A large lizard in its enclosure at the Auckland Zoo, New Zealand.

© Anna Bakker/Getty Images/iStockphoto

At this modern, spacious zoo, the big foreigners tend to steal the attention from the timid natives, but if you can wrestle the kids away from the tigers and orangutans, there's a well-presented NZ section. Called Te Wao Nui, it's divided into six ecological zones: Coast (seals, penguins), Islands (mainly lizards, including NZ's pint-sized dinosaur, the tuatara), Wetlands (ducks, herons, eels), Night (kiwi, naturally, along with frogs, native owls and weta), Forest (birds) and High Country (cheekier birds and lizards).

Check the website for the times of zookeepers' talks, Behind the Scenes experiences and ongoing progress of the zoo's new South East Asia display (scheduled to open in late 2020). Catch the number 18 bus (adult/child $5.50/3) from bus stop 1362 (corner Victoria and Albert Sts) in the city to bus stop 8124 on Great North Rd, from where it's a 700m walk to the zoo's entrance.

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