Home to more than 500 animals, the so-called "best little zoo in the world" is the perfect place to hand-feed giraffes, frolic with a mob of meerkats or give a cheetah a tentative pat. Whether you're keen for an up-close-and-personal bucket list experience or satisfied with seeing the scaly, furry and feathered folk just doing their thing, there's tonnes of excitement to take in at the Wellington Zoo.
From the common clucky chickens to the rare and endangered Sumatran tiger, Wellington Zoo houses an impressive collection of the world's favourite fauna. Travel to the far reaches of the forests and deserts of the world with Asia's sun bears and white cheeked gibbons, America's cheeky capuchins and tamarins, Africa's boisterous baboons, lemurs and more. Closer to home, iconic Australian classics such as kangaroos and emus make an appearance, as well as plenty of New Zealand natives including kiwis, tuataras, kakas and keas.
If you're looking to amp up your animal encounter, you can give Charlie the Cheetah a cuddle, help the lion keepers train and feed the kings of the jungle, serve up lunch for the gentle giraffes, let the adorable red pandas snack straight from your hands or play with a family of meerkats. Conservation is a big focus at the Wellington Zoo – from all "close encounters", 10 per cent of the proceeds go directly to global conversation projects that support the very animals you are meeting and greeting.
Taking the bus is an easy way to get to Wellington Zoo, and a stress-free option on busy days when the carpark is known to fill up. Catch bus number 10 from Railway Station via Cuba Street, or bus 23 from Mairangi via Kelburn and Lambton Quay. If you're as ravenous as a hyena, visit Mojo at the Zoo for a fair trade coffee with your breakfast or lunch, or grab a light snack from the Tuck Shop at the heart of the park.