I was lucky enough to see the newest part of Auckland Zoo today... Te Wao Nui. A wonderful experience I can say up front.
This morning I left central Auckland to catch my bus from Albert Street to the Zoo... man I was excited. Quickly I stamped up to my bus stop to make sure that I won't miss it. After about 15 minutes I arrived at Auckland Zoo and met up with my zoo guide for the day. The Adventure began...
Shortly before I tell more about the recently opened part of the zoo I would like to give some facts about the Auckland Zoo in general. It is one of the biggest zoos in New Zealand and it uses a percentage of the visitors admission to support the conversation of New Zealand's native species. Due to the added area the Auckland Zoo offers 17ha footprint of New Zealand's culture, animals and plants which is a unique experience for locals and international guests.
Te Wao Nui - has a very meaningful name - translated it means natural, unique habitats and environment in Aotearoa. It comes originally from the Maori language and has a deeper connection to the history of the Maori.
The area is divided into six habitats: The Coast (Takutai), The Islands (Moutere Rahui), The Wetlands (Nga Repo), The Night (Te Po), The Forest (Te Wao Nui a Tane) and the High Country (Whenua Waotu).
Beforehand I would like to mention that the Auckland Zoo was planning this project of opening a new area with conserving their own plants, animals and combining it with their culture for about 15 years. Impressively Auckland Zoo implemented and built the Te Wao Nui within one year.
First, my zoo guide, took me to The coast of Te Wao Nui and I got to see New Zealand fur seals and little blue penguins... well more or less they were kinda hiding under the boat. That made it even cuter. This area is representing the coast line of this beautiful country with all the unique plants that grow amongst dunes and rocks.
After a short visit at The Coast we went to The Islands. Here I learned that when human beings migrated to New Zealand they brought some bad diseases like pests into the country. Usually those people got banished to Islands and due to this a lot of animals had vanished.
The animals, which live on The Islands are Tuatara, Antipodes Island parakeet, Campbell Island teal, Northland green gecko, forest gecko and many more. Most of these animals are hard to see in the wild. Your chances of spotting one of theses animals are much higher at Auckland zoo.
We passed a bridge with lots of wood chained to the bridge, so I was asking my guide, what is it with this bridge. Is there any bigger meaning behind these long wood pieces on the bridge. She told me yes indeed, the Maori would cut down trees and use the water like a transportation for the wood down to the harbour, where they could load the trees on boats.
Next stop The Wetlands. Right first when we entered the area a male New Zealand scaup (papango) welcomed us with voice. Quite funny to see an exciting bird like this, after one minute he got tired and was ready for his nap.
Other than this duck you can see all kind of different ducks like the shelduck, white-faced heron and grey teal duck but they have also eels in this area like the long-finned eel. The Wetlands represents the incredible habitats of the New Zealand original animals. They have been living here since the existence of New Zealand and therefore are unique animals.
The Night (Te Po) - my guide opened the door for me to go into this habitat of typical New Zealand animals. It was dark and I didn't really knew what I was stepping on. But then I looked up and I saw little lights over our heads, these lights indicate glowworms which live in caves and they look like hanging lighting up worms - really cool I think. Lot's of the New Zealand animals are awake at night and sleep during the day, like the Kiwi, the morepork, kauri snail, and much more. If you haven't seen a Kiwi in real life then you definitely should go to Auckland Zoo and see them. They are so unique and cute.
Another beautiful cultural connection in this area is the star sky, which represents the Maori New Year.
The fifth habitat of the Te Wao Nui is The Forest. You open the door into the cage and you feel like you are in the forest. Auckland Zoo tried to use original plants from the forest. Hear the birds and see them flying around, there is a nice little river as well, where the birds can bathe and drink. What really made a big impression on me is that there are wild birds coming along to have contact with the birds inside the cage it's amazing. If you go on top of the observation platform you get a nice view of the forest and a bit of the zoo.
Last but not least the sixth habitat of Te Wao Nui is the High country, the animals living on the South Island of New Zealand are to be found in this area. The blue duck, kea, the weka and the otago skink and the rough gecko can be spotted in the High country habitat. This area represents all the elements of Te Wao Nui and gives the opportunity to be face to face with the most famous animals of the South Island like the kea (a parrot). After going through all these habitats I got a better insight of what kind of animals live in New Zealand and how important it is to help those animals to survive so they will not vanish out of this country or world.
Thank you so much for showing me around, I had a lovely day at the beautiful Auckland Zoo ;)