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“This is why you come to New Zealand” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of ZEALANDIA Sanctuary

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Zealandia: The Exhibition and Sanctuary Valley
Ranked #5 of 224 things to do in Wellington
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: ZEALANDIA is a heaven of tropical bliss right on the doorstep of Wellington City. Affectionately referred to as a hidden gem ZEALANDIA received international acclaim for the groundbreaking predator free 8.6km fence. Since the completion of the fence in 1999 ZEALANDIA has brought a number of native birds, reptiles and wildlife back from the brink of extinction where they now roam freely through the 225 hectare valley. A visit to ZEALANDIA is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and a must for anyone visiting Wellington. There are a number treks to saunter, suitable for any fitness level. Alternatively step back in time with our interactive exhibition center or take a load off at the atmospheric Rata Café.
Useful Information: Stairs / elevator, Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Stroller parking, Activities for young children
Ithaca, New York
Level Contributor
82 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“This is why you come to New Zealand”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 24, 2012

Wow. I mean, just wow. This was an incredible experience, and one of the things that makes New Zealand unique. You can see kiwis and other endangered wildlife in zoos or other smaller places, like kiwi birdlife park in Queenstown. You can also get out and do a true wildnerness experience, like bird-watching on Stewart Island. Zealandia is somewhere in between those types of experiences, which makes it ideal for families with younger children. My wife and I would have loved to spend a couple of days camping on Stewart Island. Our kids? Not so much. The virtue of Zealandia is that it's real. It's not a zoo, but a working wildlife sanctuary that is intended to create a predator-free environment that restores, as much as possible, the conditions of pre-human-contact New Zealand so that flightless birds and other wildlife can flourish. It's integrated to some extent with the surrounding environment. Birds like kaka, tui and bellbirds come and go. Keeping predators out is a constant challenge for this reason, but they seem to be doing a good job with the fence.

I highly recommend taking a guided walk with a ranger. Our guide not only gave us a lot of information but showed us where to look. There are feeding stations set up where you're likely to encounter wildlife, but it helps to know where to look to see things like tuataras and wetas. My daughter spotted a tuatara, but wouldn't have seen it if our guide hadn't pointed out a spot where they like to hang out. A highlight of the visit was seeing the incredibly rare takahe, of which there are only about 250 remaining (if memory serves). Seeing kiwis requires going on a tour at night, which we didn't do, but as there are numerous kiwi within the sanctuary it would seem like pretty good odds of seeing one.

The park is an easy walk from the cable car stop in the Botanic Gardens, although there is a free shuttle that departs from the i-site downtown.

We ate lunch at the cafe after the visit and thought the food was decent and reasonably priced. If that doesn't suit, there are many more options within walking distance in the Kelburn neighborhood.

Visited April 2012
2 Thank BWfromIthaca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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New Plymouth, New Zealand
Level Contributor
124 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Really enjoyed this attraction”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 24, 2012

Very easy to walk around, lots to see. The Takahe were amazing, and great to see them walking around. They were also very friendly and came right up to you. A rare sight indeed. Also to see other such rare birds in a wild environment. We only went into the sanctuary so cant comment on the exhibiton.

Visited April 2012
1 Thank Rex S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Broulee, Australia
Level Contributor
46 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“See the tuatara...”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2012

This was a wonderful thing to do for the kids and the adults. Actually seeing tuatara and takahe was amazing.... an experience you cannot have like this anywhere else. The kids loved the glow worms in the old gold mine ( not my thing!! ) and it was good to get them out and walking around in the bush. We saw lots of different birds.

The informative show back at the centre was very good as well.

The only downside was the cafe. They were short staffed for a public holiday and could not cope with the number of people they were trying to serve. A picnic would have been a better option in one of the many picnic spots in the sanctuary.

Visited April 2012
1 Thank lovinthefreedom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
“Fantastic outdoor bush experience”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 18, 2012

Loved the kakas flying around, the sound of the bell-birds, seeing the Takohe, the information about the predator proof fencing (does it really work?!) Great being able to be so high above tree canopy on observation station. Good on a nice day!

Visited February 2012
Thank Jil C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wellington, New Zealand
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Too expensive!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 16, 2012

Expensive, boring outdoor wildlife. No definate times/days for boat leaving..."just when/if the driver turns up." Not enough rubbish bins around. Signs could be clearer.

Visited March 2012
2 Thank Odette61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lauren S, Public Relations Manager at ZEALANDIA Sanctuary, responded to this review, April 19, 2012
Thank you for providing feedback.

“Expensive”. “Boring outdoor wildlife”. I believe these two points could be related for you. When people are expecting a zoo-style experience they can be surprised by what they find at Zealandia. Unlike a zoo, our wildlife is essentially free. There is no roof on our sanctuary valley and the birdlife comes and goes as it pleases. We have a huge variety of native flora and fauna to enjoy, but you need to take the time to let it come to you, we run free guided tours and talks daily to help you with this. And yes, it is all native – no big cats or giraffes. But totally unique to New Zealand and remarkable in its own distinctive way and, we believe, worth bringing back from the brink of extinction.

Not everyone gets excited by tuatara, kākā, takahē, giant wētā or (if you join one of our night tours) kiwi. So that disappointment could translate into the view that we’re expensive. However, if you compare our prices to just about any other distinctive international visitor attraction in this country or beyond you’ll find we compare quite well. Some of our locals find our general admission prices a bit high if they want to visit us multiple times in a year, so we have a Frequent Flyer membership programme that makes multiple entry vastly more affordable for them.

Our electric boat is indeed weather dependent and skippered by volunteers, so we cannot guarantee that it’s always operating. But because of that it only costs a gold coin donation to enjoy when it is operating.

We intentionally have NO rubbish bins within the sanctuary valley. In keeping with our conservation and restoration mission we ask all visitors to take out what they bring in to the sanctuary.

“Signs could be clearer”. That’s something we continue to work on because we know that signage, contact with our rangers and provision of good information about us is an important part of making Zealandia a rich and rewarding experience for our visitors.

This response is part of that effort and we hope you and other readers find it helpful.

Thank you for visiting. Your admission fee goes toward supporting our 500-year restoration project.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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