When travelling with children, I find that New Zealand wildlife attractions are a perfect way to keep them entertained. Not only does it provide a great day out but I also find that it’s educational too – finding out about different animals and their habitats, eating habits and general behaviour is not only informative for the kids but I tend to learn new things too. Having recently done some travelling with my young children during the summer holidays, here are two great animal attractions to enjoy:
Wellington Zoo, Wellington
OK so Wellington Zoo may not be the world’s biggest zoo but I still can’t believe how many animals they manage to house without it being overcrowded. I find that it’s easy to spend the whole day at the zoo but that you need to ensure that the weather’s fine to do it. One of the highlights of the zoo for my kids is the kiwi house where they spend quite a lot of time hunting for the kiwi and then trying to keep track of its whereabouts in the dark. They love the giraffes, especially when they come close enough to the fencing to actually touch them and they also love the watching the pelican at feeding time. Of course they spend most of their time playing on the playground, conveniently located next to the cafe providing me with my caffeine fix, and the stripped out jeep. If going as a large family, I recommend asking at the counter about the best deal for getting in as it can help you save some money on entrance tickets.
Paradise Valley Springs, Rotorua
I must admit that I was a little skeptical about Paradise Valley Springs. I got the tickets as part of a promotional offer the Rotorua i-Site were doing when I came to book a cultural Maori performance and as it was advertised as a trout and lion park I wondered what on earth we were likely to see – lions being fed trouts, surely not? The park was probably the biggest surprise – I found it amazing and so did the kids. The first thing we saw was a lion cub in an enclosure with a member of staff. The staff member invited us into the enclosure to stroke the cub – wow what an opportunity, to actually touch a lion is not something you come across in most wildlife parks. Anyway my husband stepped forward for a quick stroke of the cub but I have to admit I wasn’t 100% sure of how safe it was and neither were the kids. We then went on to buy some animal feed and feed the array of lamas, goats, sheep and other petting zoo-style animals around the park. We also had a quick look in the river for the trout too, seeing as they were one of the main advertising attractions. Then it was off to a separate part of the park to see the lions being fed. Expecting just a couple of lions I was surprised to see virtually a whole pride – two males (father and son) and at least five or six females. The staff came out and explained that they were going to make the lions work for their food, hiding it around the enclosure before letting the lions out. Well the lions had no problem finding the food and after seconds the two males had even got into a fight over the biggest piece. It is the first time I had ever experienced lions fighting and it was amazing, and a tad frightening too! But I doubt we were as frightened as the man who stepped towards the fence to take some pictures, just as one of the male lions lunged at him through the fence. All in all, I’d say that Paradise Valley Springs is the best animal attraction I’ve ever been to!
So if you’re heading to either Rotorua or Wellington with the kids (or even without them), make sure these animal attractions are on your itinerary.