Zealandia is an almost submerged continental fragment of New Zealand that sank after breaking away from Australia millions of years ago. The other Zealandia is an ecological experiment where wildlife and plant life unique to New Zealand is being introduced and nurtured in their natural habitats.
At the eco sanctuary rare species live in one square mile of regenerated forest, protected by specially designed pest proof fencing. 32 km of tracks take visitors around the facility to get acquainted with the lives and habits of 40 different species of birds 24 of them endemic, geckos, frogs and skinks, the tuatara a reptilian living fossil and a range of wetas including the giant weta one of the biggest and heaviest insects in the world only found in New Zealand. The sanctuary’s freshwater lakes stock native fish species including the banded koko pu, the koura and the lonfin eel. With the exclusion of pests, native tree species like the silver fern, the black tree fern, the pepper tree, the world’s most southern palm trees and the biggest fuchsias are among a host of native plants here. Additionally ever greens, flowering shrubs, broad leafed forest species and wetland species can be found in the lush regenerated forest.
A visit to Zealandia will not only acquaint visitors with New Zealand’s endemic flora and fauna but the environment thousands of years ago and the changes wrought over the past few hundred years that have drastically changed it. Information on the conservation measures being implemented to arrest further environmental decline is also disseminated.
Walk and Talk tours, species talks and boat rides enable learning more about the sanctuary’s denizens. On night tours, guided torchlight walks show spotted kiwi and other nocturnal creatures doing their thing and evening bird calls long absent from the mainland are also heard again.
Zealandia’s conservation and ecological restoration programme has received much international acclaim. Major breakthroughs have been achieved in conservation of native flora and fauna using techniques that had not been attempted before. Among the successes of the sanctuary are keeping out 13 species of mammal pests with a specially designed fence and reintroducing over 40 locally or nationally threatened plant and animal species back into the wild.
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Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.