The Auckland Zoo is the best in the country. There are still a few tigers in cages but the zoo is strong on spacious, naturalistic habitats and captive breeding programmes. The “rainforest walk” threads its way among artificial islands inhabited by colonies of monkeys, you can walk through the wallaby and emu enclosure unhindered, and the trailblazing Pridelands development has lions, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and gazelles all roaming across mock savannah behind enclosing moats.
Te Wao Nui
The zoo’s New Zealand environments are grouped as the brand-new Te Wao Nui, a major development divided into six environments – coast, islands, wetlands, forest, high country and a nocturnal section. It’s beautifully designed with loads of sculptures, water features and clever deceits such as entering a free-flight aviary through what appears to be a high-country hut. It is great to see the animals in something approaching their natural setting – kiwi are kept with ruru (native owls) and nocturnal flax snails; reptilian tuatara share island space with skinks, geckos and luminous green kakariki (parakeets); and penguins are found next to the fur seals.
There’s plenty on the desperate attempt to save various species from extinction, and you can even watch animals being operated on in the treatment room at the nearby Conservation Medicine Centre.