Why should Queenstown or the North Island ski fields get all the love when it comes to winter holidays? Have you considered the City of Sails as a place to stay in winter? Car hire in Auckland might peak during the warmer summer months, but New Zealand’s biggest city has a lot going for it as a cool-season destination as well.
For a start, Auckland’s climate remains mild during winter with an average high temperature during July of 14 degrees; this makes it considerably warmer than many other New Zealand centres. And even though it is considered a metropolitan area, Auckland has plenty of holiday attractions just out of town, so you get the best of both worlds – a city experience with a lot of wide-open spaces to enjoy as well. Here are some of the biggest Auckland attractions to check out this winter:
If you’re flying into Auckland, pick up your rental car at the airport then make the short drive to Butterfly Creek, which is just down the road at Tom Pearce Drive, about two minutes from the airport. As the name suggests, Butterfly Creek is alive with colourful and exotic butterflies, as well as birds, fish and reptiles, including saltwater crocodiles. The train, playground and cafe are other features makes this place a real family favourite.
Another family favourite, and a fun alternative to making the trek to the ski fields in the central North Island. Snowplanet is in Silverdale, just 20 minutes north of Auckland, and is New Zealand’s first and only snowdome. There are over 8,000 square metres of real snow, with all the room in the world for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and games under one roof.
Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium:
A year-round underwater wonderland featuring over 30 live animal exhibits, with the highlight being the underwater tunnels where you can see sharks and giant stingrays up close. Just 15 minutes from the central city, making this iconic attraction an easy place to get to in your hire car.
Like Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium, MOTAT is another Auckland institution. But for all its fame, it still has the ability to surprise thanks to the ever-changing exhibits, as well as the ongoing displays that give a fascinating insight into New Zealand’s transport and technology history. Two sites – Western Springs and Point Chevalier – are linked by a vintage tram ride, which just adds to the fun.
Parakai Thermal Springs:
A lovely way to stay warm on a crisp winters day, and just 40 minutes north of Auckland, making it another easily accessible attraction. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor pools of varying temperatures, with the highlight being a massive open-air heated pool with a gently sloping beach area which is a hit with the kids.
No list of Auckland’s winter attractions is complete without Rainbow’s End. New Zealand’s largest theme park features over 20 rides and is located in Manukau, making it another airport-adjacent venue. Opening times vary depending on the time of year, so be sure to check before heading there as part of your winter break in Auckland.
Auckland is widely seen as a centre of New Zealand business – and it is. But when it comes to leisure, it more than holds its own, even in winter. So make the most of the mild climate, and all of the attractions, entertainment and dining options, by making the big city your cool-season destination.