Ultimate guide to things to do in Auckland with kids

Auckland is all about embracing the great outdoors, with stunning black and white sand beaches, sprawling parklands, bushwalking, rafting, mountain bike trails and an abundance of adventure activities for every age and ability. 

One Tree Hill, a 182-metre volcanic peak and The Domain are two favourite spots for families, while more adventurous kids can take on harbour jet boating, Auckland’s Sky Walk, Sky Jump or The Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungy, which will see them dangling over the harbour. Or take a 35-minute ferry ride out of town to zip line on gorgeous Waiheke Island.

Credit: Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Ltd.

You’ll find a huge variety of attractions from incredible animal parks and zoos to theme parks, mini golf and entertainment complexes boasting fun zones designed specifically with kids in mind.  You’ll also find dozens of great kid friendly cafes and dozens of fantastic state-of-the-art playgrounds and parks with activities for kids of every age.  

But if you want to head inside, Auckland boasts an incredible collection of museums and galleries that offer excellent learning opportunities, and specially curated children’s exhibitions with easily accessible parents’ rooms. The Auckland War Memorial Museum, The Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Museum and MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) are a few favourites, with special programmes and interactive exhibits to keep the kids entertained. Shoot for the stars at the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium, where you will find planetarium shows, telescope viewing and awesome astronomical exhibits. They can even ski, snowboard or snow tube at an indoor ski slope, whatever the weather.

Top things to do in Auckland

Auckland has a fantastic range of family activities for every age and every budget. Here are ten of our favourites.

  1. Fly above the treetops on EcoZip’s 200-metre long dual ziplines.
  2. Explore the Children’s Potter Garden at The Domain.
  3. Swim, surf and play on one of Auckland’s black or white sand beaches.
  4. Take to Waitemata Harbour on a white-knuckle jet boat ride.
  5. Discover New Zealand’s history of transport and technology MOTAT.
  6. Sleep over on a Safari Night at Auckland Zoo.
  7. Enjoy 360 degree views from One Tree Hill.
  8. Dive into the trenches at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
  9. Leap from the bridge with the Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungy.
  10. Walk around the top of Sky Tower, 192 metres above the city.

Things to do in Auckland with...

Rangitoto is perfect for bush walking so grab your hat and your camera and head out to explore the world's largest pohutukawa forest.

Best time to visit Auckland as a family

Though there are four distinct seasons, Auckland’s climate can best be described as unpredictable. Summer in Auckland, from December to February, is an outdoor lover’s paradise with consistently bright and sunny weather that is perfect for visiting its glorious beaches, as well as hiking or biking on the cities many purpose-built trails. But you’ll need to book ahead to procure family-friendly accommodation and campsites, lakes and beaches will be crowded. 

Between May and September, things get a lot chillier.  During peak season, from November to March and school holidays, be prepared for inflated prices and you’ll need to be prepared to contend with a lot of other tourists. However, if you are seeking a bargain, along with pleasant weather, the shoulder months of May and September offer both warm days and a lack of crowds without the higher peak season costs.

Dolphins are very playful animals. Some of them have even been seen to use seaweed as a toy.

Family-friendly places to eat in Auckland

The food of New Zealand is influenced not only by British, Maori, Mediterranean and Pacific Rim cuisines, but is also driven by its abundance of local seasonal ingredients, fresh from the land and New Zealand’s 15,000 kilometres of coastline.

The modern food scene caters to every taste and budget with a variety of cuisines from Asian and Mediterranean and you will find no shortage of restaurants and cafes that welcome kids with open arms. Many offer special menus and even entertainment and play areas for the kids. Local favourites include a big bag of good old-fashioned fish and chips, luscious lamb and irresistible honeycomb studded Hokey Pokey ice cream. And for a cultural cuisine experience head to Waiheke Island to enjoy the smoky flavour of a traditional Maori hangi, a feast cooked in an underground oven, an essential culinary experience for families.

Water lovers can take a guided sea kayaking trip out to Rangitoto and the adventurous can even try a night kayak, and watch the sunset!

Things to do for free in Auckland

  • Pack the sunscreen, swimming costumes and towels for a day of swimming, sailing and sandcastle making on one Auckland’s many black and white sand beaches. 
  • Head to Cornwall Park, an oasis in the centre of the city, and hike up to the obelisk on One Tree Hill, a 182-metre volcanic peak, for incredible views. If you prefer your parklands without hills, The Domain is the oldest park in Auckland and with its ancient trees and pretty waterfalls it is the perfect spot for a family picnic or walk. The kids will especially love exploring the Children’s Potter Garden. 
  • If it is culture you seek, The Auckland Art Gallery offers free entry to view its permanent collection of 15,000 works. And if you’re after a bit of adventure, take your torch to North Head to explore the tunnels and learn about New Zealand’s military history.
What’s on?

The best annual events for families in Auckland

January - Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival

A celebration of Māori history, heritage and contemporary culture.

January - Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta

Enjoy the spectacle of one of the largest one-day regattas in the world.

February - Splore Music and Arts Festival

This three-day music and arts festival features live music, markets, workshops and loads of kid-friendly activities.

March - Auckland Lantern Festival

Hundreds of handmade Chinese lanterns illuminate The Domain at this annual celebration of Lunar New Year.

March - Auckland Arts Festival

Join in the fun of this world renowned 19-day festival of theatre, music, cabaret, dance and visual arts.

March - Pasifika Festival

An annual celebration of Auckland’s Pacific cultures.

April - Royal Easter Show

Enjoy a massive line-up of entertainment, circus acts, carnival rides, sideshows, exhibits, and agricultural displays at this iconic annual event.

December - Christmas in the park

A free annual music festival with fireworks, Christmas tree lighting and a jolly red-suited special guest.

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