Five of the best: Petting zoos

Even if their eyes invite you to go closer, don't, crocodile-patting is not advised. Photo / Martin Sykes
Even if their eyes invite you to go closer, don't, crocodile-patting is not advised. Photo / Martin Sykes

'Tis the season for cute little baby animals, and don't you just want to pat them? Well, you can if you fancy, at one of these establishments

1. Kiwi Valley
308 Henderson Valley Rd, Henderson, Auckland. (09) 837 2952.

There's 7.3ha of fabulous farmland. And there's loads to do, from cuddling a bunny, hand-feeding a lamb to petting a pig. Maybe your little ones want to ride a pony, get lost in the maze, or enjoy a tractor trailer ride? There are also sheep to feed, donkeys, ducks, chickens and alpacas. Flax Cafe is there for when Mum or Dad need a cup of tea and a sit-down.

2. Butterfly Creek
Tom Pearce Drive, Auckland Airport. (09) 275 8880.

Buttermilk Farm is part of Butterfly Creek, and provides an interactive farmyard where kids (and their grown-ups) can get up close and personal with their favourite farmyard animals - kunekune pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, alpacas, cockatoos and doves too.

There's also a little train and a great cafe. But no crocodile-patting, okay?

3. Waitomo Big Bird B&B and Petting Farm
17 Waitomo Caves Rd, Otorohanga. (07) 873 7459 or 0274 772 707.

This is a farmstay with two self-contained cottages and three farmstay bed and breakfast rooms, and it's also open to the public from 2pm-5pm. Be charmed by the big birds, while everything else is miniature - the alpacas, donkeys, horses, highland cattle, pigs, goats as well as the mini cow and bull. Bookings essential for the two-hour farm show. And under-10s can ride the miniature pony.

4. Mt Albert Grammar School Farm
40B Alberton Ave, Mt Albert. (09) 846 0796.

Right in town, there's a wonderful working farm that most people don't know exists. Tucked between suburban streets as part of Mt Albert Grammar School, youngsters can milk the cows, feed the pigs and goats, bottle-feed lambs, cuddle the rabbits and experience a sheep shearing demonstration. Tours held every morning except Wednesdays, from 10.15am-11.15am, or by appointment. $4.50 per person.

5. Lilliput Farm Fun and Animal Park
136 Link Rd, Taupo. (07) 378 2114.

This is a little cracker of a farm, where you can hand-feed over 25 different types of animals and birds as you wander over 4ha. Bring a picnic and spend all day if you fancy. There are baby animals to cuddle in the barn and when you leave the cockatoos will bid you goodbye.

- NZ Herald