We are excited to be over halfway through this innovative and complex two-year build spanning one-fifth of the Zoo to further our mission to bring people together to build a future for wildlife.

We begin opening the Track in phases this summer (2020), starting with our expansive high canopy habitat for orangutans, siamang gibbons and other primates. Following this, we’ll complete our lowlands habitat for tigers and otters, and by spring 2020, our swamp forest for Sunda gharial (crocodile) and other reptiles and fish will open.

This $60m build also includes renewal of infrastructure services and a stunning new café/ function venue overlooking our lake (opening summer 2020) – all part of Auckland Zoo’s 10-year Future Zoo development being funded through Auckland Council’s long-term plan.


The high canopy

A key aspect of our South East Asia Jungle Track is the creation of an expansive network of aerial pathways that can be re-routed in multiple ways. These start within their forested habitat and extend out and all the way across our central lake – offering our amazing primates (orangutans and siamang gibbons) a hugely stimulating and enriching environment, and the ability to always be arboreal.

Creating this network are nine 7m high canopy climbers (like the one pictured above) as well as 13 23m high poles (the height of a six-storey building!) and many hundreds of metres of specially woven ropes. Three different rope lines between each vertical structure will enable these primates to comfortably pass one another. Over the past year, large trees have also been transplanted into the high canopy – that link to these pathways.


Lake and wetlands

From the high canopy habitat, a boardwalk takes visitors out across our lake and wetlands and over to the swamp forest/tropical dome. As pictured, via a network of 23m high aerial pathways, orangutans and siamangs will also have a spectacular extended climbing range over this water body and great views across the whole Zoo!

The lake itself, already an important stormwater/sediment catchment area, has been fitted out with a state-of-the-art filtration system that includes native reed beds. This ensures water leaving the Zoo is of a far superior quality than when it first comes into the Zoo, and the ecological health of the lake is maintained.


The swamp forest

A large transparent climate-controlled tropical dome (a scientifically engineered environment) - 14m high at its highest point - will mimic the hot and humid climate of an Indonesian swamp forest for Sunda gharial (Asian crocodile) and other reptile and fish species. This unique habitat and the species that will live here, will be entirely new for Auckland Zoo.

As a visitor, you’ll certainly feel immersed. Our swamp forest will be a balmy 28 degrees year-round, and harvested rainwater will irrigate all the plants as well as feed the special misting and rain systems – which means, yes, you could get rained on in this tropical world!


The lowlands

Look forward to being immersed in the landscape and environment of Sumatran tigers and Asian small-clawed otters in our lowlands habitat that comprises three different areas. As prey animals, tigers like to be up high, so their habitat has high vantage spots as well as two aerial pathways (bridges). From here, these big cats can look down on visitors, as well as the otters, and out to many other areas of the Zoo, including the lake where they might spot orangutans or siamangs!

Elevated ridges, rocky areas, plantings and pools, give tigers the ability to leap across rocks and swim or rest in shady or open areas.  Like all this Track’s habitats, our tiger and otter areas will also feature shared shelters – places where animals and people come together, giving you our visitors, the opportunity to come eye to eye with these amazing creatures.

South East Asia is one of the most species-rich and threatened places on earth, with huge conservation issues and challenges. It’s a region close to the Zoo’s heart that has long been a focus for us, and one where we are very active in supporting conservation efforts, as this project reflects.

“As kaitiaki of Tāmaki Makaurau’s zoo and the environment, we’re so excited and proud of this world-class development that reflects all that we stand for, and is truly wildlife conservation science at work,” says Auckland Zoo director, Kevin Buley.

“Along with renewing the Zoo’s physical heart and providing incredible homes for our animals, its immersive design brings people and animals together – giving visitors a deep connection with nature and immersive experiences to inspire a love and care for wildlife, wild places, and each other.”


Journey around our Future Zoo!

Captured by drone this birds-eye-view lets you journey around our burgeoning South East Asia habitat.

Zoo News


South East Asia is due to be fully completed towards the end of the first half of 2020. There are four major areas within this, our biggest ever project, that are being created in stages. These include our siamang/orangutan habitat, our tiger and otter habitats, our Indonesian swamp forest (a magnificent climate-controlled tropical dome featuring crocodiles, other reptiles and fish), and a new café/function centre overlooking the Zoo’s central lake. It’s not possible to give dates at present, but we will be letting everyone know when these different areas will be opening.

Just two of our existing species can’t be seen currently. These are our orangutans, which have been relocated to Orana Wildlife Park where our primate keepers are looking after them while their new home is being created, and Madagascan ring-tailed lemurs. Our lemurs, currently being cared for in one of our behind-the-scenes facilities, are destined to be relocated to another zoo in the Australasian region. Long-term, we will welcome lemurs again, but this may be some years away. 

We are currently working on the fabulous new habitat for our Sumatran tigers and nearby new café. Just while we undertake some required works here, viewing into our current tiger habitat where our tiger Berani lives, is temporarily closed. However, these works will be completed by early April, so check back here soon for when you can next visit Berani.

Areas of construction have hoardings or fencing surrounding them, and our updated map clearly shows which areas these are and what pathways are accessible to you. Our fabulous volunteers, the friendly folk in red, are also out in force to help you.

It is worth noting that a significant part of the new South East Asia footprint incorporates areas that have not previously been home to animals and/or animal habitats.  In creating our future zoo, we’re maximising the beautiful green spaces we have. Our lake is being enlarged to create a bigger wetlands area, we’re creating larger and more enriching homes for our animals, and improving pathways for you, our visitors, to create even more immersive experiences.

Yes! We are excited to share that in addition to orangutans, siamang gibbons, tigers and otters, our new South East Asia area will be home to the stunning Asian crocodile species, the Sunda gharial, a rich diversity of fish species including Asian arowana and other reptiles. Potentially we may welcome some other new species as well. We will keep you posted!

Yes. As part of zoos’ international breeding programme for these Critically Endangered big cats, we will be welcoming more Sumatran tigers, who will have a home in our expansive new tiger habitat. A date for more tiger(s) arriving is yet to be confirmed.

It’s not possible to give an exact date, but our orangutans will be back at Auckland Zoo by early 2020.

Yes, as part of a zoos’ international breeding programme for these endangered primates, we will welcome more orangutans in the future. Dates for more orangutans arriving are yet to be confirmed.

No! Despite this build, there are now more animals to see and experience when you visit. Why and how? We’ve introduced new bird species in our Australia precinct, now have iguana on display, have welcomed the African antelope species, nyala, as well as African crested porcupines and Emperor tamarins. In addition, be sure to visit our Vet Hospital just along from our red panda habitat. Here in the public viewing gallery you can view into the hospital’s treatment room and operating theatre, and may see staff treating Zoo animals or injured animals from the wild

More animal encounters: Our dedicated Animal Experiences team of keepers are also out and about in the Zoo each day to surprise and delight you with many more impromptu encounters. These involve are additional to our advertised schedule of keeper talks/encounters. You’ll encounter our keepers in public areas with everything from birds, reptiles and bugs to our much-loved kunekune pigs. 

Yes.  We are building a stunning new café that will also be available as a function venue at times. Over 1000 m2, and elevated, it will look out over our central lake area, where via a network of climbing structures, our orangutans and siamang gibbons will have an extended climbing range. From the café’s deck, you may see them as you enjoy lunch or a light snack! 

Along with new toilet facilities in this new café, there will be additional new toilet facilities adjoining the new South East Asia area.

Yes, we have reduced our admission prices, as we appreciate that our visitors’ zoo experience can potentially be impacted. Same day/walk-up adult prices have reduced from $28.50 to $24.Children (4-14 years) are $13 and under 4s remain free. Booking in advance online offers further substantial savings.


Our weekly series filling you in on the exciting changes happening at our zoo!