On the Bucket List – finally a visit to Orana Wildlife Park. New Zealand's only open-range zoo, sitting on 80 hectares of land, it was opened in 1976, and is owned and operated by the Orana Wildlife Trust, a registered charity. We paid our entrance fee (reduced prices for pensioners) and set out to explore.
First up was to see the ever alert meercats. While one or more are on sentry duty, the others busily go about the very important business of digging around looking for insects to eat.
There was one lonely little meercat in with the porcupines, she was a solo female and it was not safe for her to be put with the other family group as she was in danger of being attacked. She was zipping in and out between the porcupines (we had never seen a porcupine before) as they were being fed their breakfast, making off with several tasty morsels.
Two porcupines and their meercat house guest
The native bird aviary was close by and we saw pretty little kakariki (red crowned parakeet) gobbling up a selection of fresh fruit. And I was thrilled to see a bell bird – this is only the second time I have seen one of these elusive little songbirds – they are not easily spotted in the wild.
Kakariki and bell bird
We decided to jump on board the free shuttle and get an overview of the park, and a running commentary. It was a stinking hot day and this would save our legs.
The Great Ape Centre was next, and the Orang-utans were happily perched up high, enjoying the sun shine in their outdoor enclosure. They had some sacks, which they placed on top of their heads while snoozing, then removed them, luckily for us to take some shots.
Next door were three gorilla brothers, Fataki, Fuzu, and Mahali. Fataki, being the silverback, was much bigger than the other two. He was a real poser, and certainly knew that a crowd of people were watching him through the glass, looking straight at us, then turning his face away. Then he wandered outside to sit in the long grass – such a magnificent animal.
Fataki the silverback gorilla
We hopped back on the shuttle bus to take us to the other end of the park to see the big cats. On the way we passed by:
Rhinos snoozing in the sun
Bison and Water Buffalo
The big cats are always crowd favourites, and we entered Tiger Territory to see the two male tigers being fed.
They pounced on their hunk of meat which was tossed over into the enclosure, and settled down to enjoy their meal.
Feeding the tigers
When we think of Orana park, we think of lions. When the park opened back in 1976, it contained 18 lions (including 6 cubs), 2 tiger cubs, 2 donkeys, 2 camels, 2 water buffalo and 2 Shetland ponies. The donkeys and camels seem to have departed, but the lions are still going strong, with two separate prides.
And for a mere $45, a customer could go on a “Lion Encounter”, and stand on the back of the truck while the lions were fed. Not for us, we thought. Hopefully they are keeping all their body parts safely tucked away as the lions climbed up on the cage on the back of the truck.
What’s on the menu?
We had a great day and enjoyed our visit to Orana Wildlife Park. That’s something else now ticked off our list. Later in the evening we returned to see son Michael one last time during our trip to Christchurch (we were departing the next day) and shared a real Kiwi meal of fish and chips with him.
Michael and Robin