"Willowbank is fun for all ages! The journey through Willowbank is an interactive and intimate journey, where visitors immerse themselves into the diverse and natural New Zealand environment. Many of the animals can be petted and will eat out of visitors’ hands! The first stop will be to see the very popular long-finned eels that gather hoping to be fed. From here, you will wander through areas of wetlands and Canterbury plains in Wild New Zealand and meet a variety of introduced species to NZ including deer, wallabies, lemurs, gibbons, monkeys and parrots just to name a few. The path then leads you through Heritage New Zealand with a wide variety of ‘rare breed’ farm animals set in an area depicting colonial agricultural New Zealand early farming years. The farmyard is fun and interesting for all ages. The final area of the reserve is Natural New Zealand; the home of New Zealand's big 5 - the kiwi, our bush parrot the kaka, the ancient tuatara, cheeky kea and very rare takahe. A unique experience with guaranteed kiwi viewing, no glass to hinder your view and kiwi are often only a few feet away in our nocturnal house which opens at 10:30 am daily. We also have an amazing cafe that serves both cabinet and à la carte meals along with a retail and gift shop - what more could you need! Session InformationThe Wildlife Park is open from 9:30am to 6 pm.The park is split into three sections (loops) - Wild NewZealand, Heritage New Zealand and Natural New Zealand."
Notes for card holders
"We are incredibly comfortable and experienced in having people with disabilities at Willowbank. If you are unsure and wish to have some reassurance on your visit, you’re welcome to contact the reserve so we can work with you to give you the best experience.As a safety precaution, we feel it is important to inform you that assistance dogs of any kind are not welcomed into the Kea walk-through enclosure as they will get attacked, and additionally, the nocturnal house, as animals can frighten the Kiwis greatly. It is also important to be aware of the hazards of animals along the route. We appreciate you accommodating our animals at Willowbank.We also acknowledge that having a disability can mean additional financial expenses and not often having the ability to experience adventures such as our park! We are so eager to have you here that we have provided you with discounted rates:Entry into the park: 20% off the listed full adult or full child priceSupport person: If this is highlighted as an issue for you on your Hāpai Access Card, then we would welcome a support person for free.We hope this means you can come to visit us at Willowbank!"
Standing and Queuing
In weekends, public and school holidays, there can be queues for ticket entry in the mornings. Normally, these subside after lunch so time your visit later in the day. Monday to Friday during term time is also a quieter time to visit.
The park is happy to provide you with a wheelchair if you cannot bring your own. The entire centre is wheelchair friendly, so if that’s the case for you, then do not stress! You are catered for here.
The Willowbank pathways are made of a hard metal surface (no seal) and are wheelchair friendly. However, the surface changes from grass, to gravel, to wooden panels with plastic netting overtop. As a result, we recommend all wheelchair users have an able-bodied companion to help (additionally with gates and inclines). Some of the pathways are a little too steep to navigate easily.
Access To Toilets
There are two toilet spots. One is in the entry building which has separate male and female facilities. Both of these have an accessible toilet; these can get busy so be aware you may have to have some patience if navigating through them in a wheelchair. There are also unisex toilets in the farm area, with one toilet having wheelchair access (this is a separate roomed toilet).
Here at Willowbank, we do allow registered assistance dogs onto our premises. As a safety precaution, we feel it is important to inform you that assistance dogs of any kind are not welcomed into the Kea walk-through enclosure as they will get attacked, and additionally, the nocturnal house, as animals can frighten the Kiwis greatly. It is also important to be aware of the hazards of animals along the route. We appreciate you accommodating our animals at Willowbank.Please let our park staff know on arrival that you have an animal with you.
Support person is free, except when accompanying a preschooler where they will pay 20% off the child rate.
Accessing Visual Information
There are multiple signs around the area, however nothing of great importance, so you won’t miss any important details from them. However, potentially check with staff about where you’re allowed to feed the animals and where you aren’t (this distinction is made clear with signs).
Accessing Audible Information
The majority of the information presented to you at Willowbank is visual, so you need not have a concern here.
We will do our best to help you if you have other disabilities, and we are keen to learn, so help us if you can do better by telling us what might help you have a better experience at Willowbank.