Stephen Fry, a kakapo, and me

Stephen Fry and I have at least one thing in common: we have both seen the rare kakapo. I saw one at Zealandia (Wellington, NZ) while Stephen, on Codfish Island, (Whenua Hau) watched in amusement as Sirocco, poster boy for his species, attempted to mate with zoologist, and documentary-maker, Mark Carwardine. (see the YouTube clip here )

Behind 8½ kilometres of predator-proof fencing, Te Mara o Tane (the garden of Tane) this flightless visitor has many flocking to see him. One of only 129 left in the world, this fat, native nocturnal parrot is, according to Collins Travellers Guide, Birds of New Zealand is “moss green upperparts, yellowish green underparts” and is “entirely herbivorous, eats fruit, seed, nectar . . .”

Collins Birds of New Zealand

On the moonlit evening we check our bags and enter the sanctuary.  I hear kaka, tui and shags as they settle down for the night.  “Tui are usually the last to stop calling at night and the first to start in the morning’ according to one of my fellow kiwi on this night safari.

It is a privilege to see this rare bird – the heaviest parrot in the world: he was hand raised and unfortunately imprinted on humans, but which now has the advantage of making him available for tours such as this – and changing how other chicks are raised.

Enjoy my photos of this comical bird. (And, if you can, please help with its recovery)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In this hidden, almost secret valley, kiwi are breeding only 3 kilometres from our parliament – in the heart of our Capital city, a slice of New Zealand is reverting to its pre-human state so, make sure when in New Zealand, visit the world’s first inner city pest-free environment – and it seems Stephen and I have one more thing in common .. we’ve both been to Zealandia!

Author: Heather - the kiwi travel writer

Nomadic travel-writer, photographer, author & blogger. See more on and Amazon for my books (heather hapeta)