The 5 Best Zoos in New Zealand You Should Visit [2024]

New Zealand is one of those countries that isn’t blessed with amazing wildlife and exotic animal species. If you want to experience wildlife in New Zealand, you will need to visit a zoo. From mammals and amphibians to reptiles and colorful birds, the zoos in New Zealand offer a spectacular sight of these animals in their natural habitats.

The best zoos in New Zealand are easily accessible to individuals of all ages and families or groups of all sizes. So, when you’re picking your next travel spot in New Zealand, visiting one of the zoos is a great place to start. Not to mention that it’s one of the best activities for families with children!

The 5 best zoos in New Zealand are: 

  • Auckland Zoo
  • Hamilton Zoo
  • Wellington Zoo
  • Brooklands Zoo
  • Orana Wildlife Park

From the country’s biggest zoo to one that costs no tickets at the entrance, here are 5 of the best zoos in New Zealand. From Auckland to Christchurch, if you’re looking for the perfect zoo for your next adventure, then keep on reading this article to learn more!

1. Auckland Zoo

Image credit: Auckland Zoo

First on our list is the very best and the biggest zoo in New Zealand. We’re talking 1400 animals of 135 different species in an area of 16.35 hectares. Located next to Western Springs Park, it’s about 10 minutes from Auckland’s CBD. Auckland Zoo is the ideal place to connect with mother nature and learn about the unique wildlife on Earth.

Ever since the zoo’s development in 1992, it has featured a variety of flora and fauna species. The most popular animals here are the red panda, tigers, elephants, meerkats, oh, and not to forget the national animal, kiwis!

The zoo is known for its historical presence in WWII and its service of trained chimpanzees. But as of the current times, Auckland Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of New Zealand species.

  • Tickets to the Auckland Zoo are NZ$24 for adults and NZ$13 for children. However, if you are a foreigner, then the international pass is going to cost you NZ$35.
  • Opening hours are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm throughout the week, with the best part being that the zoo is quite easy to navigate.

Website: Auckland Zoo

2. Hamilton Zoo

Image credit: Hamilton Zoo

Hamilton Zoo is another major zoo on North Island, covering around 25 hectares of land for wildlife. It hosts 600 native and exotic animals and a little under 90 species.

This zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions for both locals and foreigners alike. It has a family-friendly environment to keep people of all ages entertained during their trip. From picnic spots and kids’ playgrounds to delicious eateries and even an educational tour guide — Hamilton Zoo has everything you could ask for.

An interesting fact about the zoo is that it started out as a small park with game birds and a few exotic birds and mammals. But later on, in 1969, it was officially opened to the public as a zoo.

Hamilton Zoo has been constructed in the suburbs of Rotokauri and is situated on Brymer Road towards the northwest.

Although some exhibits and functions cost you a dollar or so, you can spend your entire visit in the zoo without spending any money (besides the ticket). Bring a bunch of snacks and drinks and enjoy the most exciting experience for you and your family.

  • An adult entrance ticket costs NZ$26, while tickets for children are NZ$12. To save money, you can opt for the group or annual pass options.
  • The best part about this zoo is the opening hours and days. You can enjoy talking to the rhinos, chimpanzees, meerkats, giraffes, and tigers any day of the week from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Website: Hamilton Zoo

3. Wellington Zoo

Image credit: Wellington Zoo

Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, hosts the first-ever zoo built in the country! Wellington Zoo is settled in the green belt of the city, with its exact location being 200 Daniell Street, Newtown, Wellington.

Spread over 32 acres of land; this zoo boasts about 100 species of animals from four different continents. As of 2023, it has been recorded that there are 500+ animals within the walls of the zoo.

Wellington Zoo is the best zoo in all of New Zealand because of its genuine dedication to animal welfare and conservation. The zoo has been credited as the world’s first Toitu Carbonzero zoo and is a figure of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The sun bear and the Sumatran tiger are the popular endangered species for conservation programs here.

One of the greatest things about Wellington Zoo is that they offer tourists a ‘Close Encounter’ experience. This is your chance at an exclusive and personal interaction with the animals of the zoo. Encounter options include capybaras, tigers, red pandas, giraffes, meerkats, lemurs, and the sun bear.

Besides all these animals, an insane new addition to the zoo is coming soon! The Wellington Zoo has officially opened its Snow Leopard habitat to welcome the Snow Leopard sisters, Asha and Manju. 

  • Tickets cost NZ$24 for adults and NZ$14 for children, and several other options for students, seniors, groups, and families. There are also cafes and snack bars outside and inside the zoo and pushchairs for the little ones.
  • Opening hours are from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm any day of the week.

Website: Wellington Zoo

4. Brooklands Zoo

Have you ever heard of a zoo that is open daily but charges no entry fees? Well, now you have! Brooklands Zoo is located on the West Coast of the North Island in the city of New Plymouth within the popular attraction site, Brooklands Park, right next to the amazing Pukekura Park.

Although Brooklands Zoo may be small, it’s indeed mighty! It offers a unique family-oriented environment and a lot of interaction with the animals. Zookeepers act as tour guides and provide great information, stories, and fun facts bout life at Brooklands Zoo.

Officially opened in 1965, the initial idea was a collection of aviary birds and harmless animals for the community to appreciate. This idea then expanded to creating bigger and better natural habitats for animals while still giving the community the same freedom to visit the animals.

From farm animals and a walk-through aviary of different colored birds to squirrel and capuchin monkeys, alpacas, and Kune Kune pigs — the zoo has a variety of animals and species to offer.

  • Ticket price – free.
  • The zoo is open seven days a week from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm to enjoy the lush and tranquil surroundings. After roaming around, you can leave the kids at the playground and have the perfect little date at the coffee cart.

Website: Brooklands Zoo

5. Orana Wildlife Park / Orana Open Range Zoo

Image credit: Orana Wildlife Park

Located on the outskirts of Christchurch, Orana Wildlife Park is the only open-range zoo in New Zealand. Spread over 80 hectares of land, it features about 40 species and is home to over 1,000 animals.

Also known as Orana Open Range Zoo, this zoo/wildlife comes under the Orana Wildlife Trust, which aims to conserve species on the brink of extinction. It’s renowned worldwide for the protection of endangered native and exotic species.

Opened in 1976, the fundamental idea was to offer a place of refuge to the endangered species, thus creating a natural habitat similar to theirs. A fun fact is that ‘Orana’ is a Maori word that refers to ‘ a place for seeking refuge,’ as in the animals finding a home in the wildlife zoo.

Animals finding home here include white rhinos, tigers, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, kiwis, Tasmanian devils, and New Zealand’s only gorillas. The zoo provides unique animal encounters such as hand-feeding a giraffe, meeting a rhino up close, seeing New Zealand’s only gorillas, feeding kiwis, and petting a domestic farmyard.

However, the experience everyone goes crazy about is the world-famous lion encounter. Visitors are loaded onto a specially constructed vehicle that drives through the lion sanctuary. Once the caretaker feeds them from the inside, the lions will surround and climb on the cage-like vehicle giving a close view of the King of the jungle!

  • This is a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience that you can witness at the Orana Wildlife Park. Tickets for adults cost NZ$39.50 and NZ$12.50 for children, and the zoo is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Website: Orana Wildlife Park

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