Getting Wild for Open Weekend!
ZEALANDIA opens its doors for donations
ZEALANDIA’s recent open weekend, held on 5-6 May, attracted a total of 6,188 visitors to the valley – with over 4,000 of these taking advantage of beautiful weather to visit on the Sunday.
The open weekend, held annually, is when ZEALANDIA opens its gates to the people of Wellington for a donation of $2 – our way of thanking the people of Wellington for their continued support, and an opportunity to share our sanctuary with people who may have never visited before.
Welcoming so many people to the valley is a huge exercise, with staff, volunteers, board members and youth ambassadors all pitching in to help on a wide range of tasks that included welcoming visitors and collecting donations, ensuring our strict bio-security measures were maintained, and providing information to visitors in the valley.
The open day was particularly popular with young families, many of whom said they were visiting for the first time, while others hadn’t visited the valley for many years. It was great to hear how much they enjoyed themselves – ‘that was awesome’, ‘we had such a lovely time’ were just some of the comments visitors made on their way out. Many visitors said that they would be back to explore the valley further, and would take the time to walk some of the more far-flung tracks.
Going on the boat was a highlight for many people on the Sunday, particularly for children (unfortunately weather conditions meant that it wasn’t able to operate on the Saturday). Visitors also enjoyed seeing the tuatara, trying to spot the geckos in the pen on the Round Lawn, and looking at the wētā in the wētā motels. Despite the crowds, there was plenty of wildlife in the valley - several people said they were excited to have seen tīeke (saddleback) along the Lake Road, and for a while on the Sunday there was even a ruru (morepork) out in broad daylight sitting on a tree branch above the tuatara enclosure. Other highlights for visitors were watching the kākā on the feeders and seeing the takahē, while some people simply said they enjoyed the whole experience of walking in the valley.
Proceeds from donations over the open weekend will go towards supporting ZEALANDIA’s education programme. ZEALANDIA provides environmental education to between 10,000 - 12,000 students every year, through visits to ZEALANDIA, and education outreach to schools. Students visiting ZEALANDIA get a hands-on experience with nature, learning about endangered birds, insects, fish and plants and what they can do to help them flourish.