Celebrating 100 Years of Auckland Zoo | Family Review

Promotion for Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo opened its door to the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland community on Saturday 16 December 1922. Since then, they have evolved to become an active conservation organisation and have welcomed over 28 million visitors to connect with nature, community, and wildlife.

At no time in its 100-year history has the role, relevance, and purpose of Auckland Zoo for people and for wildlife been more important than it is right now. With the help of its visitors, Auckland Zoo has donated over $5 million to conservation organisations through its Conservation Fund, plus their expert staff spend thousands of hours doing conservation fieldwork across the motu and overseas.

By visiting Auckland Zoo, you make a real and tangible contribution to the zoo’s conservation work here and in the wild. Join in the celebrations and give a gift to wildlife.

Open to all visitors, the 100 Year Exhibition is a dynamic experience in Auckland Zoo’s exhibition space, The Domes. It offers an incredible journey into the Zoo’s past, present and future – featuring photos, videos, and fun interactive activities for all ages.

We sent along Jacque and her family for a day out at Auckland Zoo to meet the inhabitants and check out the 100 Year Exhibition. Read her review below.

Auckland Zoo 100 years

Experiencing 100 years of Auckland Zoo

Our little family (husband, sons aged 8 and 2 and myself) were lucky to be able to experience the 100 year celebration at the Auckland Zoo

We decided to make a full day out of it and arrived when the doors opened and left when the doors closed, soaking it all in! We arrived at 9.15am and found good parking (a lot of other people had the same idea). There is good parking and street parking, plus the bus stops at the tram which you could catch making it just a touch more special. We paid $8 for parking (the maximum amount you’ll get set back for this newly added feature) and proceeded into the zoo with kids bouncing with excitement.

We were immediately greeted by friendly staff guiding visitors to the correct queues. Our queuing time was less than 2 minutes, and we had a choice of 2
lines to enter. We scanned our tickets, kids were offered a map (my kids love maps so this was received with great joy), and our adventure awaited us!

Just beyond the entrance, to the left was the dome – home to the 100 years of Auckland Zoo exhibition. A friendly smile and an activity sheet awaited us upon entrance. The activity was to explore the exhibition and return with four stamps. The prize? A die-roll for a chance at some ice-cream! This certainly captured the kids’ attention. The stamps were close enough that it wasn’t too long between them, but also afforded us the opportunity to digest the information and learn some interesting facts about Auckland Zoo and its inhabitants.

Our favourite exhibits included the photos of visits over the last 100 years, drawings of children’s favourite animals and the section where people share their hopes and wishes for themselves and the Zoo in general. For the kids, some activities that they enjoyed were: drawing their favourite animal, seeing animal x-rays, a recycling quiz, a tunnel to crawl through (this was of particular interest). There were also activities for the slightly more mature – sharing goals on a goal wall or weaving a piece of yarn through an intricate web, based on who you are, where you come from and what you enjoy. My favourite part was the maps of the zoo over the years and how they had changed.

After completing the stamps we headed back to the front of the exhibition. Time for the boys to try their luck! They weren’t able to get the correct roll of the die, but the lady kindly gave them both a stamp to redeem a free ice cream. This was definitely one of the highlights of the day for them. We also noticed merchandise at the front, which enabled visitors to take a piece of this historic moment home with them.

Once out of the dome we headed to the vet rooms. The boys loved exploring the drawers and seeing how the vets help and heal the animals. They weren’t able to catch a procedure in action, but there’s always next time!

Our next stop was the café to cash in the ice creams and get Mum and Dad a yummy coffee! The cones were quite appropriately animal themed. Across from the café was the playground with the egg slide (temporarily out of order) and dragon. The boys wasted no time in exploring and having a go at the diggers. The diggers required tokens, but these were easy enough to purchase (no cash necessary).

Auckland Zoo family fun

Exploring the Zoo

Our route took us past the reclusive red panda and we got to see it in full view. The boys loved spotting ‘King Julian’ and he did not disappoint with his poses!

The tigers were a massive hit especially when the one walked through the tunnel, right in front of us! The otters were a delight.

Another new feature is the rainforest. Included is a returnable guide. An amazing, amazon ambience is set with the occasional rain shower and even down to the smell of rich soil.

The ape house was definitely worth swinging by. We got to finally see who had been calling out all morning. Apart from seeing the simiangs up close, we also got to play a few memory games and have a look at the crazy mirrors. At this point we were also given some really interesting info (and a nice joke) by a zoo volunteer.

Our next stop was the seal enclosure, just in time to see it being fed. The diet of the seal (some fish and a frozen squid) brought out some interesting conversation amongst our family.

Time to refuel

It was close to midday, so a break and meal were in order. A good eating place or two was never far away, and we decided to sit at a rock meeting place. We were surrounded by beautiful native plants and little birds hoping to share a bite. The autumn leaves falling from the trees made more some majestic scenery.

After lunch we headed to the lizards which was exciting to try see which of us could spot the lizard and spiders first!

We got to see the kiwi up close to the window which was incredible!!! It was the first time that has ever happened. A slight drawback was that some people don’t respect the sanctity of the place and were quite loud.

The path out of the kiwis led to the eels, which is always fascinating. I particularly liked the half boat on either side of the enclosure.

We spent a decent amount of time in the aviaries. It was almost like being in another world, with the lush greenery and scenic waterfall. It was exciting to see some native birds like the kea and pīwakawaka.

Once we finished with the aviaries Mr 8 was quite chuffed he was able to spot the serval under the tree! The cheetah was definitely showing off to us, posing for pictures! Mr 8 loved the information about the cheetahs.

Auckland Zoo review

Favourite inhabitants

The flamingos held our attention for a while, the fascination with how they balance on one leg really amazed the kids. We only were allowed to leave the flamingos because the elephant was really close, I think they were doing checks on it. But still in awe of how magical it is. They loved how it ate its food with its trunk. Another attraction was the elephant statue – always a popular photo opportunity for whānau.

The central eating area – with the rock water feature was good fun for our kids, as well as plenty of others. Even with the slightly colder weather, the young ones could not pass up an opportunity to get wet.

When we passed the lions we were lucky to have them on the top of their den and then wander off to the viewing glass where they climbed up the trees. It’s really amazing to see that each animal has enough space to suit their needs and to simulate their natural environment.

The meerkat tunnels are always a popular spot and this day was no different. Some younger (and older) kids enjoyed making their way through the tunnels to the spot where one can view the meerkats from within their territory!

A rare occurrence for us was to see the porcupine – its quills glistened in the late afternoon sun. We never realized how big these majestic beasts actually are.

Our favourite spot was the zebra and giraffe enclosure, the viewing decks are perfectly made to view over the whole area and see the giraffes up close.
One can truly appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature from up there.

There were a few volunteers and staff who had little stations set up around the zoo. We did a matching animal picture to animal facts game. Although Mr 2 was a bit too young to understand, Mr 8 really enjoyed it (and learnt one or two new facts too!).

Kids loved the play area by the South American walkway, they loved climbing and balancing.

We ended our day in the gift shop where, if we could, we would buy everything in there, such amazing mementos! We let the boys pick one item each. Mr 2 got a flamingo and Mr 8 got a tui … each one winning a special place in their hearts!

The kids definitely had an amazing day. Mr 2 even forewent his daytime nap to take in as much as possible and not miss out. This was a good educational way to get out, get some sun and tire the kids out.

Auckland Zoo review

Family-friendly positives

There was always someone, either a staff member or volunteer at each section, always happy to give information about the animals. I love that there were plenty of bins around, there was no excuse for litter! It was also great that they have many benches and picnic tables around to rest and sit. With having kids it is also great to have toilets quite regularly around the zoo and good baby change rooms so we did not struggle with nappy changes.

The kids asked to go again this weekend, so definitely a good day was had!!! I would recommend spending the whole day there – there is definitely something for every age!

Plan your visit to Auckland Zoo

Reviewers were provided with a family pass to Auckland Zoo for the purposes of the review. Views are those of the reviewers.

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