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Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Have a memorable hands-on meeting with New Zealand's unique animals at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Mixing lighthearted entertainment with more serious conservation issues, there are Maori cultural performances in the evening and dinner ... 

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Certified reviews by travelers like you.

pteach

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
April 2016

In my opinion this tour provider should not ever be used again Our first van was 20 years old and broke down 5-10 minutes after leaving port.and developed a leak which the driver and manager denied. First, they found a bus to pick us up and take us to our first stop, a garden where we were given 15 minutes to see the garden and go to the rest rooms. At Willowbank, we had an abbreviated tour according to their guide. We eventually returned to the original van, which smelled from whatever leaked.

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Sandra

1 star rating: I do not recommend this
March 2016

I was very disappointed in this trip. We started out in Akaroa with a drive to Christchurch. I was under the impression that we would have a guide to give us interesting info about the area. We did not have a guide, we had a driver. Our driver was very nice and polite, but he was a driver and did not provide tour guide services. This should have been advertised as transportation service to the Christchuch area. The drive through the Banks Peninsula was pretty, but that was all it was, a drive with pretty views, no guide service. We arrived at Christchurch where our driver dropped us off for 30 minutes at the Botanical Gardens. These gardens were pretty, but not worth the time it took to get there. We then had a drive through Christchurch which was a huge waste of time and not very interesting. This drive consisted of driving through the business area and looking at the buildings under construction. A waste of time. We then headed to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. I highly recommend this reserve. Unfortunately because so much time was wasted at the botanical gardens and the drive though the business district, we had minimal time at the wildlife reserve. We had a guide assigned to our group who was excellent but this part of the tour only lasted 45 minutes and he only took us through a small portion of the park. I asked the guide why the tour was so short and he explained that for him to show us the park it would take 2 to 2 1/2 hours. After this short tour we had one hour left before heading back to Akaroa and were given the choice to have lunch at the café or walk around independently to see the rest of the park. I chose to walk around the rest of the park and quickly bought a bite to eat at the café to eat on the bus. I felt extremely rushed. The Wildlife Reserve was very interesting. This tour would have been much better if we had skipped Christchuch and visited the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and had a guided tour through it.

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Nancy P

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
February 2016

The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve was very interesting with lots of unique animals and the personal tour was really nice. The Maori concert was fun and the dinner was really good.

Doing what: Willowbank Dinner and Maori Concert from Christchurch

Jennifer P

4 star rating: Recommended
February 2016

This was a very informative and interesting tour. There was a bit of confusion as to which bus was going where at Akaroa but all sorted out at The Museum first stop. The tour around Christchurch was very informative. The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve was well worth a visit and as our group of 5 was the only group going here we had a guide from The Reserve just for us. Our guide was excellent. Our return trip to Akaroa was eventful when we had a double tyre blowout. We were about 20 minutes from Akaroa at this time so our driver phoned another driver in Akaroa and arranged for him to come and pick us up in his bus. We arrived in Akaroa later than expected but still ahead of the last cruise organised bus. Although not required it was reassuring to know if we were not back in time we would be taken to next port.

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

David B

3 star rating: Worth doing
February 2016

I would highly recommend the Willowbank Willdlife Reserve but not the first part of the tour. Our tour driver wasn't good. He was boring. More time should have been spent at the Wildlife Reserve

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Jill M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2015

Excellent tour. Really enjoyed the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and admittance to reserve was hassle free.

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

franky Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2015

Very good tour and excellent driver who went out of his way to please us.

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Yolanda S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2015

Our driver made the day with his enthusiasm and personal knowledge of the area. Enjoyed seeing Christ Church with him. His explanations and tour areas were very good. The guide in the Reserve was also very good. You could tell he loved his work and loved showing the animals in the Reserve. He even called them by name!

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Ronne R

4 star rating: Recommended
February 2015

Willowbank was pretty awesome. The city of Christcharch is still trying to recover from a 2011 earthquake. Tour was excellent.

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Francine G

4 star rating: Recommended
December 2014

The tour was well planned. Pick up in the morning and return to the ship was perfect. Our guide was very knowledgeable of the area and of Christchurch in particular. She took us to all the important areas and provided good photo opportunities. The only drawback is that Christchurch is a fair distance away and a long drive. The upside is that we got to see a lot of the countryside with on the spot information and anecdotes. The visit to the wildlife reserve was excellent and gave us an opportunity for a decent lunch. Highly recommended. Thank you

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Sherri

3 star rating: Worth doing
March 2014

Loved seeing the kiwi's and the performance was neat ! We had plenty to eat as well

Doing what: Willowbank Dinner and Maori Concert from Christchurch

Mario P

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
February 2014

Travelled with kids, and they simply loved it, lots to see and learn, a must see attraction if you going to Christchurch

Doing what: Christchurch Snow and Kiwi Tour

Lynne T

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
December 2013

We were disappointed with the driver and his knowledge and communication skills of the area. He was a concern with his driver fatique , we felt he needed Driver Fatique management training. Our concern came on our way back to Akaroa around the winding hills and the weather was wet. He definetly needs training in all areas and be reassuring the safety of all. Not a Pleasant experience

Doing what: Akaroa Shore Excursion: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch City Tour and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Mandy K

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2013

The tour was very informative , we enjoyed the show , the staff were were very friendly and the meal was generous however not to our liking .

Doing what: Willowbank Dinner and Maori Concert from Christchurch

David J

4 star rating: Recommended
March 2013

Interesting exhibits, with penguin feeding and commentary especially enjoyed. Ride on Hagglund altogether too wild for over 70's like ourselves - threw us around too violently to be appreciated. Wildlife Centre guided visit to native bird section was enthralling, close proximity to native and rare birds a real privilege.Dinner at the Casino was lovely.

Doing what: Christchurch Snow and Kiwi Tour

Sally F

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
October 2012

It would have been better if at least the actors looked like Maori. We attended something similar on the north island a few years ago and it was much more original. Too much effort trying to get audience participation.

Doing what: Christchurch Maori Concert and Kiwi Viewing

Amar D

3 star rating: Worth doing
July 2012

the tour was ok as I was with teenager children. But the city is still not alive because of earthquake. So my group was me and my children only.

Doing what: Christchurch Snow and Kiwi Tour

Christie H

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
July 2012

The Antarctic Centre and Willowbank Wildlife Centre are both great sights, but this tour was unfortunately somewhat disappointing. While we arrived at the Antarctic Centre before the 3pm departure time stated on the website, we barely had an hour there, missing out on some of the key attractions, before having to depart for the Wildlife Centre. The tour at the Wildlife centre began at 4:30pm for an hour, by which time the Reserve had closed (winter hours), and our driver was ready us rush off to the dinner destination. Dinner was fine, although in keeping with the rest of the tour, rather hurried. Again we were only allotted about an hour, and had only just got our mains when our driver returned to take us back to our hotel. Even though we would have made it back to our accommodation well before the 8:30pm finish time, only a small extension was offered, as the driver had another job to attend. We decided to make alternative arrangements.

This tour had a lot of potential, but perhaps the description needs updating, or additional information to let people that activities in the winter or off season (if that was the reason) are different to those stated. For example, the dinner wasn’t at the Wildlife Reserve, as described on the website. If you have very limited time in Christchurch, this tour might be worth considering. However, if you’re less restricted, neither of the sights are too difficult to get to on your own and there’s a free shuttle to the Antarctic Centre from the center of town.

Doing what: Christchurch Snow and Kiwi Tour

Mark W Australia

3 star rating: Worth doing
June 2012

The Antarctic Centre is alot of fun for kids and has some very interesting information for adults. We enjoyed the penguins, the Ice Storm room and reading about life in the Antarctic. The Haggalund is definitely worth doing. Willowbank was ok but wouldn't rave about it. We did get to see our first KIwi though. We had a bit of spare time before dinner so our driver took us on a little tour of the city and showed us some of the devastation caused by the Earthquake which we wouldn't have seen otherwise. We had dinner at the Casino which was really nice.

Doing what: Christchurch Snow and Kiwi Tour

jenny

3 star rating: Worth doing
January 2012

we had done this several years ago and this time i found it to be quite disappointing especially the food. there was not enough for the table of ten. i would recommend willow bank to anyone but unfortunately not the concert

Doing what: Willowbank Dinner and Maori Concert from Christchurch

Michael B Australia

4 star rating: Recommended
July 2011

It was a quiet day, so not all of the attractions were running as scheduled - except our tour guide made sure they did. The snow room and hagglund ride are a must - the 4D adventure comprised of getting squirted in the face with water (that was the 4th D)

Doing what: Christchurch Snow and Kiwi Tour

Philip H

4 star rating: Recommended
July 2011

Though the earthquake closed the Antartic Center, the tour operator did a great job of providing alternative arrangements. Our driver, Ross, was outstanding -- friendly and personable.

Doing what: Christchurch Snow and Kiwi Tour

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