VIP bugs move into luxury Auckland hotel

Blake (left) and Kleinpaste

A FAMILY of New Zealand’s ferocious looking insects has moved into one of Auckland’s top luxury hotels, The Langham.
Auckland tree weta - insects that like to chew on decaying wood – are living in style the hotel’s recently built ‘wetarium’. Located outside the hotel lobby in Greys Courtyard in a native New Zealand plant sanctuary, the new weta habitat is a glass enclosure that allows hotel guests and visitors a glimpse into the lives of these nocturnal creatures usually found in grasslands, bush or caves.
The residency, for up to four male and 10 female weta at a time, will be long term, according to the hotel’s environmental project supervisor Nicholas Blake.
“Weta pre-date the dinosaur and are an incredibly unique, indigenous insect to New Zealand,” he said. “By creating this habitat we wanted to educate guests and visitors to the hotel on the importance of the weta and the vital role they play in New Zealand’s eco-system.”
People might be alarmed by the weta’s fierce looking body armour but, Blake said, it was “truly remarkable and deserved to be recognised and valued - not feared or trampled on”.
According to environmental adviser Ruud Kleinpaste there are at least 90 species of weta in New Zealand. About 16 species are known to be at risk.
“While weta are clearly tenacious to have survived so long in the evolutionary process, they do need to be protected and their special attributes celebrated. Showcasing our wetas helps us to tell the story of the value of our native biodiversity,” said Kleinpaste.
He was sure that overseas guests would be intrigued by this iconic New Zealand insect, a member of the cricket and grasshopper family.
The project, part of The Langham’s ‘Guests of the Earth’ environmental programme, is one of several steps the hotel is taking to demonstrate its commitment to the local environment and sustainable tourism.
The Langham Auckland is a 410 room property with seven different room and suite categories. It is one of only two New Zealand properties belonging to the Leading Hotels of the World.
The hotel this year received the Green Globe Sustainability Award at the Tourism Industry Awards held in Christchurch in August.