As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is a melting pot of culture, full of delightful activities for families with children of all ages. The best part is, many of their most amazing attractions are free! No matter what kind of adventure activity you’re looking for, Auckland has everything you need to get the most out of your weekend. Here is a list of the best things to do with kids in Auckland:
At the center of the Domain sits The Auckland War Memorial Museum. Inside you’ll find the entire first floor is dedicated to the indigenous Maori and Pacific culture. Browse the beautiful intricate carvings and giant canoes made from a single tree This is the best kind of learning experience for families, offering a little taste of local culture.
Visit the “Weird and Wonderful Discovery Centre” inside the museum, where you can touch items from the natural sciences collection or try the digital interactive activities. Every weekend, young children are invited to the interactive story time.
If you’re searching for the perfect day trip adventure, take a ferry from downtown Auckland to Waiheke Island where you can indulge in the magical beaches, family-friendly cafes, walking trails, and the vineyards. Summer visits offer the Sculpture on the Gulf trail; an interactive art display your kids will love exploring.
Rangitoto Island, an extinct volcanic cone, sits in the middle of the harbor and features walking trails of various lengths and difficulty level. Pack a lunch or drinks and snacks for a day of hiking adventures, as this island does not offer such amenities.
If you’re staying downtown, you can take the free shark shaped shuttle bus to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium—one of the best things to do with kids in Auckland. Walk through underwater Perspex tunnels and see sharks, stingrays, and other fish sea life swimming all around you. To see New Zealand’s only colony of Antarctic penguins up close and personal, check out the Antarctic Ice Adventure.
At 328 meters high, Auckland’s Sky Tower steals focus from the rest of the skyline. If you travel to the top, you’ll be 220 meters from the ground, and your children will have a great time looking down through the glass floors to the busy streets below. If you look out over the city, you can see up to 80 kilometers in every direction. You may also be able to catch people base-jumping from the tower. Just keep in mind, you should probably go on a clear day. Inclement weather may not make it quite as fun.
For families who love animals, Butterfly Creek is a perfect attraction. Experience the tropical butterfly house, full of hundreds of amazingly colored butterflies. Butterfly Creek is also home to New Zealand’s only saltwater crocodiles, plus other reptiles, fish, insects, and birds.
Buttermilk Farm is full of rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep, goats, alpacas and pigs that children can hold, pet, and interact with for tons of animal fun.
Butterfly Creek also has a fantastic playground where they can ride the Red Admiral Express, a toy train circling the park. If your kids love dinosaurs, you should visit the Dinosaur Kingdom, offering over 60 interactive dinosaurs and life-size animatronic dinosaurs. Butterfly Creek even has a nice little onsite café but also invites you to pack your lunch for a family picnic.
If you need to keep the little ones busy between events or just looking for a quick activity, Auckland has several fun children’s playgrounds scattered around the city to delight all ages. Some of the crowd favorites include Western Park, which has in-ground trampolines, a flying fox and even mega slides. As part of a larger park, Cornwall Park is excellent for younger children who can enjoy slides, swings, climbing frames, a flying fox, and even a train. You can also see sheep and cows roaming in some areas of the park.
Located just a few minutes from downtown, Auckland Zoo is one of the best things to do with kids in Auckland. It is a must-do activity for all families. Auckland Zoo emphasizes conservation and does a great job of educating kids about wildlife and the environment in a fun way. Alongside the usual animals, you’d expect to see at the zoo; they feature a section dedicated to indigenous New Zealand and Australian wildlife, flora, and fauna. Take advantage of several animal encounters scattered throughout the zoo to get some personal time with your favorite animals. The zoo also offers a nice café, plenty of picnic areas, and snack and ice cream stands all around.
Believe it or not, there are 48 different extinct volcanic cones in the city of Auckland, and you can climb them! Known for some of the best views you can take in, an adventurous family ready for the climb can see all around the city from the tops of some of them. Mt. Eden is an excellent example of a steep crater while One Tree Hill is argued as having the best view in the entire city. Or enjoy North Head, which has gorgeous views of the harbor and leftover tunnels and military installations from World War Two which would be fantastic to explore.
For a great mix of education and fun, families can head to Potter Children’s Garden. Learn about ecology and plants, learn to tell time using a sundial, catch frogs in a stinky bog, or hunt in the grub pit. There’s plenty of space in the botanical gardens for family picnics and children are free to run around playing tag or even tumbling. There is also a nice onsite café available.
The Waitakere Ranges is 16,000 hectares of native forest and coastline, making a stunning backdrop for Auckland. Take a trip to Arataki Visitor Center to learn about all the park has to offer, including its many walking trails where you can take in the beautiful bush views, running rivers, and even spot birds and other native wildlife. The Auckland City walk is perfect for families with strollers, offering a 1.5 km loop for a peek at the giant kauri trees and native bush scenery.
Whether you’re looking for a wildlife experience, a hiking adventure, or an educational activity, Auckland has it all for families with children of all ages. Now you’ll have great options when planning your next vacation to New Zealand! Make lasting memories with your family with a weekend jam-packed full of exciting activities and amazing adventures sure to delight every member of your family!