It is a perfect winter’s day.
A day where the air is cool and crisp, the sky is blue as far as the eye can see and there is not a breath of wind.
Today I am off to Zealandia. A 225 hector, fully fenced sanctuary that’s home to a variety of native birds, reptiles and plants.
Within minutes of arriving, there are 2 things I become very aware of. The first being the stillness and silence. Not silence from noise altogether, the birds are rather loud. I am talking about silence from man made and city noises. There is something very energizing about being surrounded only by sounds of nature.
I am also aware of the variety of bird song I can hear. I have been in the bush many times where the birds are chattering away, but this is different. Being in the sanctuary, the variety of birds singing is awesome and the melody they produce together is wonderful.
Is this what it was like for our ancestors who first arrived to the shores of New Zealand? What a magical, untouched place it must have been.
Our walk begins along the lake. The water is so still and flat, creating some awesome mirror effects.
At the wetlands, we see a small group of shags. One is nesting, another is drying its wings in the sun.
I have put the zoom lens on my camera today. I am hoping to get some great bird shots. While taking photos of the shags, I notice how my zoom lens is dwarfed by the lenses on the camera’s next to me. I feel a bit embarrassed. One of the guys next to me joking tells me I will need to get a bit closer. (Any closer and I would be in the water!)
I am on this walk with Daniel today. He always likes to take the hardest, steepest routes. So up we go. He wants to see the upper dam. I am huffing and puffing away, but on the plus side, not as many people take these routes, so the peacefulness of the forest comes with us. When we reach the dam, we are rewarded with views across the canopy.
We see a number of different birds including piwakawaka (fantail), tieke (saddleback) and toutouwai (North Island robin) all or which were so hard to photograph, they move so quickly. This is the only photo I got that wasn’t just a big blur.
I did manage to get some good shots of the Kaka though (actually, Daniel did). A large brown parrot with orange under it’s wings. We saw several of these, they were quite easy to spot due to their size and the amount of noise they make hopping from branch to branch and gnawing on bark.
Next time I will be sure to check out the Tuatara Research Area. On warm sunny days you may see one basking on a rock, catching some rays. These ‘living fossil’ are relative of the dinosaurs and pretty unique looking.
Zealandia is a a nature lovers paradise. There is so much to explore, to see and to hear. I am grateful for places like this that allow us to get a glimpse of what untouched New Zealand might have been like.
There are many walks and routes you can take here. We only really scratched the surface of it, but even then, were rewarded with some beautiful forests and lots of birds.
Zealandia is currently free until the end of June. If you are local, I highly recommend checking it out. There is also a special on their year’s membership pass at the moment. For $50, I couldn’t resist.
Have you been to Zealandia before?