Before travelling to the South Island of New Zealand, Nathan McGregor stops by Zealandia, Wellington, to observe the conservation work on show to help preserve the island’s wildlife.

Known as the windiest city in the world, Wellington has more to boast than just that in its sails.

For any traveller making their way through New Zealand you will undoubtedly, at one point or another, have to pass through Wellington – it is where you get the ferry down to the south island after all.

This city had loads to offer. We were there for four days and we planned to make the most of it.

From the bustling downtown streets to the quieter fishing harbor, the city changed lifestyles almost as much as the wind changed direction.

You will never be stuck for choice in Wellington as there is so much exploring you can do to fill up your diary.

Whether it be visiting the Te Papo Museum, learning about earthquake prevention schemes or climbing Mount Victoria, Wellington has something for everyone.

We opted to explore something a little outwith the city and get more into touch with nature. That’s why we chose to go to Zealandia: The world’s first fully-fenced ecosanctuary.

We were completely blown away by the conservation work on show and just how truly interesting and inspirational the whole project at Zealandia is.

The scheme has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, with 6 previously completely absent from mainland New Zealand.

We joined onto a guided tour that had already started walking through the sanctuary. The tour included the feeding of the native takahe. They look like colorful chickens with a hint of prehistoric roots about them.

Alan, a Zealandia volunteer, had already run ahead in the day and spotted some tuatara for us to look at it. The passion and knowledge they have for all of the animals, and the encompassing nature that inhabits them, was present for all to see.

I can’t speak highly enough of this place. It was fantastic.

I was even interested to learn about the educational work taking place a Zealandia. Our tour guide spoke of local university students conducting experiments with the native parrots, including pulley systems to release food – a somewhat reap-the-rewards of teamwork I thought. Until I was told it was to deter the slightly lighter in weight Tui!

Get yourself along to Zealandia if you’re in Wellington for a few days. Its reasonably cheap and completely worth your while.

During our stay in Wellington, we decided to go slightly above the classic budget backpacker accommodation route and chose something only marginally more expensive, but what turned out to be utterly fantastic in every aspect.

We chose to stay at The Dwellington and wow…

You would struggle to find a more friendlier, cleaner and chilled out hostel.

Right from the get go, being greeted at reception by a cheerful Noah, to even checking out and reading all the fantastic reviews these guys receive – and oh boy, do they receive so many nice words!

Everything was faultless.

Great free morning breakfast, a neighbouring tennis court outside and an abundance of showers and bathrooms.

You would struggle to find a nicer hostel in Wellington, let alone the North Island.

If you’re reading this and are planning to travel through Wellington, make sure you at least pay a quick visit to Zealandia and stay one night at The Dwellington.

These two were the top picks of the bunch for us. 

Take a look at these New Zealand Adventure Tours

By Nathan McGregor