successful since it was completed in 1999 that Zealandia have managed to reintroduce a large number of species back into this beautiful wilderness.
Back at the lower lake, we spotted some pied shags.
It is amazing looking in one direction up the valley into the almost untouched hand of nature, when in the other direction, the city still beckons.
It's been three years since we were last here as a family, which is rather shameful given we live about five minutes walk away. But having enjoyed the afternoon so much, we may even contemplate an annual pass this year (instead of the zoo for a change), and we've already decided we must bring Mark's mum and dad here when they come in the summer.
I may not always love the weather this city dishes out, but right now I really feel blessed that we live in such a beautiful part of the world.