Auckland is the first point of call for most visitors to New Zealand. Often, when the kids are clambering to go out and explore this entertaining new city, the cash flow can be running low, so cheaper outings are welcome. However, Auckland is a city with much to offer that costs little, and will keep the kids busy for hours, if not days!
Auckland is built on an isthmus, so the Harbour of Waitemata, in particular, is a major part of the city lifestyle. Beaches are everywhere and most of them are delightful spots for a day out with children. The sand is just begging to be played with, ideal for making castles or other forms of sculpture, and the water is usually warm and inviting. A cheap flutter board or goggles can expand a child’s capacity for endless fun on the beach. Other spots may offer chances to try a hand at fishing, or exploration of rock pools, collecting shells or pretty rocks, or even a game such as a beach volleyball for older kids. Kids love the adventure of a picnic on the beach (or in the hills), so pack up a rug and some food and find a lovely spot to settle and eat outdoors.
Auckland has a number of parks that may be an ideal place for a picnic or for a quiet stroll or an energetic run, and many have playgrounds for kids. Eden Park, the Auckland Domain and Cornwall Park are just a few of the better-known outdoor spaces where you can enjoy the freshest air of inner city living. Mt Eden offers the additional excitement of being a volcano (dormant) with steep sides for sliding or rolling down, plus exceptional views of the city and harbour to boot. Further afield there is Shakespear Park, where kids will also get to see farm animals in their natural environment. Trees are fun for kids and will be found not only in the parks but along the shores of many of the beaches as well.
Silo Park, on the waterfront, has an alternative entertainment with movies, events and markets keeping the pulse of the city entertainment beating. The nearby Marina is also a great place for kids to explore their dreams as they get an overview of some glorious boats and superyachts.
Walks or hikes can provide entertainment, whether through the best of the natural environment or perhaps the artistic world on a Sculpture Walk. There are a number of these within Auckland, in the Domain, along the Waterfront or at Epsom. Out of the city, Sculpture Walks are located at Warkworth, Waiheke and the Kaipara Coast. Walks in Nature can be found in a multitude of places, but perhaps look at a bush walk in the Waitakere ranges, a floral walk in the Botanical Gardens, a fossicking walk through the street markets or learn about the history of the city with a Heritage Walk.
Value for Money Days Out with the Kids
If you have a healthier budget, but still want a reasonably economic day out that will delight the kids, a game of Mini Golf is always a fun way to involve the family and there are a number of venues on offer in Auckland, with imaginative themes to inspire all comers. With prices just over $10 pp, take your entire family for a day in an Enchanted Forest, a Treasure Island or even go back into history in ‘Lost in Time’. Perhaps you would prefer an Ice Age adventure or to play amongst the Dinosaurs or try a glowing event in the dark park at Gloputt.
Catch the Fullers Ferry across from the city to Devonport, for a day of family-friendly adventures. The old bunkers and tunnels are ideal and safe for exploring, the Navy Museum handy for some information and the beaches for a cool off. The Ferry costs $12.50 return for an adult and half that for a child.
Another budget attraction is Butterfly Creek (Get a discount with BRC Super Saver Discount Card) where all the family can visit the farm animals for $13.50 per adult or $10 for a child. There is an additional cost to see other attracti+ons, but a train ride is $4-$5. Meanwhile, longer train rides at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, where a trip on a steam train to Waiuku will set you back $10 per child and twice that for an adult.
Break the Budget Outings
For a great nature adventure, perhaps a trip to Goat Island Marine Reserve will be just what is needed. The Discovery Centre admission is under $10 pp, while the boat outing is a little heavier on the pocket at $30 per adult and $15 for a child. Although a worthwhile adventure, plenty of huge fish can be seen and enjoyed from the shore. Although a little out of the Auckland city, the trip to Leigh is a great drive and can even be an overnight trip with beaches and farmlands all around to enjoy.
The Auckland Zoo is always popular with kids, with a good selection of animal displays to keep the youngsters occupied all day. Book in advance for cheaper prices (less than $20 pp) and the day out can be enhanced by the addition of one or more of the Zoo Animal Experiences where kids get to go behind the scenes, wander the Zoo at night or have close encounters with the best of the animals.
MOTAT, the Museum of Transport and Technology, now in two sites, is an amazing variety of Kiwi ingenuity, the history of technology and transportation and collections and exhibits that are an informative and educational day out.
A day at a theme park might be just what the family needs. Rainbow’s End, found at Manukau, near the International airport has recently opened a popular AA Driver’s Town where children can have an on-the-road experience. Together with all the other fun activities, this attraction is a day of excitement for all kids.
One of the favourite places to visit, right on Auckland’s waterfront, is Kelly Tarleton’s Sea Life Aquarium, where the wildlife of the oceans swim silently about overhead as you venture through the undersea tunnels.
Kids will also love a day out at the pools at either Waiwera Hot Pools or Parakai Springs. Both areas have a selection of water activities to keep the family entertained for hours.
There are many other activities in Auckland that children will love, and many days can be filled with holiday fun. Whether you wish to see Nature at its best or be entertained indoors, whether you seek a cheap outing or an expensive alternative, Auckland can offer the family a great selection of entertainments for the kids and their jaded parents. The hard part is the choosing!
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