Zealandia is an amazing little jewel in the Capital of New Zealand.
If you’ve never been, here is one thing you should realize. New Zealand spent 80 million years without mammals. That means no cats, dogs, squirrels, and any other fluffy creature you can think of. Therefore, in Zealandia, you won’t find any creatures with fur. If you’re looking for that, go to the Wellington Zoo (which is also amazing). From a student studying Wildlife Biology with a focus on mammals, going to a place where all mammals (except two species of bats) are invasive, was like going to another planet.
On this planet, the birds are what captures everyone’s attention. I mean why else would the national symbol of New Zealand, be a bird? You’ve heard of the kiwi, well in New Zealand you have to be more specific and say the kiwi fruit because their national bird is also called a kiwi. This bird is incredibly unique with the shortest beak in the world. If you’ve seen pictures or in person, you’d be very confused, because in the bird world the beak is measured from how far the nostrils are from the tip of the beak. The kiwi bird has its nostrils on the tip, therefore, the shortest beak. In Zealandia, there are no kiwi because that area isn’t where you would find kiwis in the wild.
While still on the subject of kiwis, that is also what New Zealanders call themselves, kiwis. It becomes very confusing when differentiating between the multiple meanings of the word kiwi, especially in New Zealand. Alright, let’s try and get back to the topic, Zealandia.
Zealandia is filled with the native birds of the area and boy, are they beautiful. You have Takahē, a large, flightless bird once thought to be extinct. The Hihi, the Saddleback, the Kākā, a large parrot. The Kererū, the Tūī and seven other native species. Now I hadn’t researched much on these birds and I was reluctant to even go, because if I did, I would have no idea of what I would be looking for. That’s why I didn’t go till right before I left and I am really glad I did go. I went with three gentlemen who were in my Animal Diversity class at uni. Two are Kiwis and one is Danish who has lived in New Zealand for two years and all in biology. They were much more knowledgeable than I was and pointed out all the birds by listening to their calls. In fact, on the map, all the native species are listed and we saw them all! Including the Tuatara, Wellington Green Gecko and the Tree Wētā. The last one is shown by going into a cave and they are on the ceiling! I went in once and for 5 secs. I couldn’t go again. I saw and that’s enough.
Without the help of my fellow classmates I would not have enjoyed Zealandia as much as I did. Thank you Shaun, Dan, and Dan!