Zealandia: Part Two

And we’re back! After taking in the lush vistas from the viewing platform, Andy and I journeyed deeper into Zealandia. You could spend hours exploring all the tracks, but most people tend to stick closer to the entrance. That meant we didn’t encounter too many people further out, which is great when you’re looking out for birds.

Before long, we came across a toutouwai, more commonly known as the North Island robin.


What a cute little guy/gal. The males and females resemble each other more than they do with other species, so I’m not sure the sex of this one.


As Andy mentioned to me on our hike, they’re attracted to the areas where humans are. This isn’t because they particularly like us, but rather because they’re looking for the bugs that we uncover with our feet as we shuffle along the trail. It certainly makes it easier to get photos of them, so I’d say it works well for both species.


Some of these shots are a tad bit grainy due to the high ISO needed in the semi-dark forest. However, I’m pretty happy with them overall, and practice never hurts. I’m far more used to landscape shots, so it’s fun to explore other types of photography.


The robins certainly seemed to be willing subjects, and they stayed still for much longer than the other birds did.

Just to change it up from the Robin Show, here’s a female hihi (stitchbird) that we caught at one of the feeders.


Not to be slighted, another robin was ready for its closeup.



And then another one showed up!


Both of these were marked, whereas the first one wasn’t.

For those of you who aren’t too interested in birds (if you’re still reading), here are some shots of the lovely upper dam in Zealandia. What a beautiful spot!



Here’s the view looking down the dam towards the lower sanctuary.


And looking toward the upper reservoir above the dam…


Dam gorgeous, if I do say so myself!


We continued back toward the entrance along the opposite side of the lower reservoir.


Before long, we came across some kakas in the trees just off the path. Kakas are native NZ parrots and can be seen in many places around the country. We have some that frequent our backyard since they love the walnut tree. Higgs definitely does not love them, and he returns their loud calls with incessant barking.

These ones didn’t have to worry about any Vallhunds and were quite relaxed.




They truly are beautiful birds.


If you thought the only wildlife in Zealandia was of the avian variety, you’re in for a surprise.

We came upon the tuatara habitat next. These native reptiles can grow up to 31 inches in length (80 cm) and weigh up to 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg). This was my first time seeing them, and luckily I had Andy there to point them out. They’re experts at blending in .



In addition to being some really badass reptiles, tuatara also lend their name to a good brewery here. Their bottles of beer even come with reptilian ridges and a cap that resembles a tuatara’s eye (or Sauron’s, in my opinion).



Anyway, back to Zealandia!

Before leaving, we made a quick visit to the 19th Century goldmine inside the sanctuary. Its exact location was forgotten for quite some time until it was rediscovered when Zealandia opened. Of course, the gold was long ago depleted. It was very tight, but we got to see some cool cave wetas (large insects that Peter Jackson named his Weta Studios after).

Coming down from the mine, we got a great view out over the lower reservoir, with Karori and Tinakori Hill in the background. You can even make out Mount Kaukau in the distance.


I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Zealandia, and it was awesome to have a boyfriend along who doubled as a guide. Thanks, Andy!

I hope you enjoyed this brief foray into the native wildlife of New Zealand. Hopefully, there will be some more bird shots in the future.

Up next, Emma and I take on the Rimutaka Rail Trail.

2 thoughts on “Zealandia: Part Two

  1. What a great post! I loved all the critter pix, and especially liked that you identified your subjects. The photography was impressive. Such clear close-ups made me appreciate those whose job it is to successfully band those teeny tiny bird legs. The icing on the cake was the beer – smart to include that. I’d never want to get rid of those bottles and caps, they’re so cool. Thank bird-man Andy for me; his role in this does not go unappreciated. 🙂


  2. Well, Mom pretty much summed it all up. So ditto all that. Very impressive pictures with great detail, even looking at this on my phone. Have I said this before? I want to go there.


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