Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, the world’s southern-most national capital, is situated at the southern end of the north island. New Zealand is composed of several islands with the two largest, the north and south islands being separated by the Cook Strait. Wellington, built on hills with a cable car that reminds one of San Francisco, has its city center near the port. A ten minute drive from the city takes you to Zealandia.

Zealandia is an artificially created sanctuary to preserve the native flora and fauna of New Zealand which were decimated by destruction of native habitats and introduction of mammalian predators by the Maoris and the Europeans. The first photo shows a dam and fence that were built to create wetlands and keep mammals out. The second photo shows the fence up in the forest. This fence was carefully researched to keep out jumping, climbing, and burrowing mammals. It surrounds over 500 acres. We entered the sanctuary through a special chamber that had two gates, one of which would not open until the other was closed. As a result of this initiative a number of nearly extinct bird populations are recovering. New Zealand has three such sites.

Back in Wellington after lunch at a very old pub called the Thistle, we visited the government buildings. The executive building a beehive-shaped structure and the House of Parliament were brought to life by a volunteer guide who obviously loved New Zealand, its history, and its government. No cameras were allowed, but we saw the room where the single chamber of parliament meets, the thrones used when royalty visit, the special room designed for the mandatory Maori representation, and statues of prominent people in New Zealand’s history.

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