A Christchurch tourism business with a strong focus on conservation, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve recently won a top award in the 2017 Champion Canterbury Business Awards.
Owned and operated by the Willis family which founded the business 40 years ago, Willowbank combines native wildlife with nature and culture. The attraction welcomes more than 120,000 visitors each year and growing, and is popular with locals and domestic and international travellers.
Innovative display techniques focus on creating a natural environment and an up-close and personal interactive experience with some of the country’s native species. There are around 50 different types of animal with Willowbank the first operator to open a glass-free nocturnal house for kiwi in a natural environment, guaranteeing visitors viewings every time.
Conservation is part of the Willowbank ethos. Staff and owners work alongside the New Zealand Conservation Trust, particularly on its kiwi-breeding program ‘Operation Nest Egg’.
Willowbank’s Wildlife Hospital, Education and Research Centre is involved in the conservation and preservation of New Zealand wildlife. A veterinary hospital, it cares for orphaned, injured or ill wildlife. The facility and its staff are available to Department of Conservation, vets, tertiary students and conservation groups who can gain hands-on experience and training with wildlife not otherwise available in the South Island.