NZ: Day 4 – Zealandia

Day 4 was a rather cloudy, drizzly day. We planned to go to the nature reserve Zealandia today so the rain was not particularly welcome. Anyway, we headed out to catch the free shuttle bus to the park.

The bus stop near the tourist information centre has tentacles. (In honour of the colossal squid at Te Papa?)

Had brunch at the Rata Cafe at Zealandia first. It was raining quite heavily when we arrived anyway.

The cafe had a play pen for kids. I thought that was a nice touch.

The rain seemed to have ceased by the time we were done with brunch, so we decided to go in after all. It turned out to be pretty good timing because we were just in time to catch the guided tour.

This is a tui, a bird endemic to New Zealand.

I’m guessing this is a kawau tui, or little black shag.

The place is dotted with signboards like this one, indicating which kiwis live around the area. This signboard tells you that you’re entering the territory of two kiwis named Jackson and Fran. hahah

I thought this was funny. “Nothing to see here! No, really.” hahahahha

We managed to catch the takahe feeding session before the guided walk began.

This always fascinates me about first world countries: that people know how to keep a distance from animals without being explicitly told to do so. If this was in Malaysia or any other Asian country (excepting Japan and maybe South Korea), the people would be crowding round so close that the birds would run away in fright.

Takahe having lunch.

Guided walk begins, and first up is a stroll through the Research Area along Lake Road. This signboard at the gate is for people to note tuatara sightings. Tuatara like to bask in the sun there. Our guide warned us that it might not be a good day for seeing tuataras as it was still somewhat overcast and they might not be out of their hidey holes.

However, we did see a number of tuatara! Like this juvenile, for instance.

Then the sun came out, along with blue, blue skies.

I like walking through paths that are flanked and covered by trees like this.

Our guided walk ended at the kaka feeding station. Here’s a kaka waiting for feeding time.

Thirsty kaka.

Hungry kaka

Panoramic shot of the upper dam. (Here’s the map on the website, just for reference. We followed the recommended red route. Upper Dam will be at the top of the map.)

After making our way down from the dam (where it was so windy I was afraid my scarf and sunglasses would be blown away somewhere), we decided to see if we could catch the eel feeding. We could, and did. haha But the eels are apparently so happy with the fish they can catch themselves that they often feel no need to come out and take the food given by the staff. They only continue the feedings for the sake of education and exposure.

We were lucky enough to actually see an eel emerge for a while, although it retreated after a bit. The lady who brought the food said that it’s rare to see one because they’re more nocturnal, and they aren’t that hungry. Most times, she says, the feeding sessions are like talking about invisible eels because they stay hidden. hahah

Upon leaving, we noticed that they’ve updated the tuatara sighting list.

I wish we’d had the energy to take a night tour – it would’ve been cool to see kiwis. But it was still fun in the end. A good 3+ hours spent in there. We were tired after all that walking. haha

Got anything to add or say? :D