Admission to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Christchurch, New Zealand
- "The Big 5": Meet all five of NZ's most celebrated – and endangered – native species – the nation's mascot kiwi, the mischievous alpine kea parrot, the kaka lowland parrot, the primitive, lizard-like tuatara, and the rare, flightless takahe – considered extinct until it was rediscovered in 1948.
- Kiwi viewing: Mingle with juveniles born in the reserve's successful breeding program as you walk through a natural "nocturnal house" and other areas where they wander freely.
- An Ark's-worth of others: Learn about the impact of introduced species as deer nibble from your palm. See hand-raised wallabies, two kinds of lemurs, siamang gibbons and capuchin monkeys, cockatoos and macaws, Asian otters, and more.
- A classic NZ farmyard: Encounter diverse livestock breeds that became part of rural life on the islands. Meet Gandalf the Llama, Sam the Clydesdale, and Mafia the Bantam – along with goats, heritage chickens, miniature horses, and a grape-loving peacock named Nigel.
About This Christchurch Tour
An animal oddity of the first order – related to the ostrich and emu, but loaded with unexpected mammalian characteristics – it's no surprise the kiwi became New Zealand's signature symbol.
Over the last century, its distinctive, long-snouted silhouette has appeared on everything from regimental soldier's uniforms and tins of popular shoe polish to postage stamps and the flip-side of the New Zealand dollar coin.
But today, some 95 percent of the defenseless chicks born in the wild won't survive the first few weeks of life; kiwis evolved long before so many modern mammalian predators (and housing developments) were introduced to New Zealand. So it's not often you'll get to see one, especially without glass, wire, or some other unnatural barrier intruding on the experience.
That's what makes Willowbank different. Here you're able to step into several different environments to get up close and personal with the national bird. It's all part of a critical – and highly successful – program for the protection and breeding of kiwis and other endangered species.
Your visit helps keep the process going. And gives you a chance to get to know these strange and fascinating critters: leggy, flightless, with whiskers like a cat, feathers like hair, and nostrils they clear with a hearty snort after poking their bills in the muck for tasty earthworms.
All things considered, that's a resource exchange everyone can live better with.
Winning the rat race
Kiwis aren't the only oddballs inhabiting Willowbank. The tuatara is a sort of living fossil, related to modern lizards but chock full of prehistoric features. Like three interlocking sets of teeth an actual photoreceptive "third eye," the ability to hear without external ears, and crazy-long lifespans (one was said to be 111 before becoming a first-time father.) Here again, Willowbrook's breeding efforts are key to the survival of a population decimated by rats that arrived with early settlers.
Please make your way to 60 Hussey Rd, Northwood, Christchurch to begin your adventure.
Bring small coins for the bathroom. Take a light jacket or rain coat for the weather. Willowbank is roughly 57 miles from the port area of Akaroa.
The amount of walking is at the traveler's discretion while visiting the attraction. Varying surfaces will be encountered during your tour.
Cultural, Tickets, Walking Tour
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Non-refundable if canceled within 24 hours of requested services.
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