Wellington Scoop

Zealandia named by Time magazine as one of the world’s greatest places

News from Zealandia
Zealandia has today been named one of the “greatest places” on earth, in Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 Greatest Places of 2019.

Dr Danielle Shanahan, Acting Chief Executive, says: “We’re extraordinarily proud of what has been achieved at Zealandia and are thrilled to have been recognized by Time Magazine in this way. Zealandia’s success shows what is possible when a community gets behind a wild and ambitious idea.”

“The incredible changes in birdlife that we have experienced across the region show that cities don’t have to be places devoid of native wildlife. Wellington is one of the world’s only cities where native bird biodiversity is increasing rather than decreasing.”

Justin Lester, Mayor of Wellington, says: “We have long known that Zealandia is a special treasure, or taonga, for Wellington. This achievement recognises the many people and organisations who got behind the dream and is an exceptional result for Wellington.”

For 24 years, Zealandia has been working to restore a valley 2km from downtown Wellington. Alongside a passionate community dedicated to conservation, it has achieved astounding results in re-introducing native wildlife to the area, and as a result people are now encountering many once-rare species in their backyards. This has resulted not only in improvements for nature, but a transformation of people who now take action to care for wildlife across the city.

The TIME list was drawn from nominations across a variety of categories — including museums, parks, restaurants, and hotels. From there they evaluated each one based on key factors, including quality, originality, sustainability, innovation and influence.

Zealandia acknowledges and congratulates the two other New Zealand-based places which made the list, Hiakai restaurant in Wellington, and Camp Glenorchy.

The Time story reads, “Before New Zealand was home to humans, chatty birds like the tui and kereru dominated the land’s lush green hills and valleys. But the arrival of invasive mammalian predators drove many native species to extinction. In the early 1990s, sanctuary founder Jim Lynch envisioned a pest-proof environment in the heart of Wellington. The result is ZEALANDIA, a 500-acre area encircled by a mesh barrier that keeps out stoats, weasels and more; it’s the world’s first fully fenced urban eco-sanctuary. Since the mesh was erected in 1999, more than 20 species of native wildlife have been reintroduced, including the hihi, one of the country’s rarest birds. In February, ZEALANDIA announced an important milestone: the birth of the sanctuary’s 1,000th hihi chick. The species, which was nearly extinct before reintroduction efforts began, is one of Zealandia’s success stories.”

News from WREDA
The Zealandia eco-sanctuary and Hiakai restaurant are both listed on Time’s World’s Greatest Places 2019: 100 destinations to explore right now. Zealandia is praised by Time for its foresight in creating a 500-acre predator-proof sanctuary which recently celebrated the birth of its 1000th Hihi chick – a major milestone for the endangered species.

Hiakai chef Monique Fiso is credited with paying homage to her Maori roots and creating a “buzz” with the opening of Hiakai which not only serves superb Maori-inspired food but fostered new supply chains for those who want to cook with “native” ingredients.

WellingtonNZ General Manager Anna Calver says being recognised as having two of the world’s top 100 greatest places by such a reputable publication as Time is a big achievement for a city the size of Wellington.

“This is a truly incredible accolade for Zealandia and Monique Fiso. They’ve both shown true vision which is paying off big-time with the sort of global recognition that can’t be bought.

“Fiso is putting contemporary Maori cuisine on the global map and making New Zealand food famous in the process.
“Zealandia shows the payoff of bold thinking. It’s an amazing success story for the city and our wildlife and provides not only an incredibly unique visitor attraction but an easily accessible place for residents to connect with nature and all the benefits that brings.

“Their success will further boost our profile as a great destination for international and domestic visitors who are collectively worth $2.7 billion a year to the Wellington regional economy.”


  1. Hel, 23. August 2019, 20:07

    Well done Zealandia what a brilliant story and turnaround from a few years ago.

  2. Andy Foster, 23. August 2019, 20:48

    Great news and something to be really proud of! It has been a long and at times hard road since we started this incredible adventure in 1992. A huge number of people have been part of the Zealandia family creating this wonderful place. You should all be thrilled by this recognition.
    I was in there tonight helping guide American and Canadian visitors. Plenty of birds to see – tui, kaka, tieke, riroriro, piwakawaka, takahe, shags, 3 kiwi.
    We are getting 130,000 visitors a year, a lot of great research projects, almost 700 volunteers, and the birds spreading out over the city. Fantastic seeing Time recognising Zealandia in this way.

    Andy Foster
    Foundation Trustee/Guardian/Volunteer