Wellington Travel Blog› entry 67 of 98 › view all entries
Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, known as the windy city. I caught the Interislander ferry across the Cook Straight from Picton on the South island to Wellington on the North. This three hour or so journey was quite tedious but the scenery going through Marlborough Sounds was pretty. I also bumped into Poul and Joe again on the ferry! As I had caught the train rather than take the bus I had managed to catch them up, so looks like i had company for the onward journey to Rotorua.
I set about exploring Wellington by foot. Lovely harbour, cafe culture, much more business-worldly than anywhere on the South Island. Many many more people here too and yes I guess pretty windy. This city for me had a great vibrancy and in my view is the most liveable of the cities I visited in NZ. Some parts of the city are very steep and hilly. I took the funny little cable car directly from inside a shopping centre (!) to the botanic gardens at the top and a lovely view across the city. From here I then walked for thirty minutes or so to the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, hoping to check out some more native NZ birds. This place was absolutely brilliant and well worth the trek to get there.
The sanctuary itself is based in a huge lush valley that felt appropriately like being in Jurassic Park! There are a number of different walks that you can take through the valley, which provides shelter away from introduced predators for a variety of rare, endangered and indigenous NZ wildlife.
Sadly, we humans are the main reason for so many native NZ species being under threat or even extinct. NZ was left isolated and untouched by man for millions of years and unique species of animals and plants evolved in the absence of any major predators. Since the first people arrived to NZ from the South Pacific, many species hunted for food such as the Moa, a large flightless bird hunted to extinction. Importantly, new predators were also introduced along with man such as rats, stoats, weasels and possums. The native wildlife was not adapted to cope with these predators, flightless birds are not capable of a quick getaway when necessary! Man had a truly devastating affect on the native NZ wildlife.
There is though some hope... Thankfully, we are now in a world that understands the need to preserve its natural heritage. One very encouraging story is regarding the Kakapo, another large flightless bird on the brink of extinction. If you have not seen the hilarious Stephen Fry ‘encounter’ with the rampant Kakapo you must see it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T1vfsHYiKY . The sight of one of the rarest birds in the world shagging some guy’s head is one of the funniest things I have ever seen! There are now only around 100 kakapo in the world. Early NZ settlers used to hunt the defenceless, flightless, a bit dumb maybe, kakapo for food and their habitat, the forests, were replaced with grazing lands for sheep!! If it were not for intervention of man the Kakapo may already be extinct.