24 Oct 2015

'Meet the locals' at Wellington Zoo

4:18 pm on 24 October 2015

A new area of Wellington Zoo has finally opened in time for Labour Weekend after 10 years in the making.

Little blue penguin enclosure

Little blue penguin enclosure Photo: RNZ/ Alexa Cook

Farm animals and native wildlife will occupy four different habitats in one precinct in a project called 'Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha'.

The entrance to 'Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha'.

The entrance to 'Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha'. Photo: RNZ/ Alexa Cook

The project takes visitors on a journey from the coast to the farm and up into the bush and the mountains, weaving stories from community members and children in along the way.

One of the interactive activities

One of the interactive activities Photo: RNZ/ Alexa Cook

Many parts of 'Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha' are interactive and designed for children to play and explore, such as the barefoot bush area and the tree shaped 'weta hotel'.

Visitors can expect everything from little blue penguins to farmyard animals, an educational barn and a community vegetable garden. They can then journey over a bridge to an interactive conservation display.

Project manager Amy Hughes said the zoo wanted people to have an authentic farm experience.

Project leader Amy Hughes

Project leader Amy Hughes Photo: RNZ/ Alexa Cook

"We want to highlight where foods come from and connect people back to their food sources because a lot of people are really removed.

"Throughout this space we talk about what animals provide us and then what we can do in return - such as looking for higher welfare products or just treating them well."

The final stage of the project, which was still incomplete, would be opened by the end of November.