Remedial work at Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary is taking longer than expected and the latest indications are the park is likely to reopen next summer.
If it opens when predicted the complex formerly known as Zion Wildlife Gardens will have been closed for more than a year since its new owners, Bolton Equities of Auckland, bought the park in early 2014.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) first ordered the park closed to the public between July 1 and July 31, 2014, while the animal enclosures were upgraded to meet new standards.
MPI then extended the closure until August 31 but the upgrading has still not been completed.
Martin Weekes, a director of Bolton Equities, said yesterday most of the upgrades had been finished. There were six new enclosures yet to be completed, however.
"The new enclosures are not MPI requirements but ours in terms of our operation because we need more space for the existing animals and new ones if we decide to get more."
He said the new enclosures could be subdivided into smaller ones should the need arise, but it depended on the size and number of animals.
Mr Weekes said the new owners would continue the remedial work and with good weather speeding things up the park was likely to be reopened next summer.
"It was quite a challenge finding builders in the first place but when we got down to the construction process, we found the work was much bigger than expected," he said.
"From our perspective, public safety and the welfare of the cats are our priority so we want to make sure those two things are done to the best of our ability."
Mr Weekes said the park continued to receive good support from locals in Kamo who donated their livestock while the complex was closed.
Once all the remedial work was completed and the park was ready to welcome visitors, the owners would be required to apply to MPI to resume public tours.
The ministry usually does inspections on the park every four to six weeks. Currently 34 big cats live at the park.