Christchurch

Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch

One of my earliest memories was driving through the lion enclosure at Orana Wildlife Park and seeing lions wandering around outside the car. You can’t do that anymore (that all ended in 1995), but it was exciting to return to this place after so many years. Orana Wildlife Park has a great selection of animals to see and is one of the best things to do in Christchurch with kids (or anyone who loves animals, which is pretty much everyone!).

Orana Wildlife Park Highlights

I won’t go through absolutely everything we saw at Orana Wildlife Park because there are heaps of animals on show. Below were the coolest experiences we had.

Feeding Giraffes

Lining up with branches in hand, we slowly inched closer to the giraffes we were about to feed. You could see the excitement on the kids in line, but we probably had the same expression! Feeding giraffes is fun — you just hold the branch out and they grab it with their tongue. The line was pretty long but it only took around 10 minutes to get to the front. Feeding giraffes is definitely an Orana Wildlife Park highlight!

Getting up close to a kiwi

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a kiwi in the wild before, but my memory isn’t the best so who really knows. We saw one about a metre in front of our eyes at Orana Wildlife Park and it was pretty exciting — if you want a good chance of spotting a kiwi this is one of your best bets. The kiwi enclose is kept in a dark room (kiwis are nocturnal creatures) and you can’t take photos in there.

Gorillas

My favourite Orana Park experience was getting up close to gorillas. When we first arrived at their enclosure they weren’t up to much,  but then one got up and started walking around outside. After a while he came back inside to escape the heat. Soon after another gorilla stood up, reached for a blanket, rearranged its bed and lay down. Everything it did looked so much like how a human would do it and the way it lay down and slept was pretty cute. This all happened about two metres in front of us (behind glass, of course).

Big Cats

Seeing big cats at zoos is always a highlight. We got pretty close to a cheetah who was chilling out in the long grass and saw some lions moving around before resting under a tree. We only just caught a glimpse of a tiger — it was early afternoon at that point and it was really hot — not the best time to see animals moving around!

Meercats

These little creatures are always entertaining. They’ve constantly on the move — crawling through pipes, standing tall on their back legs and just generally being cute.

Other Animals at Orana Wildlife Park

The range of animals at Orana Wildlife Park is impressive. We saw gibbons, spider monkeys, orangutans, springboks, bison, Tasmanian devils, lemurs, zebras and heaps more. We were also impressed by the enclosures — they are all large and open and seem to mimic (as best as they can) their natural habitats. Orana Wildlife Park puts a big emphasis on conservation — so your kids (and you) will learn something during your visit. As you go along your visit, you’ll see information on how to  help save  endangered animals such as keeping a dog on a leash to protect kiwi and responsible purchasing (ie only buy certified sustainable palm oil).

Orana Wildlife Park Details

  • Getting to Orana Wildlife Park: It’s located at 793 Mcleans Island Road, just outside the city. It’s around 15 minute’s drive from the airport.
  • Ticket Price: Adults $34.50 each, children (5 to 14 years old) $9.50 each and free for children under 5 years old.
  • Opening Hours: 10 am – 5.00 pm (last entrance at 4 pm). It’s best to get there as close to opening hours as possible as it gets hot in the afternoon (meaning the animals get a bit lazy) and most of the presentations / feedings are in the morning / early afternoon. Check out the website for more information about feeding times etc.

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Disclaimer: We were hosted by Orana Wildlife Park during our recent trip to Christchurch. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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