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Auckland is all about adventure and your kids will love being along on this trip. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to do with kids in Auckland.
1. Visit Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. This popular aquarium has more than 30 live animal exhibits, and lets visitors get up-close views of sharks, huge rays, and Antarctic penguins. Underwater tunnels let you see the animals swimming around you.
2. Tour Auckland Zoo. Opened in 1922, the impressive Auckland Zoo has more than 100 species, including rare Sumatran tigers, red pandas and kiwis. The zoo hosts daily animal encounters, in which keepers introduce visitors to specific animals.
3. See the War Memorial Museum. The Domain, the city's largest park, is also home to this huge natural history museum. Make sure to check out the sections on the Pacific islands, New Zealand colonial history, and the bird and animal specimens.
4. Watch a Maori cultural show. Take in a performance by a Maori dance group; shows usually feature the haka, a poi dance, and tales from Maori legends. Some local Maori meeting houses host performances, as does the War Memorial Museum and several tour companies.
5. Explore Rainbow's End. The country's premier amusement park, Rainbow's End has roller coasters, bumper cars, and log rides — all the fun rides you'd expect. It also has costumed characters walking around, and activities for older kids like miniature golf and a video arcade.
* Butterfly Creek: The premier attraction of this place is the Tropical Butterfly House. It's the is the largest in the southern hemisphere, hosting more than 700 free-flying, exotic butterflies from Asia and South America.The Butterfly House also includes a large walk-through exhibit with New Zealand’s largest tropical freshwater aquarium containing Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika cichlidsand a coral reef tank. Other features of Butterfly Creek include Buttermilk Farm interactive farmyard with alpacas, rabbits and lambs, the Red Admiral Express train and Papillon Bar and Café. (Tom Pearce Drive, Tel: 09 275 8880)
* Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium: Get up close to the magnificent King Penguins and playful Gentoo Penguins with an on-the-ice encounter in the world's largest sub-Antarctic penguin colony display. See the world’s biggest species of stingray and New Zealand’s largest collection of sharks. Journey through the vast underwater aquarium, get your hands wet in the interactive touchpools and marvel at the magical Seahorse Kingdom. Kelly Tarlton’s is a fantastic family experience for all ages and one of Auckland’s most popular attractions. (23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Tel: 09 528 0603)
* Auckland Zoo-Te Wao Nui: Te Wao Nui offers Zoo visitors the opportunity to experience Aotearoa's native animals, plants and living cultural history in a way that’s never been done before in New Zealand. Te Wao Nui encompasses six distinct ecosystems, covers a quarter of the Zoo’s on-display area, and is home to many unique creatures including the world’s rarest duck (that also doesn’t fly) to one of the planet’s heaviest insects, frogs that don’t croak, and a reptile-like creature that pre-dates dinosaurs! (Motions Road, Western Springs, Tel: 09 360 3804)