Wellington Zoo

Spend some quality time with big cats, giraffes, red pandas and white-cheeked gibbons at New Zealand’s oldest zoo.

There are approximately 500 animals to see at Wellington Zoo. They represent more than 100 species from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas and New Zealand. Among these are critically endangered Sumatran tigers and Campbell Island teals. The compact park is New Zealand’s first zoo, dating back to 1906.

Meander along the zoo’s paths and observe native species such as kiwi and tuatara, a lizard-like reptile whose ancestors lived in the age of dinosaurs. Pop into The Roost, the bird breeding and care facility. Learn about all stages of bird life at the zoo, from the incubation of eggs, to the birds’ home in the aviaries. Watch the keepers as they nurture birds in their care.

Call in on The Nest, the zoo’s state-of-the-art animal hospital. The facility has surgical rooms, various enclosures and a saltwater pool. From the viewing gallery attached to each surgical room, watch as vets perform checkups and operations and listen to live commentary from the veterinary team.

Visit Asia Precinct, the purpose-built home for the zoo’s Malayan sun bears and Sumatran tigers. Stand on the viewing decks for a close look at the tigers.

Make some time for one of the daily talks during which keepers discuss and answer questions about the species on show. There are no fewer than 10 talks each day, and they are held at different times and in different zoo locations. For details of the talks schedule, visit the zoo’s official website.

For an extra fee you can get close to some of the zoo’s deadliest, quirkiest and cutest animals. In these Close Encounters you can feed a lion, pet a cheetah and meet a meerkat.

Wellington Zoo is situated in the south of the city, about a 10-minute drive from the center. There is limited free parking. The zoo is served by two bus routes and is open every day except Christmas Day.