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Walk on the wild side with these animal encounters

Walk on the wild side with these animal encounters

There’s something special about seeing animals up close in the wild.

Walk on the wild side with these animal encounters
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Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, Maleny

Whether it’s the colossal splash of whale tail or the gentle rustling of a pademelon on the rainforest floor, you’re guaranteed to meet some of the Sunshine Coast locals on your next visit here – if you know where to go.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best places to spot animals in their natural habitat and meet who’s who in the zoo at our wildlife parks.

From kayaking with dolphins, hanging out with meerkats and riding a horse on the beach at sunset, here’s our top picks for a walk on the wild side on the Sunshine Coast.

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Ride a horse under a full moon

Pack up the trusty 4WD and hop in your saddle to experience the sheer beauty of Rainbow Beach on horseback.

Rainbow Beach Horse Rides
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Rainbow Beach Horse Rides

We’ve all dreamt of galloping along soft white sand as the moon rises over the ocean – and here you can actually tick this ‘pinch me’ moment off your bucket list.

Rainbow Beach Horse Rides offer monthly Beach Full Moon Rides along a pristine stretch of sand where the only sounds you’ll here are the gentle clip clop of hooves on the sand and the waves gently lapping the beach.

Meet a meerkat

So, you’ve fed kangaroos, cuddled a koala and watched whales frolicking in the ocean, but have you hung out with a meerkat?

Wildlife HQ (at the Big Pineapple), Woombye
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Wildlife HQ (at the Big Pineapple), Woombye

If not, you’ll get the chance to meet these cute, cuddly and somewhat chaotic creatures at the Sunshine Coast’s Wildlife HQ.

Located next door to the Big Pineapple, the Zoo is owned by Julie Seabrook, who looks after native wildlife as well as exotic animals from all over the globe.

And you don’t need to stop at meerkats either, with Wildlife HQ offering visitors the opportunity to be a zookeeper for the day as part of their VIP experience.

Spend the day exploring on a personalised zoo tour, before getting up close and personal with your favourite animals.

Swim with whales

Not only do Sunreef Mooloolaba offer epic tours during whale watching season,  you can get closer than ever before with their Swim with Humpback Whales experience from July to mid- October.

Swimming with Whales
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Swimming with Whales

Observe one of the largest - and most magnificent - mammals in the ocean from a different perspective for a completely organic and awe-inspiring bucket list experience you’ll never forget.[KR1]

Walk amongst birds

If you’re after a hoot of a time, spend the day at the iconic Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World.

These privately owned gardens - flanked by ancient rainforest - is set over 110 acres and looks out at the iconic Glass House Mountains.

Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, Maleny
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Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, Maleny

It’s also home to native and exotic birds with four walk-through aviaries home to more than 700 native and exotic birds including colourful Macaws and black cockatoos eager to make friends (yes, they will come and sit on your head!)

While you’re here, make sure to pay a visit to the garden’s resident songstress Coco and Amazon Parrot, whose shrill renditions of ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’ and warbling opera will leave you in stitches.

 Swim with rescued seals and sharks

Jump in the deep end and swim with rescued seals at  SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast.

Get to know and learn all about these loveable – and highly entertaining animals - during your Seal Swim session at Seal Island.

If you’re feeling extra bold, dive or snorkel with the resident grey nurse sharks and array of weird and wonderful marine creatures that call this beachside aquarium home.

Spot a platypus

They may be elusive but there are a few secrets spots you can spot the ever camera-shy platypuses on the Sunshine Coast.

Hit the road at dawn and head out on the Amama Platypus Walk in the Amamoor State Forest, a 2.5km circuit in the Mary Valley which winds past trickling streams.

The gentle Yabba Creek - just off Lake Borumba - is also home to these cheeky creatures so keep your eyes peeled while swimming or kayaking - particularly at dusk or dawn.

Kayak with dolphins

Friendly, graceful and oh so clever, there’s a lot to love about dolphins. 

So, why not experience the pure joy of watching them in their own habitat with Epic Ocean Adventures’ Eco Dolphin View Kayak Tour.

Epic Ocean Adventures, Rainbow Beach
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Epic Ocean Adventures, Rainbow Beach

Expert guides transport guests from Teewah Beach on Noosa’s North Shore in 4x4 vehicles to the pristine ocean kayaking location off Double Island Point.

There, you can watch playful bottlenose dolphins in their element while taking in the killer views of the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach and K’Gari (Fraser Island) from the Marine Park.

Walk with a tiger 

Take a walk on the wild side with a striking Sumatran tiger at Australia Zoo.

The Tiger Walk Encounter here gives guests the chance to join these beautiful, endangered creatures and their keepers on their daily walk, while raising money for the Zoo’s conservation efforts at the same time.