To visit Willowbank is to participate in a story. Willowbank is not just a wildlife park with a collection of exhibits - it is a holistic New Zealand wildlife experience.
Combining conservation, culture and New Zealand cuisine Willowbank is your opportunity to experience New Zealand's endangered wildlife in a natural setting. Take the opportunity to dine in our award winning restaurant, and enjoy Ko Tane - a pre-European Maori village and an interactive Maori cultural experience; all in one great location.
The story tells of the development of a young country breaking off from Gondwanaland, and the establishment of its wildlife as a 'step frozen in time'. It tells of the coming of the indigenous people and their impact. The arrival of the colonists and the mistakes and lessons that have have been made and learnt. It completes the story with a roadmap into the future, and how we can all take part in forging that future. It is a 'New Zealand Experience'
1) Wild New Zealand
The story begins through 'Wild New Zealand'. It starts with the impact on a fragile country of introduced species such as deer, wallabies, and a host of other animals, birds and plants, many of whom have altered the landscape and biota drastically. These lessons may have been hard and costly, but it is important that we learn from them, and make the most of managing the resources that make up our new but rich environment.
2) Heritage New Zealand
The journey continues through 'Heritage New Zealand'. As a country our history has left us with a rich and diverse livestock heritage, many unique to the regions they have evolved in. For about two centuries, vessels have been placing a range of breeds such as pigs, rabbits, goats, sheep and cattle on the various islands that make up New Zealand. Evolving into their own distinct breeds, the conservation of their genetics is an important component of the Park's conservation work. The heritage of our farming systems is important, and the 'Farmyard' illustrates early farming, livestock and mthods.
3) Natural New Zealand
The final part of your journey will take you through 'Natural New Zealand'. This is the national heart of New Zealand, and illustrates some of the species that make up our totally unique native wildlife, our flora, and our culture. Here you will see some of our most endangered species and learn about the work being done to preserve them. You will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of our indigenous people the Maori, and our hopes for the future.
At the end of your journey through Willowbank Wildlife Park, you will have a much better understanding of some of the elements that when brought together make us a nation of 'Kiwis'. We consider our environment and wildlife a precious heritage, and the provision of an opportunity to learn, relate to, understand and help conserve that heritage is the justification for Willowbank and our partners.