Looking for something a bit different to do in Auckland this summer? We’ve rounded up eight awesome day outings picked with families in mind.
1. Kitekite Falls
Discover one of the gems of the Waitākere Ranges. The main access to see Kitekite Falls is from the Kitekite Falls Path following a walking track to the bottom of the falls. Recently upgraded with well-formed gravel paths and boardwalks designed to protect the fragile kauri forest, this walk winds through the native bush and takes you to the base of this majestic waterfall. Near the waterfall there are a couple of stream crossings that will test your agility, but kids will enjoy splashing through.
Popular with kids and history buffs alike, a trip to Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology – aka MOTAT – is a great day out. Alongside the intriguing historic displays and interactive science exhibits, there is always something special on during the school holidays. Plus, during the festive period you can visit after dark to experience the magical Christmas Lights, with Santa’s grotto, Christmas movie screenings, carols and, of course, beautiful displays of fairy lights.
3. Devonport and North Head
Catch the ferry from downtown Auckland to Devonport and walk along the waterfront to North Head Maungauika. As an alternative to the 20-minute walk, you can take bikes or scooters on the ferry. Head up the mountain and explore the old, echoing and dark military tunnels that are free to wander through – it pays to take a torch and a map of the tunnels if you haven't visited before. For more military history, stop off at Torpedo Bay Navy Museum (which is also free) on your way back to the ferry.
4. Pah Homestead
This beautiful historic homestead in Hillsborough is home to the Wallace Arts Centre, with its eclectic and sometimes challenging collection of contemporary artworks. With more than 9,300 works in the collection ranging from portraiture to pottery, exhibitions at Pah Homestead are constantly evolving. With beautiful grounds and an onsite café, its easy to make a day of it. Pah Homestead is open to the public Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 3pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 5pm. Entry is by koha.
5. Butterfly Creek
At Butterfly Creek, next to Auckland Airport, you can absorb the tropical atmosphere of the butterfly house, see dinosaurs and watch New Zealand’s only saltwater crocodiles in action. There are also farm animals, alligators, bugs, monkeys, and a beautiful bird aviary that will enthral little animal lovers. With a train ride, a great playground and an onsite café, there is plenty to keep families engaged for a day out.
Head to Stardome Observatory Planetarium for all things related to space. The observatory always has great kids' shows and activities set up to engage budding astronomers. The observatory is set in One Tree Hill Domain next to Cornwall Park so it's easy to spend a whole day in the area. Play in the excellent kids' playground near the observatory, walk to the summit of One Tree Hill or have a picnic in any one of a number of lovely settings in either park.
7. Ambury Farm
For more animal action, visit Ambury Farm – a working farm run by Auckland City Council, set within Ambury Regional Park. It's a great experience for city kids to see a farm in action, with cows, chickens, horses, pigs and regular feeding and milking shows in the sheds. The best thing about it is that it's all completely free to enjoy.
8. Takapuna to Narrowneck Walk
This is a very special walk, but you’ll need to plan carefully so as not to get trapped by the tide. It would take you half an hour if you were walking briskly, but there are far too many rock pools to explore and interesting rock formations to look at on the way, not to mention the stunning views across the harbour. Make sure you time it so the tide is going out at the beginning of your walk, or you'll find yourself stranded at the bottom of the cliffs. When you get to Narrowneck, grab an ice cream from the Narrowneck Beach Café before heading back to Takapuna the way you came.