Discover Another Auckland by Karen Phelps
We’ve all done it. Seen or heard about some great Auckland attraction, planned to do it, had the best intentions but somehow never quite got around to it… Well summer is here and there’s no time like the present for exploring all the great things sitting right on your own back doorstep.
HOWICK HISTORICAL VILLAGE
A replica village of early settlement of the area, Howick Historical Village displays both Maori and early European history. Go on a live day and you will see people dressed in traditional garb living, as they would have around 1840-80. Better yet these live ‘exhibits’ answer your questions and you can even join in demonstrations.
Location: Bells Road, Pakuranga, Auckland, 09 5769506, www.fencible.org.nz, open 10am – 5pm daily (last admission 4pm).
Cost: $10 adult, $5 children (preschoolers free), $8 students/seniors, family pass $25 (2 adults, 2 kids). Next live days are Sketch in Time (20 February) and Country Village Fair (20 March).
The tropical Butterfly House is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Walk through and see around 70 species of tropical butterflies – some of which will even land on you if you keep still long enough. Other features include a walk-through exhibit building displaying bright and colourful birds, fish and reptiles, interactive farmyard Buttermilk Farm, the Red Admiral Express miniature steam train, Curly’s Playground and Papillon Bar and Cafe.
Location: Tom Pearce Drive just one minute from Auckland International Airport and next to Treasure Island Mini Golf, 09 275 8880, www.butterflycreek.co.nz Butterfly House is open 7 days 9am-6pm.
Cost: $11 adult, $6 children (3-15 years), two years and under free, $10 students/seniors. There are also family and combo prices if you want to see more than one of the attractions in the complex.
There was once a quarry on these slopes of Mt Eden; today it has been transformed into an award-winning garden. Eden Garden features a great collection of plants, mature trees and flowering shrubs offering an oasis just five minutes from the central city. Horticultural shows are staged throughout the year and there is a café on site serving fresh food baked daily.
Location: 24 Omana Avenue, Epsom, Auckland, 09 6388395, www.edengarden.co.nz, open daily 9am – 4.30pm.
Cost: $5 adults, $3.50 seniors, children free. Annual membership ($20 per person or $35 per couple) gives you access to the garden as often as you like.
Famous for its pohutukawa forest and over 200 species of native plants the main drawcard is the hike up to the summit and lava caves (2-½ hours return) and swimming. Make sure you wear sturdy footwear (the black rock is very hot), take sun block and something to eat and drink. If you don’t feel like walking catch a ride to the top on a Volcanic Explorer 4WD guided safari, which takes you straight to the base of the summit cone.
Location: Ferry departs from Fullers Cruise Centre, Ferry Building, Quay Street, Auckland, 09 3679111, www.fullers.co.nz
Cost: Ferry $18.40 adult, $10.40 children, $51.60 family (2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 4 children).Volcanic Explorer $29 adult, $15 children.
GOAT ISLAND MARINE RESERVE
Come and meet the friendly fish at this marine reserve, which has been officially open to the public since 1977. The Goat Island Channel is not deep (between 2 and 5m), which suits young swimmers. In general the months January to June will give clearest waters with up to 15m visibility. Remember feeding the fish is prohibited as fish can learn strange habits such as eating the wrong food and even nibbling on swimmers' fingers!
Location: Head north to Leigh then turn north towards Pakiri on the Leigh-Pakiri Road. After 1.5km turn right into Goat Island Road.
Cost: Visiting the area is free. If you choose you can hire snorkelling and diving equipment at Seafriends Marine Conservation and Education Centre, 7 Goat Island Road, Leigh. Here there is also a marine nature library and seawater aquarium, which is free. Ph 09 422 6212, www.seafriends.org.nz
SHAKESPEARE REGIONAL PARK
Fish, windsurf, swim, snorkel or dive at this sheltered bay at the tip of the Whangaparoa Peninsula. There are a few walks including one to a look out giving great views of the Hauraki Gulf and a walk through the Waterfall Gully where you can see glow worms in the evening. Camping is also permitted.
Location: approximately 50km or 40 minutes drive from downtown Auckland. Follow State Highway 1 north and take the Silverdale off ramp. Go through Silverdale, turn right onto Whangaparaoa Road and follow the signs to the end of the peninsula. Buses run daily from Auckland. For camping permits contact Auckland Regional Council 09 3662000.
KINDER HOUSE AND EWELME COTTAGE
Kinder House is said to be haunted by the ghost of Kinder’s brother Henry, who was murdered by his wife’s lover. This building dates back to 1857 and you can wander through and admire the paintings done by former owner John Kinder. Nearby NZ Historic Places Trust building Ewelme Cottage is also said to be haunted and featured in the film The Piano. It is surrounded by rambling old English style garden and contains original furniture and chattels from the 1860’s.
Location: Ewelme Cottage, 14 Ayre Street, Parnell, open Friday – Sunday 10.30am – 12pm, 1pm – 4.30pm. Kinder House, 2 Ayre Street, Parnell, open Tuesday - Sunday 11.00am - 3.00pm.
Cost: Ewelme Cottage $7.50 adults, school age children free. Group concessions by arrangement. Kinder House $2 adult, 50 cents children.
Home to hundreds of animals Auckland Zoo is one of those places you can visit repeatedly and always see something new. Try to go for the Zoo Encounters and hear the keepers talk about the animals (schedule on website), you can even hand feed a giraffe. Or see what the animals get up to at night on a guided Safari Nights experience where if you choose you can have a barbecue and even sleep over at the zoo.
Location: Motions Road, Western Springs, Auckland, 09 3603805, information line 09 3603819, www.aucklandzoo.co.nz Auckland Zoo is open every day (excluding Christmas Day) from 9.30am - 5.30pm (last admissions at 4.15pm.)
Cost: $16.00 adults, $8.00 children (aged 4 - 15 years, under 4 is free), senior citizens/ students - $12.00.
The must see is the planetarium show where you will be introduced to what is currently happening in New Zealand's night sky. With the Zeiss Skymaster star projector you can see over 3000 stars plus planets and moon phases. Weather permitting there is courtyard telescope viewing after the shows. You can also purchase a ticket to look through the largest telescope in the North Island.
Location: One Tree Hill Domain, off Manukau Rd, Royal Oak, Ph 09 624 1246, www.stardrome.org.nz Shows run Wednesday – Saturday, 8pm and 9pm during daylight savings and 7pm and 8pm otherwise.
Cost: $12 adults, $6 children (under 15), $10 seniors/students, $30 family (two adults and up to three children). Additional $8 per person to look through the large telescope.
The Rainforest Express is a narrow gauge railway, which runs through the Waitakere Ranges. As you travel through tunnels you can view glow worms and cave wetas. The trip takes 2.5 hours and bookings are essential. Nearby the Arataki Visitors Centre on Scenic Drive is also worth a visit with interactive displays and live wetas, stick insects and geckos. At the back of the centre is a five-minute walk to a look out giving great views of the area.
Location: Rainforest Express, 280 Scenic Drive, Ph 0800 NZRAINFOREST (0800 697 246), www.watercare.co.nz
Cost: $20 adults,$10 child (5-12 years), under fives free, $18 seniors/under 18 years. Also 3.5-hour twilight trips available during summer and charter trips.