Monday, January 25, 2010

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

Today was my first visit to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.  This, despite having lived in Wellington for five years (in three stints) - including one year in Karori in which I drove past the turn-off everyday.  One of my friends I'd dragged along, a Wellingtonian from birth, got a text from his mother asking where he was, her reply when she found out: Why would you want to go there?

Well, for those who've vowed to find out more about native flora and fauna (and dedicate a month to such topics in their blog...) it's like a candy store.  The brochure I picked up when paying ($15 for adults, quite steep when you consider the ever-growing appropriation the council seems to be dishing out... maybe a discount for rate-payers is in order?) lists the following regular inhabitants:
  • Tieke (Saddleback)
  • Kaka
  • Weka
  • Toutouwai (North Island Robin)
  • Popokatea (Whitehead)
  • Bellbird (Korimako)
  • Tomtit (Miromiro)
  • Kereru
  • Pateke (Brown Teal)
  • Papango (NZ Scaup)
  • Shags
  • Little spotted Kiwi
  • Tui
  • Piwakawaka (Fantail)
  • Riroriro (Grey Warbler)
  • Hihi (Stitchbird)
  • Tuatara

[Papango / New Zealand Scuap]

A quick tally reveals I saw ten out of these sixteen.  Not bad.  We were in a group, so the noise and the fact it's harder to stop and wait for the birds to come to you means ten species is decent.  We also saw a few types of shag...

[Pied Shags]

But even if you haven't 'gone native', it's still a pretty amazing place.  The sanctuary was established in 1995 and has a -- deep-breath -- five-hundred year vision "to restore a corner of mainland New Zealand as closely as possible to the way it was ‘the day before humans arrived'."  In fifteen years short years, it's achieved a lot.  One minute up the path from the information centre (soon to be usurped by newer, flasher, one) and it's hard to believe you are only minutes from the CBD of the capital city of a country most still reckon is 'first world'.  It's not quite 'the day before humans arrived' (I don't think there would have been asphalt paths and information panels...) but it's pretty freaking cool to look to the side of the path and see that thing moving beneath the ferns is a tuatara.  It's not quite Arthur Conan Doyle's or Michael Crichton's vision of The Lost World, but this, my friends, is a dinosaur:

The bird-song was louder and more varied than on Kapiti Island, which surprised me, but we ended up seeing less birds in Karori. Maybe it's all the kids that were around (it was Wellington Anniversary Day today). But we did have two Tieke come to within about a metre (closer than on Kapiti) and I managed to grab a semi-still photo of a Popokatea:

And of course, the North Island Robins, with their "inquisitive and confiding nature" (sanctuary brochure), were the most photogenic of our feathered friends:

There are tons of trails within the 225 hectares, and I'm keen to head back in a couple of months when my botanical knowledge has caught up to my knowledge of birds and wander wider, and slower.  It's only around the corner, after all.

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