New Zealand is known for its amazing views and some of the most amazing wildlife anywhere here in the world, both on land and in the water.
While the best possible view of any animal is in its natural habitat, that is not always possible, which is why the zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks of New Zealand are so important.
To see these animals up close and to learn more about New Zealand’s most astonishing wildlife, but don’t have the time to travel across the expansive country to do so, this is the sightseeing list you have been looking for!
Make sure you check out some of these parks and wildlife refuges located throughout New Zealand.
- Best Zoos & Aquariums in New Zealand
- 10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in New Zealand – Summary Table
- New Zealand Safety Overview
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Zoos & Aquariums in New Zealand
Auckland Zoo holds not only the distinction of being the largest zoo in New Zealand, but it is also one of the most diverse in the country.
This one zoo offers a home and place of refuge for over 120 different species of animals.
The zoo sits upon a 17-hectare space adjacent to the Western Springs park in Central Auckland.
The animal enclosures are natural and aimed to mimic their native habitats.
Visitors can see red pandas, kiwis, tigers, elephants, and meerkats among many others.
There are many scheduled feeding times and the staff is always giving talks and demonstrations at the animal enclosures throughout the zoo.
The zoo in Auckland is popular among residents and tourists alike who want to see some New Zealand native animals and more exotic species up close!
This is a definite stop for any visit to New Zealand.
In the West Coast city of New Plymouth in New Zealand, there sits a small yet stunningly beautiful family-orientated zoo.
Visitors to the Brooklands Zoo can enjoy a casual and intimate walk through a zoo that is perfect for children and families of all ages.
Although it is a small zoo compared to many others in the country, it still offers plenty of activities and things to do and see.
It is also very affordable, which makes this a great choice for an animal-loving day trip with friends or family.
Located beside the iconic Pukekura Park, Brooklands Zoo has a nice layout that is easy to explore and navigate.
The variety of animals to see and learn about include farm animals, birds in the walk-through aviary, squirrel monkeys, otters, meerkats, and more.
There is also a kid’s play area and even shopping and food options for the adults to enjoy as well!
One of the most highly rated attractions in the area, Hamilton Zoo contains hundreds of different species of animals.
The zoo is nestled in the Hamilton suburb of Baverstock where a large farm once stood.
This unique setup allows for spacious exhibits for all of the animals and wide walking areas for visitors to enjoy as well.
Hamilton Zoo offers a great day out for families and visitors of all ages.
It has a very relaxing atmosphere and it also provides play areas for kids, shopping and food options, and a lovely picnic area.
Whether you are a local or are visiting friends and family, this is a great place to spend the day!
The talks and demonstrations help to highlight the most popular animals in the zoo, which include rhinos, tigers, chimpanzees, giraffes, meerkats, and more.
Be sure to check out Hamilton Zoo the next time you are in the area- you will be glad you did!
Anyone visiting New Zealand really should not leave without seeing a kiwi up close and a great place for doing just that Kiwi North.
These odd yet intriguing birds are the symbol of the country and truly must be seen to be believed they are so unique and unlike any other bird in the world.
Located in the beautiful Northland city of Whangarei, Kiwi North is famous among locals.
It is the only kiwi house in the region that houses these birds and allows visitors the chance to watch them carry live as they would in the wild, foraging, socializing, sleeping, and interacting with each other.
The house also is home to New Zealand’s oldest reptile, the tuatara, a species that has survived more than 250 million years on the islands.
You can enjoy the beautiful scenery, walking paths, exhibits, vendors, and other activities while visiting Kiwi North.
ORANA WILDLIFE PARK
Aside from beautiful exhibits and stunning animals, this park is known as New Zealand’s only open-range zoo.
And it was created to highlight endangered animals in their natural, habitat and environment.
“Orana” means “place of refuge” in the native Maori language, which is a fitting name for this one-of-a-kind wildlife park.
There are many unique and fascinating animals to see, including cheetahs, giraffes, white rhinos, tigers, and New Zealand’s only population of gorillas.
One of the most popular things to do in the park is the lion safari drive where you can get right up beside lions and even have the chance to feed them!
It’s a fantastic safari-like experience everyone will love.
And even for the less adventurous family members, the exhibits and animal talks are enough to keep anyone’s attention.
PARADISE VALLEY SPRINGS WILDLIFE PARK
Looking for a relaxing day trip that the entire family can enjoy?
Then this is the New Zealand park you do not want to miss!
The Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park has a couple of areas that come together to create a unique and memorable attraction.
There are the surprisingly intriguing trout springs nestled along the dense New Zealand bush that has easily navigated trials winding around beautiful cascading streams.
You can also easily walk over to the lion park and get closer than you ever have to African lions that have lived in the park since the 1970s.
Feeding time for the big cats is 2:30 pm every day and simply cannot be missed!
There are many other amazing animals to see and interesting things to do at this park.
Be sure to add the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park to your itinerary when you are visiting New Zealand!
PUKAHA NATIONAL WILDLIFE CENTRE
As a designated breeding and wildlife protection facility, the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre is among the most treasured animal sanctuaries for residents and locals.
It is home to some of New Zealand’s most endangered, protected, and precious animal species.
It is located on more than 942 hectares of forested land and is a quick 20 mins drive from Masterton.
In addition to the important breeding work that goes on, there’s another attraction that makes Pukaha National Wildlife Centre such a special place to visit.
This is where you can catch a glimpse of Manukura, the only white kiwi in captivity.
Meet the perky kiwi and marvel at the wonders of Mother Nature.
Manukura has many other amazing kiwi friends to keep them company.
People also enjoy feeding times and listening to the keeper talk about the other animals found at the center.
This is one place you definitely should check out if you have the chance while visiting New Zealand.
New Zealand’s capital city has one of the best zoos in the country.
It is famed for housing hundreds of species of animals that can be found scattered across four different continents.
It also carries the distinction of being New Zealand’s first zoo with an official founding date of 1906, making it nearly 120 years old!
One of the most popular attractions offered at the Wellington Zoo is what is known as a ‘Close Encounter’ experience.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you can have a personal and private encounter between you, the zookeepers, and the animals.
Get a behind-the-scenes experience that goes far behind any normal zoo visit!
These encounters can be booked to get up close with the giraffes, capybaras, lemurs, red pandas, meerkats, and even cheetahs.
It’s a fantastic way to make an outing an experience you and your family and friends will never forget!
THE NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF NEW ZEALAND
Looking for a way to get up and close and learn more about the fish and marine animals that swim through the world’s oceans?
If so, the National Aquarium of New Zealand is a great place to add to your must-see list.
Despite its smaller size, there is still plenty to do and see, and it makes for a great day trip
Formerly known as Napier Aquarium, it is a public aquarium on Marine Parade in Napier.
Originally, it opened in 1957 elsewhere and moved to its current location in 1976.
It is filled with fresh and saltwater fish, marine animals, and engaging exhibits!
You can also enjoy a guided tour and watch the fish and animal feedings that are scheduled throughout the day.
Get up close and personal with over 100 species of ocean life as well as reptiles, kiwis, penguins, and more!
There are also vendors and food options to choose from to make the most of a perfect day trip in Napier.
THE ARCTIC ATTRACTION
The Arctic Attraction at the International Antarctic Centre is within quick driving distance from the Christchurch International Airport and is a great way to learn more about the animals of the Arctic.
This unique wildlife park allows you to experience this frigid region in comfort.
Get as close to visiting the artic as you can with interactive exhibits, technological games and displays, a real ice slide, and much more!
The New Zealand Penguin Encounter is the country’s first combined indoor/outdoor penguin viewing area that allows visitors to see the more than 26 rescued Little Blue penguins.
If you are looking for a fun and unique day trip, this is a wonderful opportunity to see a part of the world and learn about animals that you would otherwise not be able to.
Be sure to add this unique penguin encounter to your to-do list when visiting New Zealand!
10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in New Zealand – Summary Table
|Zoos & Aquariums
|Motions Rd, Auckland 1022, New Zealand
|30 Brooklands Park Drive, Brooklands, New Plymouth 4310, New Zealand
|183 Brymer Road, Rotokauri, Baverstock 3289, New Zealand
|500 State Highway 14, Maunu, Whangārei 0179, New Zealand
|ORANA WILDLIFE PARK
|793 McLeans Island Road, Harewood, Christchurch 8051, New Zealand
|PARADISE VALLEY SPRINGS WILDLIFE PARK
|467 Paradise Valley Road, Paradise Valley, Rotorua RD2 3072, New Zealand
|PUKAHA NATIONAL WILDLIFE CENTRE
|85379 State Highway 2, Mount Bruce 5881, New Zealand
|200 Daniell Street, Newtown, Wellington 6021, New Zealand
|THE NATIONAL AQUARIUM OF NEW ZEALAND
|546 Marine Parade, Napier South, Napier 4110, New Zealand
|THE ARTIC ATTRACTION
|38 Orchard Rd, Christchurch, New Zealand
New Zealand Safety Overview
READ THE FULL REPORT: New Zealand Safety ReviewSafety Index:
- OVERALL RISK: LOW
- TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
- PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
- NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
- MUGGING RISK: LOW
- TERRORISM RISK: LOW
- SCAMS RISK: LOW
- WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Frequently Asked Questions
How far in advance should I get tickets/passes?
The time of year will be the biggest factor to consider as the more people on vacation and the more tourists there are, the more likely places are to fill up or sell out of tickets or passes.
Do most places have areas to get out of the elements?
Most zoos and aquariums have an indoor area to get out of the sun or rain.
The more safari and outdoor-focused centers might not have as much covered space.
What can I bring into the parks- food, drinks, etc?
Your best option is to call ahead and see what limits there are and what is and is not allowed to be brought in by visitors to the park.
How much does it cost to get in?
Each zoo or wildlife center will have its own prince range and schedule, so be sure to ask about off-season deals and other discounts and savings that might be available.