Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a family-friendly reserve on the outskirts of Christchurch. Meet both native animals and creatures from all over the world while supporting and contributing to Willowbank’s conservation efforts. Get close to all kinds of critters, from kiwi to kunekune pigs and everything in between. The Basics
Willowbank is home to a wide range of native animals, from endangered birds such as the kea and kiwi to rare farm species including the kunekune pig and Enderby Island rabbit. The reserve also has exotic species such as gibbons, capuchins, lemurs, iguanas, otters, and macaws.
Specially designed displays enable you to get close to many of these animals and learn more about them. Meet kiwi in Willowbank’s Nocturnal House; hand-feed many of the park’s animals, especially during New Zealand school holidays; or enter the lemur enclosure to feed and take photos with the furry critters. You can also book a ticket to Ko Tāne, a unique Maori cultural experience staged every evening in the reserve.
Guided tours are available in the late afternoon. Many visitors purchase tickets for a tour and for Ko Tāne in the same evening.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Willowbank is ideal for wildlife lovers and families visiting the Christchurch area.
- If traveling with kids, buy a discounted family pass for two adults and up to three children. Little ones love the reserve’s wide range of activities, including donkey rides, animal feedings, and the school holiday Junior Keeper program.
- Pick up lunch at the on-site café, or bring your own victuals and enjoy one of the park’s picnic areas.
- There is a luggage storage area in the main building.
- Willowbank is mostly accessible to wheelchair users. A loaner mobility scooter is available with advance booking.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is in Christchurch’s Norwood suburb, fewer than 30 minutes north of the city center by car; there is plenty of parking. If you’re not driving, catch the number 107 bus outside the Northlands Shopping Mall in Papanui.When to Get There
The reserve is open every day except Christmas. Afternoon is a great time to visit, as most of the animal feedings and encounters happen after midday. Plus you can go straight from a Willowbank tour to Ko Tāne. What to Expect at Ko Tāne
Upon arrival at the Ko Tāne Maori Experience, you are greeted with a powhiri
(welcome ritual) and then taken to an interactive village to learn more about traditional Maori life in precolonial New Zealand. After exploring the village, enjoy a kapa haka
(traditional Maori dance) by local Maori performers before sitting down for a 4-course dinner—including a main dish cooked in a hangi (a pit oven using heated rocks)—in Willowbank’s restaurant.