Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch

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.

Healesville Sanctuary, Australia

Healesville Sanctuary is a zoo specialising in native Australian animals.


Dr Colin McKenzie set up the Institute of Anatomical Research in 1920 on 78 acres (32 hectares of land. The reserve was passed to the Healesville Council in 1927 and was named the Sir Colin McKenzie Sanctuary in 1934 (McKenzie was knighted in 1929).

Today the sanctuary is part of Zoos Victoria, which includes Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo. It is well known for its work saving endangered Australian species.

The zoo is set in a natural bushland environment with over 200 species of Australian animals. The zoo is split up into a series of different areas / tracks to explore.

The main track is home to reptiles, amphibians, birds of prey, parrots, and emus. There are also several sites of Aboriginal cultural significance to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. There is also the Flight Arena, where there is a daily bird show and the Australian Wildlife Centre, that treats more than 1500 sick and injured native animals a year.


Spirts of Sky – Bird Show

The woodlands track includes emu, wallaby, barn owl, Australian pelicans, kookaburra, Tasmanian Devil. Also here is Animals of the Night, a facility that houses nocturnal animals, such as possums, bilbies, bandicoots and gliders.

The wetlands track is home to native wetland birds and frogs, such as the black swan, which originated from the Southern Hemisphere.

There is also Dingo County, Kangaroo County (Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, Red Kangaroos and Wombats), Koala Forest (Southern Koala and short-beaked echidna), and the Platypus Track.

Healesville Sanctuary is approximately one hour from Melbourne. The address is Badger Creek Road, Healesville, Victoria.

Tree Kangaroo








Kangaroo County

Hamilton Zoo

Hamilton Zoo is a 25 hectare zoo located on Brymer Road in the Hamilton suburb of Rotokauri.

Giraffes at Hamilton Zoo

Giraffes at Hamilton Zoo

The Zoo is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9am to 5pm. Last admission is at 3.30pm.

Prices are adults $20, children (3-15) $9, tertiary student, beneficiary, senior citizen $14.50. There are also family pass and annual pass options available as well.

Up close with a chimp

Up close with a chimp

Hamilton Zoo was formed in 1969 as the Hilldale Game Farm by Murray and Gloria Powell. By 1987, the pheasant farm was in financial difficulty and facing closure. The Hamilton City Council brought the zoo and began developing it into what it is today.

There is plenty to see at Hamilton Zoo with over 600 animals. It also boasts the largest walk-through aviary in New Zealand. There is onsite cafe, Flavours, and several picnic and BBQ areas throughout the zoo.

The Zoo offers ‘Meet the Keeper’ talks throughout the day. I attended talks and feedings for the Southern white Rhinoceros, Sumatran Tiger and Chimpanzee.

Southern white rhinos feeding

Southern white rhinos feeding


Sumatran tiger hunting for food

Sumatran Tiger playing in the water

Sumatran tiger playing in the water

Chimp waiting for food

Chimp waiting for food



Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo is a 13 hectare zoo park in the Wellington suburb of Newtown.

The Zoo was opened in 1906 by then Prime Minister Richard Seddon after he was gifted a young lion and has since grown to a park that now boasts over 100 different species from around the world.

The Zoo is open daily, except for Christmas Day, from 9.30am to 5pm. Last entry is at 4.15pm. Adults are $21, Children (4-14) are $10.50. There is $16 concession available to students, seniors, community service cardholders and YHA members.

The zoo is less than ten minutes drive from the city. There is limited free parking onsite. The No. 10 bus from Wellington Railway Station and the No. 23 bus from Mairangi via Kelburn and Lambton Quay stop near the zoo.


Pelican at Wellington Zoo

Like all zoos, Wellington Zoo offers various daily zoo kepper talks. I attended talks on monkeys, giraffes, vet clinic and a bird show in the Wild Theatre.


Zoo keeper talks

Zoo keeper talks

The Zoo also offers Close Encounters were visitors can get up close and personal with animals. The Zoo offers encounters with cheetahs, lions, giraffe, red panda, meerkats and lemurs. Prices start from $95 per person.

After visiting the Zoo visitors can check out the shop, which includes paintings by chimpanzee Jesse.

Wellington Zoo

200 Daniell Street, Newtown

9.30am to 5pm, daily

Auckland Zoo

Today June 21st is World Giraffe Day – an initiative set up by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.  So today I headed along to the Auckland Zoo.

World Giraffe Day at Auckland Zoo

World Giraffe Day at Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo is a 16 hectare (40 acre) zoo located in Western Springs. The Zoo first opened in 1922 and has been running strong ever since. The Zoo is open seven days from 9:30am to 5pm (1 May – 31 August). From the months of September to the end of April the Zoo is open until 5:30pm. Last admission is at 4:15pm.

Adults are $25, children (4 – 14 years) $10, students/senior citizens $20. There are family pass options available as well. Prices are due to go up 1 July. See their website for more details.

Prior to arriving at the Zoo I walked through Western Springs Lakeside Park.



Western Springs Lakeside Park

The Zoo is divided up into different themed sections, that include Pridelands, ASB Elephant Clearing, Hippo River, Te Wao Nui, Orangutan Trial, KidZone, The Tropics, Aussie Walkabout and Tiger Territory.

I started at Pridelands, since it was the Giraffe’s day and that is where they reside. Also in the Pridelands were Zebra, Springbok, Ostrich, Rhinoceros, and Lions.


During World Giraffe Day at the Zoo visitors could see how they measured up against a 4 month old Giraffe.


Lions, Auckland Zoo

Lions, Auckland Zoo

Throughout the day there were several scheduled animal encounters where keepers explained a little bit more about the zoo’s animals. I went to animal encounters for Giraffe, Elephant, Orangutan, Tasmanian devil and Tiger.


Burma during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo

Burma during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo


Tiger during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo

Tiger during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo is located on the city centre fringe, and is a perfect day out for families and animal lovers young at heart.


Auckland Zoo

Motions Road, Westerns Springs

9:30am – 5:00pm (1 May – 31 August)

9:30am – 5:30pm (1 September – 30 April)