Auckland for families

“I’m bored” are two words every parent dreads hearing. A stay at Heritage Auckland, however, is guaranteed to keep boredom at bay, with plenty of family things to do within easy reach of your CBD hotel.

For action the Heritage is just one block from the Skytower, with its glass front elevators, glass floors, and soaring views, or if you want more (for the bigger kids ten and over) there’s the thrilling Sky Walk. The Harbour Bridge is also close by, and from age seven you can participate in a bridge climb.

It’s only a short stroll down to the waterfront, and at the new Wynyard Quarter there’s an award-winning playground, plenty of open space to run around, boats to watch, and heaps of kid-friendly places to stop for lunch.

The Voyager NZ Maritime Museum celebrates New Zealanders’ love for the sea, from the migration of early Polynesian voyagers, to modern day yachting. Then if you want to really experience it, enquire about a trip on a genuine America’s Cup Yacht –an encounter usually only available to billionaires and elite yachtsmen (but here no prior experience is needed). On the edge of the waterfront, just down the hill from the hotel, the Tepid Baths have also been entirely refurbished including a new learner’s pool with graduated depth and a slightly warmer temperature for little bodies. 

A family holiday in Auckland is all about getting out from behind the computer and TV to move, experience, see and learn. The Auckland Museum has interactive areas and holiday programmes to help history come alive, and the Art Gallery, Toi o Tāmaki has very well-resourced drop-in sessions, holiday programmes, and a creative learning centre with studio courses for children. Guided walks can also teach the history of Auckland, or a smart phone can turn a walk into a modern day orienteering style treasure hunt with geocaching.

Auckland sits in the heart of the Hauraki Gulf, so its attractions are easily accessed from the CBD hotels. The Ferry terminal at the bottom of Queen Street is your gateway to the islands, some featuring world class conservation programmes. At Tiritiri Matangi the predator-free environment is home to some of the world’s rarest birds. Iconic Rangitoto is the newest island at just over 600 years old and is an ideal family day trip in Auckland with tracks to the summit and lava tunnels to explore. Take lunch, refreshments, a torch (for tunnels) and good walking shoes to these islands.

Plan to spend some time exploring beautiful Waiheke island, just a 40-minte ferry trip from downtown Auckland. Ecozip adventures promise fun from age eight to eighty-eight with an eco-immersive forest experience. For on-water adventure there’s the Explore NZ Whale and Dolphin Safari; with the promise of an impressive range of marine mammals; a 90% chance of seeing dolphins, and a 75% chance of spotting whales. The kids will have the adventure of a lifetime, and at the end of the day you can sip on some of the region's best wine at one of the vineyards on Waiheke Island.

The Auckland Zoo remains a favourite for getting to know native creatures and exotic animals. The zoo has a continuously changing programme of fun and educational activities for children; or you can just wander and enjoy. The extensive opened Te Wao Nui precinct features an immersive experience of New Zealand's animals, plants and culture over six different habitats including Te Pō –the night, where the kiwi bird can be seen. If you are visiting Auckland in your own vehicle there’s ample parking, otherwise there are regular buses from the city, or you can catch a corporate cab from right outside your hotel.

For provisions like sunblock and snacks for these family expeditions, just ask your concierge where the nearest supermarkets are. Your concierge can also advise you on public transport in Auckland.  The City Link bus is wheelchair and pushchair friendly and a great help if small legs get a bit tired while the inner Link and outer Link Buses run through the city centre and loop around suburbs across Auckland city, making branching out a breeze. Ponsonby Road is a short hop away and there’s something for every kid’s culinary taste at the Ponsonby Food Hall, while small girls will delight in a visit to the Fairy Shop.

There’s no doubt the activities within minutes of the hotel can keep a family more than occupied for the length of the average holiday, and there are always plenty of great seasonal activities on, especially during school holidays. The front desk can give you more details of what’s going on. But should you wish to venture further afield then you could head to the tropical wonders of Butterfly Creek, the chilly action environment of Snow Planet, or visit a piece of Middle Earth: Hobbiton; again, just enquire at the front desk.

The Heritage’s range of different rooms means you can have as much space and facilities as you would like, and remember: if the perfect family holiday includes a little 'time out' for the adults, the front desk can also help arrange babysitting.