Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo Has It All

Home to New Zealand’s largest collection of native and exotic animals, Auckland Zoo is considered one of the most progressive zoos in the world.

Just minutes from central Auckland in Western Springs, you’ll find 17 hectares of wildlife and parkland, filled with hundreds of different species of animals and creatures. You’d be wild to think you can miss one of Auckland’s top ten tourist attractions!

Auckland Zoo is open every day of the year, except for Christmas, from 9:30am to 5:30pm in summer, and 9:30am to 5:00pm in winter.


Highlights of Auckland Zoo

If you have enough fingers and toes to count the 875 different animals that Auckland Zoo has to offer, you’ll agree that you have to see it to believe it.

Be transported to Africa and enjoy a mini safari when you step into the Pridelands. The kids will learn about the circle of life when they see animals such as the majestic lions lounging around, while the giraffes and southern white rhinoceros (the third largest land animal in the world) tower over them. Continue into the savannah with zebras, flamingos, cheetahs and more – there’s so much to discover.

When the desert habitats start to feel a bit barren, head over to the rainforest and tropical habitats and monkey around with the gibbons and baboons. If you’re feeling a bit daring, peer into the dense vegetation and see if you can spot the Bolivian blue-legged tarantula or Andean stripe-knee tarantulas.


Must See and Do

Taking up a fifth of Auckland Zoo’s 17 spectacular hectares is Te Wao Nui. In this precinct you’ll find six incredible habitats that will offer both locals and tourists an experience like no other.

Come high or low, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in New Zealand’s animals, plants and culture. From New Zealand fur seals in The Coast to the famous residents of the High Country, the kea and the whio (blue duck), this attraction is a must.

If you’re searching for a truly unforgettable experience, give the kids (or yourself!) the chance to get up and personal with your favourite animals. Auckland Zoo offers behind-the-scene experiences, where you can come close to the eye of the tiger, wash down an elephant, feed some cheeky monkeys or meet one of the rhinos! Kids also have the chance to be a zookeeper for a day with the junior keeper experience.

Not amazing enough for you? Not a problem – the animals aren’t the only things to see and do! If you’re a night owl, why not explore Auckland Zoo after dark on a night safari? Or put your camera to good use and snap up a challenge by taking a photography workshop, where a pro will offer you another perspective to see all those species.


Visiting Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo is a winner when it comes to naturalistic habitats and environments.

The kids will love the KidZone with all the domestic animals. From chickens, frogs, guinea pigs to bearded dragons, they’ll be fascinated by this area. Plus the outdoor area is a great place for them to run and climb around!

On Wednesdays at 11am, Friday at 2pm and Sunday’s at 11am, the zoo offers informative guided walks. The 1-hour tour is great for taking in all the highlights of the Zoo. At the same time you’ll also learn a thing or two about the Zoo’s long history.

Be sure to book ahead for Experience products so you don’t miss out!

Auckland Zoo prices range from $12 for kids to $28 for adults. Kids under 4 enter for free. Get a good deal when you take the whole family with a family pass.

The Zoo’s impressive layout makes it an attraction that is a must see on your list of things to do in Auckland. Keep in mind that it can get quite busy during school holidays around Christmas time, and on public holidays.

After a long and fun day at the zoo, kick back and relax at one of Best Western’s Auckland accommodations.

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If you’re looking for things to do in Auckland, Auckland Museum is quite possibly one the best ways to get a true sense of New Zealand’s culture. As one of the best museums in the Southern Hemisphere, it is renowned for passionately exhibiting the culture, artistic legacy and military bravery of the Pacific People.

Housed in one of New Zealand’s finest neo-classicist style heritage buildings, the museum is located in the grounds of the Domain, a beautiful garden in the city centre and sits on a grassed plinth. The museum provides an ever-changing banquet of local and international exhibitions that excite and delight the visitor.


Cultural Exhibitions

A central part of the Auckland Museum and a favourite among visitors is the Maori exhibition which delves into the culture and legacy of the people. It is home to the largest and most valuable collection of Maori taonga treasures in the world. These have been collected diligently over time. It is also the only place in Auckland where visitors can experience a Maori cultural performance daily. The performance gives an engaging, vibrant and entertaining glimpse at Tamaki Paenga Hira with the world-famous haka. As part of the experience, you also get the opportunity to interact with and take photos with the performers. This cultural display is considered one of the best in New Zealand.


Auckland War Memorial Museum

The museum is often referred to as the Auckland War Memorial Museum as it is one of New Zealand’s most important war memorials. The Scars of the Heart exhibition covers the New Zealand civil wars and Anglo-Boer War of the 19th century, the first and second world wars and the Asian conflicts. There are two main galleries, the World War I Sanctuary and the World War II Hall of Memories. The Hall of Memories is home to the permanent roll of honour which is carved into marble and holds the names of men and women from the Auckland Province who lost their lives in war. The building was extended to allow for war memorials for over 4,000 Aucklanders who lost their lives in World War II.

What is particularly special about the exhibition is that it was created using the personal experiences of those who served in the armed forces and also New Zealanders who stayed at home. Many of the items on display are of a personal nature including photographs and letters to and from home. It even has interactive computers, allowing visitors to browse through photo albums and diaries, and handsets giving oral histories of soldier’s experiences. The personal pieces make a very strong impact to the collection as you get a first-hand sense of the experiences and emotions of the soldiers.


Auckland Museum Cenotaph

The Auckland Museum Cenotaph (empty tomb) is located in the building’s consecrated foreground, along with the Court of Honour. The Cenotaph is inscribed to “The Glorious Dead” and is purposely without decoration or religious symbolism as it was designed by Luytens to capture the grief of an Empire unable to bring those who died at war home. Constructed in 1929, the Auckland War Memorial Museum still remains a place of remembrance for families and comrades.


Auckland Museum Opening Hours

Galleries and Exhibitions are open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm.


Auckland Museum Prices

General Admission is $25 for an adult, $10 for a child and $60 for a family of two adults and four children. Extra charges apply for tours and performances.

Being without a doubt one of the best Auckland attractions, make sure you include a visit to the Auckland Museum in your itinerary.

After all the excitement of discovering the treasures of the museum, why not sit back and relax at one of Best Western’s Auckland accommodations.


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A Rangitoto Island tour is an absolute must when exploring Auckland’s attractions. Rangitoto volcano is the youngest and largest of Auckland’s volcanic field and has something very special to offer.


Rangitoto Volcano

Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. It was formed about 600 years ago. It has a distinctive, symmetrical cone shape and can be seen from most of Auckland. It’s the youngest and largest of the 48 volcanoes of Auckland’s volcanic field. Cooling lava has formed a moat-like ring around the crater summit which can be viewed from the paths leading to the summit. The island is considered particularly different from the others in the field because of the sparse forests covering much of the island which formed from raw lava.


Rangitoto Ferry

Getting there is easy. The Rangitoto ferry runs daily from either downtown Auckland or Devonport Wharf. It takes approximately 25 minutes to be transported to the majestic lava-covered island.


Rangitoto Walk

The famous Rangitoto walk to the summit is steep but only takes an hour at an easy pace and is manageable to most. The scenery along the way is simply stunning as you take in your surroundings of luscious greenery, sandy coves and lava fields, not to mention the world’s largest pohutukawa forest. Pohutukawa is one of the first plants to take hold on fresh lava with a fascinating succession from bare lava directly to forest. These unusual, large coastal trees now cover about 80% of the island creating an exceptionally distinctive landscape. Take a slight diversion off the track for a 30 minute round trip to the lava caves. The caves are natural tunnels formed by lava and really add to the adventure. Be mindful that they are very dark – bring a torch to explore!

If you prefer a more challenging walk, there are plenty of other tracks to cover. The Lighthouse Walk to McKenzie Bay is a longer walk taking approximately two and half hours along the coast and will lead you to one of the two natural beaches on the island, McKenzie Bay. Another option would be the coastal track from Rangitoto Wharf to Islington Bay Wharf which takes around the same time and displays some historical structures such as Yankee Wharf which was built during World War II, old quarry sites and ruins of storage bases for mines from war times.

Walking not for you? No problem! You can take the guided tour option on the 4WD road train which will give you a commentary about the history and geology of the island as you take in the scenery.


Something Different

Another way to see Rangitoto Island is by kayak which takes approximately two hours. Several kayak operators offer kayak rentals and guided tours. The tours typically start at Waitemata Harbor and take you across to the island, taking in the panoramic views from the water. It’s not uncommon to see wildlife along the way such as Cooks Petrels and Little Blue Penguins.

If you’re the adventurous type, you may be interested in the night kayak trip which takes you out across the water in the evening to see a spectacular sunset from the summit of the volcano. Some tours include an evening dinner. You’ll then get to kayak back under the stars with the city lights as your backdrop. What a treat!


What you need to know

There are no shops or restaurants on Rangitoto Island so be sure to take enough food with you to last your trip. Bring plenty of water, especially if you’re planning on doing a walk. If you want to take an adventure through the caves it’s advised to bring a torch as the caves are dark and the ground is uneven underfoot. Be sure to time the ferry trips well as you don’t want to miss the last ferry and not get back to your Auckland accommodation. Proper walking shoes/hiking boots are recommended, especially if taking a longer track. Sun screen and hats are also advisable to make your trip as pleasant and safe as possible

After an adventurous and awe-inspiring day on Rangitoto Island, take your boots off and put your feet up at one of Best Western’s Auckland accommodations. When it comes to things to do in Auckland, Rangitoto Island must not be missed! If you’re interested in Island tours then you might also enjoy a visit to Waiheke Island.


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