Reopening week for the popular Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary in Whangārei, which houses lions and other big cats, is just around the corner.
Remedial work is nearly complete and park owners Bolton Equities are waiting for the final sign-off from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), which ordered the once-popular tourist drawcard to close in mid-2014.
The closure was to enable the upgrade of animal enclosures to meet new standards.
Although the park owners are not in a position to announce an opening date, they say the plan was to reopen the park sometime this month subject to the final sign-off.
When it reopens, visitor numbers will be strictly limited so the cats can slowly adjust to having more human friends and those intending to visit must book online.
People who turn up without bookings won't be permitted on the premises.
"These cats haven't seen huge crowds since the park closed and that's why numbers will be limited," operations director Janette Vallance said.
She couldn't say what the numbers would be or give other details.
Tour or school groups are requested to arrange their bookings with the park's office by telephone.
The park cannot accept bookings for unaccompanied children 15 years and under.
"By booking ahead we make sure you are not trying to see our beautiful cats over the heads of lots of other people, and, the cats don't get stressed by too much activity around them."
Vallance said there was a little more to do to get the park and the cats ready for opening day.
The park is encouraging people to register online so they'll be the first to know when ticket sales open.
Bolton Equities has spent more than $1 million on remedial work since taking over from previous owners Earth Crest in mid-2014.
The park has 20 big cats – one leopard (the only one in New Zealand), one cheetah, three tigers and 15 white, African, and Barbary lions.
It was formerly known as Zion Wildlife Gardens, and was once owned by Craig Busch, who gained global fame through the television series Lion Man which was shot there in the past.
Tragedy struck the park in May 2009 when big cat handler Dalu Mncube was mauled to death by a 260kg white tiger in an enclosure as horrified visitors watched.
Go to www.bigcats.co.nz for updates.