Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a nature conservation and wildlife park in Christchurch City, New Zealand.
Close Encounters with the New Zealand's Wildlife at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
1. The Ultimate Petting Zoo in New Zealand
Have you ever been to a petting zoo before where you can touch and feed the animals directly from your hand? Well, think of Willowbank Wildlife Reserve as the largest petting zoo but instead of the ordinary farm animals or other domesticated fauna most of the petting zoos have, you will see many New Zealand native species such as kiwi, tuatara, Dauvacel gecko and other Australasian animals such as kangaroos, koalas, and many more. There are also various exotic birds, deers, eels, peacocks, and many other animals inside the reserve. The newest addition to their collection is a lovely lemur twin, which captivates the heart of many people who visited the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. They are also the only one to have a pair of the rare takahe, an indigenous flightless bird of New Zealand, other than the New Zealand's Department of Conservation.
2. Embrace the Wilderness in the Wild New Zealand
This area contains animals that can be found roaming the wilds of New Zealand such as ducks, ostriches, eels, turtles, and many more. Located just to the left of the main entrance, the area is filled with a pathway that stretches through the rivers and ponds. The newly added lemurs are located here, so be sure to check it out on your visit. Out of the three areas, this one has the longest pathway, so it is advisable to take your time and stroll through the beautiful landscape surrounded by the New Zealand wilderness.
3. Observe the Farm Life in the Heritage New Zealand
The Heritage New Zealand contains local livestock and domesticated animals such as pigs, sheeps, horses, donkeys, chickens, etc. as well as other animals such as llamas, peacocks, and rabbits. You can see all of them in an enclosure that resembles a New Zealand farm, complete with the barns and tractors. If you bring your kids with you, feel free to try riding the miniature horses that already provided.
4. Experience the Native Fauna in the Natural New Zealand
Located just to the right of the main entrance, the Natural New Zealand has the most species out of the three, making it very densely populated with fauna. Here you can see the world-famous kiwi and the ancient-looking tuatara. Most visitors love to experience touching kiwis by their hands or just watching it roam around and forages at their feet. Other than kiwi and tuatara, you can also find exotic birds, rainbow trouts, possums, and other New Zealand reptiles in this area.
5. Have a Barbecue and Picnic
People of New Zealand love barbecue. It is a great pastime activity on any sunny day. Inside the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, next to the Heritage New Zealand area, just by the donkeys, there is a wide open space that is meant to be used for barbecuing or picnic. You can hang out and have fun with your friends and family, enjoying the grilled dishes with some cold drinks while watching the lovely animals around you. Such a great and fun experience!
6. Ko Tane Maori Cultural Performance
Every evening, there is a cultural performance in Willowbank Wildlife Reserve that should not be missed. The authentic Ko Tane Maori Cultural Performance will bring you through a journey filled with knowledge, fun, and a few laughs. Learn the Maori tradition from their ceremony to their songs performed by the locals in this reserve, as it will certainly be a remarkable and unforgettable moment for you to experience. The performance will be topped with a 4-course dinner served at the restaurant next to the cultural performance area.
How to Get Tickets?
Tickets to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve can be purchased straight from their ticket booth or via an online booking. For your convenience, we advised you to purchase them online beforehand, as to avoid waiting at the ticket booth if there is a long line.
How To Get Around?
Visitors can traverse around the reserve via the pathways and wooden brigdes that scattered around the area. Visitors with wheelchair or have movement impairment will likely find some difficulties in accessing several places inside the reserve. However, most of the reserve remained accessible for all, even those who have movement impairment. For a better information and help, consult with the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve's staff during your visit.
What Should I Wear?
There is no recommended dress code for visiting the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. You might want to consider wearing comfortable shoes for walking inside the reserve. As this is an outdoor site, remember to check the weather before you go.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is around the springtime, between August - October as it has the best weather. Alternatively, you might want to visit the reserve before the cold winter during the February - April.
New Zealand Dollar
Will I Need a Guide?
There is a guided tour available if you want to obtain a better understanding and depth during your visit to the reserve. Other than that, it is okay to travel around without any guide.
How To Get There?
You can take bus number 107 at various point in Christchurch, stopping at the bus station closest to the reserve, the Hussey Rd near Springvale Gdns, or another one further, the Gardiners Rd near Smacks Cl. Alternatively, bus number 108 also stopped near the reserve, albeit at a further distance at the Highsted Rd near Ludhiana St.