Auckland Zoo just seems to get better every time I go. I’m a sucker for the giraffes, can spend a good half hour watching the spider monkeys flinging themselves from branch to branch, and get embarrassingly excited every time there’s a baby animal of any kind in sight.
Today I was here to see Auckland Zoo’s reasonably recent addition Te Wao Nui, which covers a fifth of the zoo’s huge 17 hectare space. Te Wao Nui is a unique place where you can experience New Zealand’s native wildlife and plants in authentic settings.
On our tour we walked through Te Wao Nui’s six different habitats: The Coast (Takutai), The Islands (Moutere Rāhui), The Wetlands ((Ngā Repo), The Night (Te Pō), The Forest (Te Wao Nui a Tāne) and The High Country (Whenua Waotū).
In each habitat we saw something special. We watched long-finned eels being hand-fed by a keeper in The Wetlands, saw kiwi and a wide-eyed morepork in The Night, were introduced to a resident tuatara in The Islands, and in the High Country met a group of playful kea. The Forest, which celebrates our native birdlife, was so picturesque and peaceful that our guide admitted she often spent her lunch breaks here.
After exploring the superb Te Wao Nui, we were off to meet one of the zoo’s most beloved and iconic animals – Burma the Asian elephant. Under the watchful eye of her keepers, we were allowed to feed and then ‘pat’ her (for lack of a better word) – it’s an amazing feeling to have your hands on the largest land mammal in Asia.
So if you’re keen to check out Aotearoa’s beautiful landscapes in one place at Te Wao Nui, want to meet the animals on a guided tour, or simply wander through and say hi to all your favourites, the Auckland Zoo is always a great day out.
I’ll be by the giraffes...