West Auckland is a vibrant hub with adventure and exploration options. Whether your fam loves discovering waterfalls or experiencing kids’ theatre at its best, try our ‘best in the West’ list.
Indoor Rock Climbing (Glen Eden)
Have some family bonding time at West Auckland’s premier rock-climbing facility Extreme Edge in Glen Eden (photograph above). There is a vibrant Climbzone for kids, and more difficult options for parents keen to test their limits. This place is a work of art!
Whoa! Studios (Henderson)
If you’re looking for a combination of memorable food (we’re talking seriously delicious) and an international-standard playground for the kids, you’ll love Whoa! Studios in Henderson Valley. The playground is lit up for evening meals and you’ll find kids of all ages playing on the giant crochet web, rocket ship, dragon’s castle, and pirates’ cove. There’s even more to come, so keep an eye out for fun new additions. And the best news – there’s no charge for kids in the evening (if you’re eating).
Reading Cinemas (New Lynn)
Cheap tickets, newly designed cinemas and world-class sound systems make Reading Cinemas the best place to watch that upcoming movie your kids can’t stop telling you about. For an easy and affordable family activity (especially on those rainy days), heading to the cinema is ever so satisfying.
Chilled out day at (Piha)
No matter the weather, Piha Beach showcases the heart and beauty of West Auckland. Walk up Lion Rock to enjoy the picturesque views of the shoreline and get that family photo while you’re there. As a treat head down to Blair’s on the Beach or the Piha Café for some delicious fish n’ chips.
Survival Day (Muriwai Valley Road, Muriwai)
Experience the outdoors for real on a SOS (Survival Training) family day. Trainee commandoes will learn to shoot down targets, fish for eels, build shelter and create an open fire. An army-themed tent is onsite for the post-survival feast. You can tailor the level of challenge to your preference, but you’re in the hands of an experts (we’re talking ex RNZAF Commander), so prepare for good old fashioned adventure. It’s like extreme camping with somone else sorting all of the organisation for you. Whoop whoop!
Crystal Mountain (Swanson)
Hidden in Swanson, this family attraction has everything from cute farm animals to a thrilling rollercoaster to expend your children’s energy. Here, you and your children can journey through the animal park on the express train, have a pony ride or come face-to-face with mammoth replica dinosaurs.
Fairy Falls (Waitakere)
If your Brady Bunch craves a bit of adventure, then Fairy Falls is ideal. On this track, you will encounter breathtaking views, including the various waterfalls along the way. Make sure you wear suitable footwear to keep your feet dry and bring snacks/water to keep energy levels up.
Kiwi Valley Farm Park (Henderson Valley)
Get up close and personal with piggies, goats and donkeys at Kiwi Valley. Admission ($13-15) includes a farm walk, unlimited horse and pony rides, one animal feed bag and access to the hidden maze. After all the adventure, chill out at the cafe and snack on some of the best wedges in the West.
Tree Adventures (Waimauku)
For the parents of little monkeys, this one’s for you. Tree Adventures is home to all things swinging and climbing amongst the forest. With courses designed to suit a range of different ages and confidence levels, it is the ideal challenging day out for the whole family.
Mercer Bay Loop Track (Piha)
Views, views and more views are the only way to describe this West Auckland hot spot. Grab your picnic necessities and head to Mercer Bay to enjoy the coastal views, sea cliffs and the West Auckland wildlife, while enjoying some homemade bites. Throughout the walk, there are plenty of places to stop and catch your breath while taking in the mesmerising outlook.
West Wave (Henderson)
Designed to keep kids of all ages and abilities entertained, West Wave is a must visit. With one of the longest hydro slides in New Zealand and a lazy river to catch your breath at the end, we recommend you give this aquatic centre a visit if your family’s eager for some action.
If your kids go batty over flying foxes, then you’ll love these three (free!) options in the West.
Tui Glen Reserve (2 Claude Brookes Drive, Henderson) doesn’t just have one flying fox, but a dual one, as well as giant pyramid teepees. This treetop-themed playground is for those little adventurers and daredevils (but it is ages 5+ for safety).
Owairaka Park (off Owairaka Ave, Mount Albert) also has a giant double swing, climbing wall, basketball courts, a volleyball court, a skate park, and a bike track with speed bumps.
Waikowhai Park (off Waikowhai Road, Hillsborough) not only has a flying fox, but you can also do a spot of bird-watching, trek along the harbour shore at low tide, and if the bush walks are too muddy, there are concrete paths lining the tracks.
We are loving this new bike track craze, and West Auckland has seven heart-pumping ways to get those wheels moving. So if you’ve got a daredevil bike rider, then pump tracks, loop roads and cycle trails are the biz. The fun factor is seriously high, and it turns out that racing around tracks with a myriad of corners, lumps, bumps and other riders to avoid will actually develop your child’s hand-eye coordination and technical skills. Check out our auckland list here.
Cafes and markets
Boric Food Market (Kumeu)
If you dream of buying your fruit and veges from a source close to home (and with no nasties), and love the idea of letting your kids’ imaginations run wild in a handcrafted playground featuring tractors, little grocery stations, water pump levers, and old-fashioned tills for serving pretend customers, not to mention charming wobbly bridges and apple trees ripe for the picking, then we’ve found your new foodie go-to. Boric Food Market is a little haven for parents, tucked away in orchard country in Kumeu, Auckland, combining an artisan food market with a café and kids’ playground.
West Auckland is home to four winter family-friendly markets. If you’re not tempted by the homemade pies in Coatesville or the cultural colour and gourmet delights of the Asian night markets, then you can always check out the Lego stalls in Titirangi. Feast your eyes on our full list of Auckland’s winter markets here.
By Finn Jelicich
Image: Extreme Edge in Glen Eden