If there's an animal-obsessed child in your household, then we know you’ll be hearing “Can we get a pet?” (most likely a puppy, but specifically a horse for some unlucky parents ) on a daily basis. Fortunately, we’ve managed to find all the friendly animals in Auckland to love (without having to own). You’re welcome.
Kiwi Valley Farm Park
Where? 308 Henderson Valley Road, Henderson Valley
Farm animals galore! (including gorgeous baby bunnies). If your children have ever wondered what it’s like to be a rural kiwi kid dedicated to all things goats, cows and piggies, then this is for them. At Kiwi Valley, kids are given the opportunity to feed the animals, enjoy a pony ride or hang out with the friendly farm dogs.
Help out at the SPCA
Where? 50 Westney Rd, Mangere
Visting the local SPCA is an awesome idea for kids wanting to help out animals who are in need of a bit of extra love and attention. If you are unable to visit your local SPCA or adopt a new pet, there are plenty of other exciting and helpful ways to get involved. SPCA has a variety of DIY activities to participate in, including the creation of toys and blankets which will ensure the animals are kept stimulated and snug until they find a new family.
Where? 99 Motions Road, Western Springs
All kiddos have a favourite animal and it's likely they will find them at the Auckland Zoo. The adorable meerkats or playful lions sure keep the whole family fascinated and entertained for hours on end. In school holidays, they run a Junior Keeper programme that allows children to experience real-life zookeeping jobs and interactions for those wanting to get their hands dirty.
Where? 10 Tom Pearce Drive, Auckland Airport
Named after its incredible butterfly displays, this animal attraction has become a family favourite in Auckland. Butterfly Creek is home to chompy crocodiles, cheeky monkeys, and a miniature train ride, as well as the interactive Dinosaur Kingdom that will take your kids back to prehistoric days with mammoth, moving, roaring dinosaurs. There is also a delicious café to replenish hungry bodies during an exciting day.
Where? 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei
Although Auckland is surrounded by beautiful beaches and rock pools, many of us don’t get to witness all the action that happens underwater. Luckily, Kelly Tarlton’s showcases over 30 animal exhibits, including Antarctic penguins and sharks, so all our sea-life curiosities are answered.
Where? New Zealand Maritime Museum, 175 Quay Street, Viaduct Harbour
If your family is keen on spotting dolphins and whales – there are awesome experiences available to observe these animals in the waters of New Zealand. Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari provide tours that cross the Hauraki Gulf hoping to find these beautiful creatures at the surface and playing around for their audience.
Tiritiri Matangi Island
Where? Ferry from Downtown Ferry Terminal, Auckland
Not far offshore from Auckland lies Tiritiri Matangi, one of New Zealand's most incredible animal sanctuaries. Here, you will hear chirping all day long from coastal birds, scenic picnic spots and the 150-year-old lighthouse. This trip is ideal for children who are passionate about animals and the conservation of our environment.
Where? 173A Archers Road, Hillcrest
New Zealand's first cat café is located on Auckland’s North Shore. Fresh food followed by an interactive play with cuddly kitties is exactly what every kid dreams of. With over 20 rescued cats on site, children are sure to find a new feline friend.
Clevedon Animal Park
Where? 271 Clevedon Kawakawa Road, Clevedon
At Clevedon Animal Park, children will be taught how to talk to, groom and ride a pony or horse. If this isn’t for your youngsters, there are also friendly alpacas and goats on site who love being fed by visitors.
Muriwai Beach Gannets
Where? 428 Motutara Road, Waitakere, Muriwai
Get up close and personal with the gannet bird colony located alongside the beautiful Muriwai Beach coastline in West Auckland. Here you will be able to observe the birds in full flight while taking in the incredible views. Enjoy some fish and chips, watch the sunset and make sure you don’t let the birds get too close to dinner!
Ambury Regional Park
Where? 43 Ambury Road, Mangere Bridge
This spot is perfect for families in need of a weekend adventure close to home. Run by the Auckland Council, children are able to see sheep, chooks and goats in action. There is also an educational centre and opportunities to feed some of the charming animals.
Where? 80 Candia Road, Swanson
Who would’ve thought you could scream on a rollercoaster, learn about the mining history of New Zealand and feed adorable farm animals all in a day's work? After visiting the many animals on site, take a trip to the Dinosaur Gully on the express train.
Where? 22 stores throughout Auckland (check link your local)
Throughout New Zealand, Animates stores often hold exciting and educational activities for children to get involved in. We recommend regularly checking their events calendar to keep up-to-date with any exciting programmes they have planned. In the past, this has included nurturing sessions and pet fun days.
By Finn Jelicich