Eco sanctuary opens tour for the blind

Wellington’s Zealandia eco sanctuary is offering a new sensory-based tour guiding blind and visually impaired visitors through its stunning wilderness

The tour has been developed by nature guide Terese McLeod, who leads groups of visually impaired and blind people through an area of bush that is the home to some of New Zealand’s rarest and most extraordinary wildlife. Terese, of Taranaki Whanui descent, helps the visitors to connect with nature through sound, smell and touch. 


Nestled in hills a mere 10-minute drive from Wellington’s busy city centre, Zealandia is the world’s first fully-fenced urban eco sanctuary. The groundbreaking conservation project has managed to reintroduce 18 species of native wildlife, including the little spotted kiwi and tuatara in this 225-hectare natural park.

The idea of native bush tours for the blind had been close to Terese’s heart for a long time, but developing Te Ara o Nga Taringa i Kite or The Pathway of the Ears has been more challenging than she ever imagined. 

In her early 20s Terese lost her eyesight to bilateral keratoconus, a corneal thinning disorder. After nearly a decade her sight was restored when she received cornea transplants. Shortly after, she rekindled her love for the outdoors and has been active with the Department of Conservation for more than 20 years. The sensory tours will be offered twice a month and on demand.

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