Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Get up-close to a range of animals and spot the elusive kiwi bird at this area of tranquil forestland.

Look for fluffy kiwis among the wilderness and marvel at these rare birds in the simulated nighttime area at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Admire capuchin monkeys as they swing gracefully through the trees and pet wallabies at the hands-on enclosure.

Don’t miss the chance to glimpse New Zealand’s endangered kiwi bird at one of the only reserves in the country that guarantees that you will see one. Gaze out through dense woodland from the country’s largest kiwi viewing area to see these peculiar flightless birds. Step into the dark of the nocturnal house where you can watch the juvenile birds that are being bred by the reserve’s highly trained staff in an attempt to increase numbers.

Head back into the daylight and along the boardwalk that cuts through the tree-top canopy to the interactive wildlife area. Keep your eyes peeled to catch sight of otters playing by the stream and the capuchins on Monkey Island. Enjoy feeding the wallabies and don’t miss out on the unusual sensation of having a lemur sit on your shoulder. Look up to admire the colourful native birds, known as keas and kakas.

After a day of animal encounters try the Ko Tane Maori cultural experience at the reserve. This evening tour involves exploring a traditional village, watching a tribal performance and enjoying a delicious “hangi”, a meal cooked in an earth oven.

If you are visiting during the day you can still enjoy a selection of excellent food at the reserve’s restaurant. Try local lamb cooked with fresh vegetables or a burger and chips all with a spectacular view of the forest.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is in Northwood a 15-minute drive north of central Christchurch. The reserve is open all day throughout the year and there is a small admission fee.