A Secret Valley: Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

Credit: Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

252 hectares of native forest, located only 2km from Wellington City Centre, is hidden in a secret valley filled with the songs of rare, native birds. Karori Wildlife Sanctuary reminds us of our past mistakes in handling our precious environment and gives us hope for the future. A remarkable 500-year vision and a world first in terms of creating a sanctuary on the mainland. In the past, offshore islands were cleared of introduced predators and turned into save havens for native species. Today, there is hope on the mainland too. An ingenious predator-proof fence, specifically designed to exclude 14 species of non-native mammals, ranging from possums to mice, encircles the 8.6km perimeter.

Charlotte checks out how she measures up to the predators and how high she can jump in comparison (about as high as a rat!):

Sophie examines a ‘humane-kill’ trap. Charlotte and Sophie try their best to decipher those mysterious letters and read the beautifully illustrated signs:

The Sanctuary offers a wealth of learning opportunities for every age and is so much more appealing to learners than the confinement of a classroom or listening to lectures. Science, geography and social studies are just a few of the ‘curriculum’ areas in which the sanctuary provides learning opportunities. Visit www.learnz.org.nz for wonderful field-trip activities and printable worksheets.

Of course our preschoolers were content to test their physical abilities to the limit, but along the way they also learned plenty of little lessons to develop their brain cells!

Running to the ‘Bird Song Gully’ where the girls enjoyed listening to various native bird calls:

Looking for ‘wetas’ and collecting leaves:

Charlotte and Bethany enjoyed identifying different species and learning why their natural habitat has become under threat through predators and habitat destruction. Sophie learned colours, shapes and size differentials through her leaf collections.

We took a break for some food and an impromptu puppet show, where we thought about how we needed to behave in a wildlife sanctuary (erm, erm, think we have plenty of room for improvement in this area!) and how species have to work together to share the environment (we used a giraffe and a monkey who only had one tree to share).

There was just enough time left for a few games of ‘Pooh Sticks’ (thank you Christopher Robin!) before the tramp back to the Visitor Centre for ice-lollies!

The girls were all amazing as we were walking for nearly three hours! Even 16-month old Sophie walked most of the way!

Who needs school, when nature provides so many wonderful learning opportunities!