Noticed that little island in the middle of Wellington Harbour? Not sure whether it’s worth a visit? Didn’t even know you could go there?
Well Matiu/Somes Island Scientific and Historic Reserve is open to the public 364 days of the year. Now with the Matiu/Somes Interactive Tour you can check it out before you go!
Before I joined the Department of Conservation I wasn’t sure what the deal was with Matiu/Somes Island. One person told me there were heaps of lizards and a lighthouse – not much else. But then I didn’t have the benefit of the interactive tour to get a taste of what’s really there.
I know I’m the Wellington community relations ranger, and I don’t use this word lightly, but Matiu is an AWESOME place with a lot more to see than just lizards and a lighthouse! You can see for yourself by following the link and having a virtual wander around to glimpse some of the things that make it such an important place for helping to conserve some of our endangered species, habitats and historic heritage.
The team at Beek developed the Matiu/Somes Virtual Tour using 360° panoramic views to maximise the interactive experience, allowing you to ‘stop’ at the click of a button and look all around at some of the views and features, explore information panels and discover some ‘hidden’ attractions, including Wellington’s iconic little blue penguin and the gentle giant weta – one of the world’s heaviest insects.
You can even enter some of the buildings to explore and get a real sense of some of the island’s history. See if you can spot the World War II anti-aircraft gun…
Now if you’re a bit of a natural cynic like me you might be thinking why do I need to bother going to the island if I can see it all from the (relative) comfort of my own chair? Well, for a start you don’t get to take the Dominion Post Ferry ride (look out for feeding penguins on the way) or meet the friendly island rangers – who are always happy to answer questions and spin you a yarn or two about island life.
You can also stay the night on the island in one of two houses available to rent or at the campsite, dotted with majestic cabbage trees with a stunning view down the gully towards the southern part of the harbour. Another thing you can’t do online is take a nightwalk where you’re almost guaranteed to see penguins and if you’re lucky and very quiet a tuatara or two – the only surviving reptile of an order that roamed the earth 200 million years ago. Tuatara are also regularly seen in the daytime, along with a host of other animals including seven species of skink and gecko and many people’s favourite – the chattering red-crowned parakeet (kakariki).
Tempted to take a trip over?
For more information check out Matiu/Somes Island on the DOC website.