Opened to the public in late 2002, this 252-hectare (623-acre) reservoir catchment was the world’s first urban sanctuary. Only minutes from the inner city, it is home to rare native wildlife such as kiwi, saddlebacks, and tuatara, which were reintroduced after all pests and predators had been removed from the valley. Enjoy a self-guided bush walk and learn about the history of the area as well as plans for the continuing development of this unique urban greenbelt. Tracks range from flat and sealed to steep and muddy, requiring moderate fitness and sensible shoes, but you can take your time. The Sanctuary by Night tours are a real treat, and they depart daily 30 minutes before sunset. The new visitor center exhibit, opened in 2010, details the story of New Zealand’s remarkable natural history and successful ecological restoration in the heart of the nation’s capital. An excellent 5-minute film shows every half hour and between screenings you can check out the giant Haast eagle, native birdsong, giant snails and the pests that play havoc with our forest environments. Allow half a day at least to get the most from the sanctuary.