Feeding the lions!

When I arrive at Christchurch International Airport my favourite car rental company  (Rental Cars New Zealand) has a car ready for me and I immediately  head to Orana Wildlife Park to feed the lions!

I recall my father being very dubious about a brother giving a little money to support the idea of a wildlife park and now, how surprised he would be to see what a successful place it has become. My kids have always loved a day at the park and especially driving into the lion enclosure, always hoping a lion would rub against our vehicle. This has since stopped because of stupid people who could not follow directions about keeping windows up – endangering not only themselves but also the lions and Orana staff.

I don’t have to worry about windows on this safari! I’ll be in a cage and the big cats will be fed through the wire with the big chunks, hair and bone included, down a chute.

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Planes fly overhead and memories of previous trips waft through the air, along with the smell of exotic pines and eucalyptus mixing with our native trees and the hot dusty Christchurch summer breeze. Families, young couples, the Christchurch Star’s Christmas party group, mingle with groups of tourists – all enjoying the day and its surrounds.

I have my ticket and a stamp on my arm, which guarantees my entrance into the lion’s den and arrive early at the gate in anticipation: it’s a hard day at the office – NOT!  I have two cameras and a backup battery primed for the lion encounter, an well-worth extra on the entrance fee.

Before long our guide arrives, we’re given a safety briefing then are led to the vehicle. We, about 20 of us, are chattering excitedly. Being up close to the King of the Jungle, Leo, the symbol for my birth month is thrilling.

We leave our bags at the entrance and go into the wire-caged truck back and before we push through the gates are again reminded to keep our fingers inside the vehicle. We are not to attempt to touch the lions – they’re cats but not as we know them!

It’s a wonderful experience, and my only regret is it doesn’t last long enough … that we didn’t stay still for a few minutes after the last food has been given to them, so we could just watch them.

However I’ll let the pictures tell part of the story … for best results, have a lion encounter yourself!

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To get to Orana Park see here … including taking a shuttle from the city and here is their Facebook page

Interestingly, most of the endangered animals at the Park do not belong to Orana Wildlife Trust but to the relevant international breeding programme which makes decisions about which females are best bred with which males to make sure the most diverse gene pool possible in the captive populations. From time to time animals are moved between various zoos and parks to enhance the genetic diversity of their particular species. See here for more of their conservation activities

More stories from my Orana Wildlife Park visit to follow … also other Christchurch stories including about the lovely Eliza’s Manor House where I stayed.

 

Christchurch Heritage: in both name & history!

Heritage reopens!

A pre-quake photo I took on a day I was having a day spa here!

 

Passing this info on: wonderful news as yet more of Christchurch resumes!

 

"Heritage Christchurch opened its Old Government Building (OGB) doors on 1 August with a ‘soft opening,’ as the century old iconic building sparked to life again.

Heading the  opening team is Vicki Bretherton:

"I am absolutely delighted to be back in Christchurch in Cathedral Square, the heart of Canterbury. Like many of the team here, I feel very privileged to welcome guests to such an elegant building of great historic significance and be part of the rebuild and future of this great city,” says Vicki Bretherton.

Almost all the hotel staff are Cantabrians, including Sarah McIvor, front office duty manager who having left for Australia after the February 2011 earthquake, returned when she heard the Christchurch CBD was reopening.

“The reason I returned to Christchurch was to be part of the rebuild. When I heard the CBD was opening I dropped everything and got on the first plane back from Australia. Becoming part of the team reopening this amazing hotel is magic,” says Sarah McIvor.

Gary Jarvis the general manager of Heritage Christchurch for the past six years, which included two years of overseeing the extensive refurbishment of the grand Old Government Building, has been promoted to group operations manager for Heritage Hotel Management.

“Heritage Christchurch’s restoration has been a labour of love and I am personally delighted it has worn the test of time and seismic events to remain a vital part of Christchurch’s priceless heritage,” says Gary Jarvis.

The 100 year old OGB building, designed by Joseph Clarkson Maddison, is registered as a category one building on the Historic Places Trust register and has been described as of ‘monumental significance’ by architectural heritage experts.

The building was awarded the Christchurch Heritage Trust Built Heritage Award in 2010 and the New Zealand Seismic Award 2012 in the Canterbury Heritage awards.

The Heritage Christchurch, first opened in 1996 as a luxury hotel, was relatively unscathed in the 22 February 2011 earthquake, but remained inside the imposed red zone cordon for over two years whilst renovation plans were finalised.

The Heritage Christchurch’s Old Government Building will be formally reopened on Friday 20 September by His Excellency, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand.

travellers, the quake & the web!

Even an earthquake won't stop us having the free use of wireless internet at the Christchurch library 1pm 8th Sept 2010