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History - Willowbank Wildlife Reserve & Restaurant


Founded by the Willis family more than four decades ago, Willowbank is still owned and operated by members of the founding family.  With more than 120 000 annual visitors, and growing, Willowbank is popular with local, national and international visitors.


New Zealand’s most comprehensive NZ themed wildlife park, the Willowbank experience tells the story of our country’s natural heritage.  Using pioneering and innovative display techniques, with an emphasis on creating a natural environment and an up-close and personal interactive experience, Willowbank showcases one of New Zealand’s best displays of native species.  Willowbank was the first to open a glass-free nocturnal house for kiwi in a natural environment, guaranteeing viewings every time.


Willowbank remains true to three main goals:

1) to be part of the conservation of species

2)  to educate customers and advocate for wildlife

3) to provide entertainment to families and visitors

Willowbank is a New Zealand leader in conservation, with success in many national, Australasian and in-house breeding programmes focusing on New Zealand native and endangered species, as well as many rare and heritage breeds of farm stock.  Scientific research projects, and local partners including the Department of Conservation, the Styx River Living Laboratory, the Rare Breeds Society, the NZ Conservation Trust and the South Island Wildlife Hospital, are supported by and work alongside Willowbank.


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