Destination Guide: Auckland

Created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand

Auckland boasts lush native bush, rainforests, beaches, a vibrant waterfront area plus a busy city centre – and combined this makes for lots of fantastic places to go and things to do when you holiday there.

Whether you’re planning to head away over the school holidays,  just want to escape on a mini-break, or are planning a staycation, we’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create some lasting memories with your family.

Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.

Free family activities

Even if you’re travelling on a budget, there are still so many experiences you can enjoy with your family. Auckland boasts an exciting selection of rugged West Coast beaches, safer East Coast beaches plus a selection of walks and other free, fun activities.

Waterfront Public Art Self Guided Tour – explore the waterfront and combine art with a treasure hunt. There are nine sculptures to be found in Auckland’s most historic quarters while enjoying stunning views along the Waitematā Harbour foreshore.

Manukau Heads Lighthouse – one of only a few in New Zealand that are open to the public, marvel at the spectacular views and every changing seascapes. Gates are open 9am to 5pm daily – the spacious grounds, fascinating lighthouse and stunning views make for a great picnic spot.

Comans – Ahu Ahu Track Circuit, Karekare – head out to the West Coast and take in the views along the Comans – Ahu Ahu Track starting at the end of Watchmans Road. Take your togs and have a swim between the flags at Karekare while you’re there.

Maungawhau / Mt Eden Path – made up from two overlapping scoria cones which erupted about 28,000 years ago, Maungawhau was subsequently the location of one of the largest Māori pā (fortified settlement) in the region. Take a hike up many of the walkways and explore this historic site and enjoy the view of Auckland and other volcanic cones.

Snorkelling at Goat Island – New Zealand’s first marine reserve, Goat Island is now a rich ecological area, teeming with fish and other sea life. The best way to experience the reserve and its inhabitants is to get into the water. With a mask and snorkel you can explore the sand and rocks close to shore while scuba divers can visit deeper areas further out.

Cannon fire at the New Zealand Maritime Museum – if you’re down at the Auckland Viaduct before midday head towards the Maritime Museum concourse where you can hear the Museum’s replica cannon fired each day at 12pm in the marina. Watch from the concourse for an impressive sound and release of confetti. If you’re an Aucklander entry to the Museum is free.

Ambury Farm (Regional Park) – located in Mangere Bridge, Ambury Farm is easily accessible from central Auckland. Bring a picnic and enjoy a gentle walk around the farm meeting various farm animals. Plus you can explore the insect garden, do some bird spotting and visit beehives.

Become a Kiwi Guardian! Print off the Ambury Park adventure map before you head out, then find the Kiwi Guardian post and submit the special code word on it to receive a Kiwi Guardians certificate and medal.

Ōmana Regional Park – stunning views, a safe swimming beach, rolling farm land, some farm animals, and tenacious pōhutukawa make this a lovely day out. You can also see the remains of  O-Manawatere pā.

Become a Kiwi Guardian! Print off the Ōmana Regional Park adventure map before you head out, then find the Kiwi Guardian post and submit the special code word on it to receive a Kiwi Guardians certificate and medal.

Fun family experiences

As Auckland’s ‘City of Sails’ there are plenty of on-the-water adventures to be had, plus interactive history experiences, opportunities to explore nature, and more.

Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo

With 126 species and over a thousand animals across 17 hectares of parkland, Auckland Zoo is New Zealand’s largest home of wildlife and is conveniently located just five minutes from central Auckland. There’s lots to see and do all year round, including animal encounters and behind-the-scenes experiences.

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Auckland Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum 

Auckland Museum is New Zealand’s first Museum and tells the story of New Zealand, its place in the Pacific and its people. There are lots of hands on daily and holiday activities especially for children.

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MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology)

MOTAT offers a range of activities to engage young minds. Highlights include exploring Auckland of the 1800s at the Historic Village, Tram Barns, interactive exhibitions, and the vintage Tram ride to the Aviation Display Hall. Plus, there are outdoor play areas and picnic spots for sunny days.

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Ted Ashby

Auckland Harbour Cruise on the Ted Ashby

Get out on to the water with an hour long cruise in Auckland Harbour on the heritage scow Ted Ashby. Enjoy a close up look at the Harbour Bridge along with a panoramic view of the Auckland skyline.

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Sea life kelly tarlton's

Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s 

Dive into an intriguing underwater world by visiting SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium . Get closer than ever to fascinating sea creatures and marine life such as sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, octopuses and an array of colourful tropical fish.

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Auckland Sea Kayaks

Auckland Sea Kayaks

Explore the Waitemata Harbour by kayak with guides who are passionate sea kayakers and love to share their extensive knowledge of the area. There are a range of tour options and if a kayak isn’t your thing, take a guided tour to Rangitoto Island instead.

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EcoZip Tours

Suitable for nature lovers of all ages, EcoZip Adventures is an award-winning adventure and eco-tourism destination, offering state-of-the-art flying-fox ziplines with a beautiful eco-immersive forest experience on Waiheke Island. EcoZip will pick you up from the Ferry.

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Family friendly eateries

One of the best parts of travelling is getting to eat lots of new and delicious food. Whether you’re looking for a lunch spot or somewhere to have a nice family dinner, here are some of Auckland’s best eateries that have great options for little foodies.

Auckland Fish Market – located in Wynyard Quarter on Auckland’s waterfront, the Auckland Fish Market has 8 different eateries so you will find something for everyone – especially, but not only – seafood lovers. Each eatery has a special Kids Market Deal menu.

Wild on Waiheke – healthy kids meals, a playground, and a giant trampoline makes the restaurant at Wild on Waiheke a fun family destination. Adults are not forgotten with artisan food and beverages on offer, perfect for sharing in a stylish, yet relaxed setting.

Hallertau Clevedon – fun, family (and pet) friendly vibe.  Fresh seasonal food, indoor dining plus a relaxing outdoor beer garden with space for the kids.

Hawthorn Dene Historic Country Café – tucked away inside the historic homestead is a charming cafe. Enjoy a daytime meal or snack inside, or out in the charming garden area.

Dos Amigos – tex-mex cuisine in the heart of Mission Bay. Choose from a comprehensive menu that includes nachos, quesadilla, taco, fajita, and of course the child favourite – churros!

Cornwall Park Café – nestled in beautiful Cornwall Park, the cafe offers fresh coffee, seasonal and children’s menu, smoothies, and cabinet food. Dine in or take into the park for a picnic.

Giapo – ice cream reimagined – Giapo presents ice cream as more than just a cool dessert. From the time you step in to the store, expect to be treated to a whole new way to experience ice cream. Expect to be intrigued – and delighted!

Swashbucklers – a fun themed dining experience in Westhaven Marina. For pirates 12 years and under there is a special menu. With lots of parking, great views and a relaxed vibe, your family will be able to relax and enjoy lunch, dinner or a bar snack.

Torpedo Bay Café – overlooking the harbor and boasting a safe children’s playground plus a parents room. The  delicious food is prepared fresh onsite for you to dine in or takeaway for a picnic.

Where to stay

There is so much to see and do in Auckland so why don’t you stay a while. For family friendly stays, we recommend checking out the below.

Whangateau Holiday Park

Whangateau Holiday Park – located right on the water’s edge near Leigh on the Matakana Coast, Whangateau is a great place to conduct day trips to Auckland from. Park up the campervan or book a cabin, family room, or onsite caravan and enjoy the safe beach and beautiful park like grounds.

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Quest Apartments

Quest Auckland – serviced apartments that offer a spacious inner city option for families. Options range from a studio through to two bedrooms and include a full kitchen plus laundry facilities. Quest also offers a grocery delivery service and can help with booking babysitters.

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Cordis Auckland – 5-star family suites are an elegant home away from home in central Auckland. Choose from a range of suite sizes and features while enjoying 24 hour in-room dining options and a heated roof top pool. Little travellers enjoy a warm welcome with a complimentary Cordis Kids backpack full of goodies.

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