New Zealand's Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve located in Christchurch, New Zealand, combines wildlife and culture into an entertaining learning experience that the whole family will enjoy. In addition to the diverse wildlife - with up to 500 animals, representing around 50 species – Willowbank offers an exciting cultural experience at the Maori village, Ko Tane, where participants can learn to do the Haka and discover the significance behind this unusual display which is performed by New Zealand's national rugby team. Participants will also learn to perform the Poi, Waiata a Ringa and enjoy the traditional rhythmic game of Ti Rakau.
To enhance the experience of observing the resident wildlife in their natural habitat, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve tells the story of the development of this isolated island country and the people who have come to call it home. Beginning with "Wild New Zealand", visitors will discover the impact of introduced species of flora and fauna on the environment, and the importance of managing natural resources for current and future generations. Continuing through "Heritage New Zealand" the reserve highlights the importance of preserving the unique genetic makeup of the country's livestock heritage. "Natural New Zealand" winds up the fascinating journey through Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, by offering insight into some of New Zealand's exceptional flora and fauna, much of which is endemic.
Willowbank places great importance on the conservation of endangered and endemic species. One of these is the Kiwi – a flightless bird with cat-like whiskers and feathers resembling hair. Because of its inability to fly – a skill which was unnecessary when Kiwis first evolved – the birds and their eggs are vulnerable to predators. This, together with loss of habitat, has led to dwindling numbers. Willowbank has dedicated a protected area of two hectares to allow Kiwis to breed, offering visitors the opportunity to observe them in their natural environment.
Among the many animals living at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve are fallow deer, ostrich, capuchin monkeys, wallabies, otters, parrots, macaws, gibbons and lemurs. In the Heritage section of the reserve visitors will find llama, goats, chickens, bantams and miniature horses. Natural New Zealand features long-finned eels, kea, tuatara, kiwis white herons and takahe.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve has a number of children's programs, and can also be hired as a venue for special occasions. Certainly, it has plenty to offer visitors to New Zealand's city of Christchurch.