advertisement

Wellington Zoo is renowned for its work with endangered species, such as the Sumatran tiger, chimpanzee, white-cheeked gibbon, and Malayan sun bear. It’s also the only place in the capital to see the famous brown kiwi (the Kiwi House is open daily 9:30am–5pm) and the tuatara. The Tropical River Trail highlights a rainforest habitat, bird life, and several species of primates. An intriguing new feature is the zoo’s NZ$6-million state-of-the-art animal hospital, The Nest, where a glassed-in gallery allows you to observe the surgical rooms. Zoo staff give a running commentary during animal check-ups and operations (10am–4pm daily). In February and March, look out for Wild Summer Nights, when you can spend an evening at the zoo with a picnic (food outlets are available on the grounds) and listen to jazz or blues among the animals. Another interactive feature is the Close Encounters program, which offers the chance to hand-feed a red panda (must be 6 and over), a giraffe (6 and over), or the big cats (14 and over). All proceeds from Close Encounters go toward conservation projects.