Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo sitting on 80 hectares of land, located just outside of Christchurch.
Orana Park opened in 1976 as a drive-through open-range zoo. What made it popular in the early years was its drive-through lion reserve. The lions were known for climbing on top of vehicles.
In 1995 Orana changed its business model. Visitors could no longer drive through the park. They would walk around the park or ride on the complimentary shuttle. This also meant the drive-through lion reserve closed. Today for an additional cost visitors can do the Lion Encounter. They will hop onboard a vehicle with the zoo keepers that drives through the lion enclosure. The keepers will feed the lions from within the safety of the vehicle. As you can see from the photos below the lions will often climb on top of the vehicle.
There are other activities, which are included in the standard zoo entrance price that offer visitors the chance to feed or see animals up close. There is the opportunity to hand feed a giraffe twice day and in the afternoon at the rhino encounter visitors will be only a few feet from a white rhinoceros (safely separated by two fences of course).
The day I visited there were also keeper talks for the Meerkats, Kea, farmyard animals, Tasmanian Devils, Trout and Gorilla.
There is also the Safari Shuttle, which provides guided commentary as it circuits the park. This takes approximately 25 minutes.
Orana Wildlife Park is located at 493 McLeans Island Road, Christchurch.