Started in 1939 as a trout sanctuary, Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park is now a popular destination for animal lovers of all ages. Visitors can feed and interact with many of the animals, most of which are native to the island.
Given New Zealand's isolation from the rest of the world, its flora and fauna evolved differently than continental creatures, and as such, New Zealand's wildlife is unique. While many New Zealand trips involve outdoor activities and visitors see much of its indigenous animals in the wild, the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park has the most interesting native critters under one roof.
Guests to the park explore the different wildlife sections, including the popular Treetops Canopy walk. A series of wooden bridges and pathways have been built high up in the trees, giving visitors a chance to wander through the native birds' natural habitat.
In addition to the animal exhibits, the park is also known for its natural spring. Before Europeans came, Maori tribes would bring their battle-wounded to the spring, because they believed it had medicinal properties. Magical healing power or no, the spring produces an unending supply of clean water with high mineral content, and guests can sample directly from the source or buy water from the recently constructed bottling plant.
Lions are native to Africa, but in the 1970s, the park operators acquired some retired circus lions, and the park has been raising and caring for lions ever since. If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the lions being fed daily at 2:30pm. When cubs are born, the lion-keeper will allow you to pet them free of charge.