One of New Zealand’s most beloved visitor attractions is opening its gates again after 11 years.
Queenstown’s Deer Park Heights originally opened in 1966 and became a hugely popular attraction, where visitors enjoyed a self-drive safari-style experience on an 800ha working farm boasting some of the best views in New Zealand.
For the past 11 years it has been operating as a breeding and finishing/working deer farm, and this will continue after the park re-opens to the public from October 20.
The pioneering tourism destination attracted thousands of visitors over the years, and the Mee family are keen to welcome them back.
The technology has been updated, with a new online booking system providing an access code for a specific day for visitors to embark on a scenic drive and animal encounter. Open seven days a week between daylight hours, Deer Park Heights is still the great value, family-orientated experience it always was.
Visitors to the park on the sunny Kelvin Heights Peninsula can get up close and personal with red and fallow deer, goats, miniature horses, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and the delightfully different Kunekune pigs.
A $2 coin buys a tin of sheep nuts from a feeding station for some fun hand-feeding and a lifetime of memorable Instagram moments.
Visitors self-drive 5km up the road to several lookouts and stop to feed animals as they see them. At picnic spots, visitors can stretch their legs with a 20-minute walk to take in outstanding 360-degree views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. There’s no time limit on visits.
Movie buffs will recognise locations which featured in a range of Hollywood films such as Lord Of The Rings, Wolverine and Pete’s Dragon. Deer Park Heights has been in the same family for over 60 years and was one of the first deer farms in New Zealand to breed deer in captivity.
Owner Mike Mee says they’re keen to make it accessible for visitors once more because it’s “such a great place to go”.
“We were one of the Queenstown tourism pioneers when we opened at the same time as jetboat company Kjet and Skyline,” says Mike.
“Now we want to welcome visitors to a great fun, good value family day out for those who want to spend time in the outdoors and with our animals.
“To make it more family orientated we are limiting access to vehicles with up to 7-seats, excluding buses, minivans and commercial vehicles. Unfortunately there’s no access for hikers or cyclists from the tollgate as they tend to scare the animals away, especially the deer.
“It’s such an amazing location and it seems a shame to not share it.”
It’s just $55 to book a vehicle per visit and pre-bookings must be made through www.deerparkheights.co.nz. Access is limited to the day booked and visitors can only enter once. An interactive online map will guide visitors to movie locations and areas of interest.
The park is 4km along Peninsula Road from the Kelvin Heights turn off in Queenstown and entry is signposted.