New Zealand struggles with protecting indigenous flora and fauna. There are many species that have become extinct due to invasive plants and mammals. In fact, NZ has only one native mammal, the bat. Near Wellington is Zealandia, a sanctuary of native forest and lakes. About the size of Manhattan, Zealandia is completely encased in a perimeter fence that excludes all introduced predators which have been eradicated within the borders. Traps are set throughout the preserve simply to monitor the possibility of predators. When asked about captures, our guide said, “None have ever been trapped. If that happened there would be complete panic and breakdown.” We hiked for about 2 hours observing mostly birds and flora. The most interesting were the giant parrots, kakas. They are not as vividly colorful as the South American, but have a more subtle feather display. Zealandia is located on a high hill near an area that was developed in the early 1900s for expensive homes. A cable car system was built to accommodate those living there with easy access to the town center. After our Zealandia hike and the mandatory morning tea, we rode the Wellington Cable Car down to the city center. The ride gave us an excellent view of Wellington Harbour and its hilly backdrop. It reminded me of our cable car rides in Lisbon.
Te Papa Tongarewa Museum
This afternoon we walked to Te Papa Tongarewa: National Museum of New Zealand. We had a docent led tour that introduced us to the key displays of Mauri. Our docent was a Mauri, who added her personal experiences to the explanations of sculpture and houses. One section of the Museum has a modern interpretation of the meeting house. Mauri actually use the space for ceremony. Also, at the museum was an exhibit, Gallipoli, illustrating the battle with tripled life size sculptures of soldiers as well as video and text.
Tonight is our last night in New Zealand; tomorrow we fly to Sydney, Australia. After dinner each person in the group told of there best experience/memory and offered suggestions for Road Scholar to consider. Pictures at flickr.