Family Guide to Auckland
Most family adventures in New Zealand begin in Auckland. As New Zealand’s largest city, it’s full of family-friendly museums and parks that you would expect… But this is New Zealand, where whales and dolphins can be seen just a short boat ride away from the city, where volcanoes have burst from the ocean for visitors to explore, and where beaches line the suburbs. Get the best introduction to “Aotearoa” possible by following our trusty guide to Auckland for families!
10 Things to Do in Auckland with Kids
- Take the ferry to Rangitoto Island and learn more about Auckland’s newest volcano
- Wise up about the world of technology at the kid-friendly MOTAT museum
- See whales and dolphins in their natural environment on the Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari cruise
- Learn about the Kiwi farming lifestyle at Sheepworld in Warkworth
- Spend the day swimming and making sandcastles at one of Auckland’s picturesque beaches
- See the wild and wonderful birds of New Zealand on Tiritiri Matangi Island
- Watch a Maori cultural performance at the Auckland Museum
- Take a family road trip to one of Auckland’s regional parks
- Check out the views from the top of the Sky Tower
- Learn how to ski at the indoor ski slope, Snowplanet
For more information on each activity, check out our 10 Things to Do in Auckland with Kids, or simply continue reading…
Outdoor Activities in Auckland for Kids
Land or water, whatever your family’s element there’s an experience to suit! Auckland is more than just a vibrant city, but it harbours the Hauraki Gulf with gorgeous islands, regional parks with forest, farms and beaches, and more.
Family Land Activities
The city centre of Auckland is an intrigue for young and old. The prominent feature of the city skyline if the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building, the Sky Tower. Check out the views up there by getting a pass to the Sky Tower Observation Deck – more info on Viator and Tripadvisor. For those feeling more adventurous, experience the adrenaline of the SkyJump (on Viator and Tripadvisor) or the SkyWalk (on Viator and Tripadvisor) for kids aged 10 years and over.
Seeking a family road trip? You have a wealth of options in the Auckland region thanks to the 26 regional parks available! Enjoy an easy walk to the breathtaking Hunua Falls in the Hunua Ranges, camp or go to the beach at Shakespear Park, discover the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach, and the list goes on! Check out our top Auckland regional park destinations in 20 Auckland Parks You Can’t Miss.
Family Water Activities
It’s easy to experience a day away from the urban buzz, even if you don’t have a car. Head down to the Downtown Ferry Terminal at the end of Queen Street and select your island to sail to. Ferries depart daily to Rangitoto Island, a 600-year-old volcano with family-friendly walking tracks, impressive lava fields and lava caves. Alternatively, see how many birds you can spot at Tiritiri Matangi Island, a pest-free island and haven for native New Zealand birds. Get more inspiration for islands to visit in our The 10 Best Islands in Auckland to Visit.
More ways to get on the water in Auckland is via a whale watching tour. Whales and dolphins excite both young and old, so treat your tribe to a cruise on Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safaris. The half-day tour takes you out onto the Hauraki Gulf in search of playful bottlenose dolphins, majestic Bryde’s whales, and an array of seabirds. Find out more about Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari on Viator and Tripadvisor.
For a more relaxing day for the whole family, get out and discover some of Auckland’s beaches. On the west coast of the region, you have black sand beaches with rugged cliffs and picture-perfect coastlines. On the east is a selection of white sand beaches which tend to be calmer and safer for swimming. Auckland’s most popular beaches are lifeguard patrolled in summer, giving you extra reassurance for your family. Check out some amazing beaches to visit in Where to Find Black Sand Beaches in Auckland.
Indoor Activities in Auckland for Kids
Auckland has an amazing array of indoor attractions to make even the rainiest of days memorable. An activity that always springs to mind is checking out the city museums. The Auckland Museum (on Viator and Tripadvisor) in the centre of the Auckland Domain is packed with exhibitions covering New Zealand’s history, both social and natural. Learn stories of seafarers at the New Zealand Maritime Museum or learn about some of the world’s greatest inventions at the MOTAT Museum – standing for Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology. More on those in the section below!
Snowplanet in the Silverdale district of Auckland shows that you can still have outdoor experiences when the weather isn’t playing ball. Book the little ones in for some ski lessons or hone your skills before hitting some of New Zealand’s epic ski fields.
And as you may have told your kids before arriving in New Zealand, New Zealand has a lot of sheep! Enjoy the novelty of this Kiwi stereotype at Sheepworld in Warkworth. Get a taste of the New Zealand farming lifestyle and see how farms harvest wool through live demonstrations. Find out more about Sheepworld on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Cultural/Educational Activities in Auckland for Kids
As mentioned in the section above, Auckland has a wealth of family-friendly museums well worth checking out. MOTAT in Western Springs is one of the best options for kids thanks to its interactive displays where kids can learn about impressive planes, railways and other transport through active learning. After you’ve had a look inside, go visit the birds at the lake just outside of the museum.
A more central museum, the Auckland Museum sits in the Auckland Domain – an attraction in itself with play areas, walking tracks, gardens and tons of room for the kids to run around. In the museum, kids love the Maori exhibitions with traditional weapons and carvings on display. It’s also the only venue in central Auckland where you can watch a Maori cultural performance. Find out more about the Auckland Museum on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Finally, as you travel around New Zealand you’ll realise the emphasis New Zealand puts on protecting its native species. A good place to start this education for both the kids and adults is the island of Tiritiri Matangi. Bird feeding stations around the island make it easy to watch New Zealand’s array of colourful and quirky birds, even if you’re little ones are noisy. The island allows visitors to get a taste of what New Zealand was like before human migration to these remote South Pacific islands. Pick up ferry tickets from Viator or Tripadvisor. Additionally, find out more about the island in The 10 Best Islands in Auckland to Visit.