Client Name: Auckland Council
Project Value: $12.5M
Location: Western Springs, Auckland
Completion Date: September 2011

The largest development in the Auckland Zoo’s 87 year history, Te Wao Nui covers 4 hectares (1/4 of the zoo) and is home to over 100 New Zealand native plant species and around 60 different animal species.

Te Wao Nui (The Living Realm) includes a replica kauri dam, a high-level hardwood boardwalk, a bird holding facility, aviaries, and numerous architectural faux rock, waterfalls and native landscaped areas.

Construction had to be carefully managed to ensure minimal impact on the zoo’s inhabitants and day-to-day operations. Maximum care was needed to keep zoo visitors safe during construction.


Working in a fully operational zoo creates some interesting challenges:

The fake rock within the aviaries and the pebbles in the streams had to be smooth to prevent the birds from getting bumble foot (blisters).

No vibrational screw piling or rock breaking was allowed, as this was too loud and would upset the zoo residents. Somewhat ironic given the volume of noise from the Tamarins in the neighbouring South American Rainforest…sometimes we weren’t able to hear ourselves on the phone!

All timber within the aviaries (4.7kms of timber decking) is Vitex hardwood sourced from the Solomon Islands – this is so birds cannot pick at any treated timber.


NZIOB Awards – 2012

Excellence – James Hardie Innovation, Brandon O’Reilly & Paddy Molloy, Te Wao Nui, Auckland Zoo

Excellence – Projects under $5M-$10M, Brandon O’Reilly, Te Wao Nui, Auckland Zoo