Last time we came to Auckland I was armed with a huge list of restaurant and café recommendations. The list for this trip started with The Zoo and ended with Country Road kids. Oh yup, she was a different trip this time. Travelling with 2 young kids just doesn’t scream long lunches and leisurely browsing of menus, does it!
River (9 months) decided to learn to crawl on day 1 and Hunter (2 years) decided day naps weren’t really his thing anymore. It’s fair to say the Mini Macs were plotting to keep us on our toes! Totally parenting 101 though isn’t it? As soon as you have it semi-sorted the game changes and you have to learn a new dance to keep everyone happy.
Hunter is a busy boy, so we were out of our fantastic Ponsonby Air BnB for the greater part of the day. It was a great spot to stay as it was easy walking distance to anything you really need or want.
I thought I would share our top 3 things to do with children, in case you are travelling to Auckland soon, or you want to check out your own back yard.
This was our first stop after checking into our accommodation. Cabin fever was perilously close to setting in and we chose the perfect antidote. There was basketball, blue skies and loud hip hop music playing a spot-on soundtrack for our time on the all-ages playground. There was space to explore and room to run. We climbed high and saw a busy skyline, graffiti and the harbour bridge. We stayed low and climbed through giant shells and old boating paraphernalia.
This playground is exceptional and on the fringe of the CBD, so for a mum tip take the kids here to burn off steam before popping into one of the many waterfront bars/restaurants/cafes to refuel.
Auckland War Memorial Museum
If you are going to Auckland with children put this at the top of the list. I was blown away! Once you enter the children’s areas they can touch EVERYTHING. This was just ideal for my excited, tornado of a 2 year old. There are fossils in large child-friendly sets of draws, tables at varying heights stationed with colouring in that then get converted into a 3D image and projected on large screens. The image changes colour when you do more colouring in. I mean, I might have spent too much time in Arrowtown, but I was gobsmacked!! Amazing!!!
There are coloured canisters with artefacts, taxidermy (yup went there) animals, little doors at children’s height with questions on the outside and various awesomeness inside, for instance; a screen showing bees working in their bee hive. There was so much to see and do but the space still felt clean and uncluttered.
At places like this I usually expect to then spend money at a café buying things to feed the children that they are probably not going to be impressed with anyway. But not here. Here, at the magical place that is the Museum, there is a large room with tables, chairs & highchairs, which you are welcome to use. You can bring your own snacks (that will still probably not impress but somehow it doesn’t feel as heart-breaking as when you have agonised over the choices and paid millions of dollars for it) and there are wipes and sanitizer to clean up any messes too. Well blow me over with a feather. Can we come back tomorrow?
Ah yes, it does rain in Auckland, and while The Zoo was top of the list, Kelly Tarltons got bumped up due to the slight weather issue. To be honest, I hadn’t looked into it much (usually I am a serial planner for this kind of thing) but it came highly recommended and what did we have to lose really? That is why when we were wandering around and then came across real live penguins I was freakin’ AMAZED! There must have been a hundred of them! Swimming, eating, sleeping and generally just doing their thing! I was no longer using ‘only for children pretend excited voice’ I was genuinely pumped! I could have stayed in this section all day, but 2 year olds don’t want to stay in the part that the adults want to be in, they want to keep going.
Seriously though, as you expect, this place is designed for children and they do it so well. Hunter’s new favourite words include sea horse & shark so it must have had an impression on him. This place was big enough that you get your money’s worth (Entre price here) but not too large that you feel like you will be tearing them away if you need to get home for naps. We bought nice coffees in the cafe and you can purchase food here while you watch the fish getting fed or the kids burn off some steam at the climbing playground-type set up.
TIP: we got there bang on opening time and found a park easily and didn’t have to wait in much of a line. Come 11.30am, WHOLE different story. If it is raining, come early. We saw a children’s birthday party being hosted too. Is there anything they don’t do?
The rest of our trip was really focused on seeing our friends. Having lived in Auckland for 10+ years Hamish and I both have friends here and I miss them so much. Nothing like having your girlfriends over on a Saturday night to help bath your kids and then eat Thai takeout and drink wine! Oh and a smidgen of shopping thrown in there… it would be rude not to, right?!
We had a great time and it has made me want to see and do more! Do you have any suggestions that we should put on our list for the next trip to The Big Smoke?
A small disclaimer, when I started this blog I promised myself that I would only use DSLR images but on this trip I found it super convenient to pull the phone out and snap. So I apologise for the quality of some of these images, I couldn’t help but share them all with you xxx