The Auckland Zoo

General Info:

The Auckland Zoo is an awesome day trip for when you don’t want to make too much of an effort, it is quite close to the CBD. The Zoo is open 7 days a week (except Christmas Day) from 9:30AM – 5:30PM, with the latest entry at 4:15PM. Even in the summer months, we went mid-week and there was barely anyone else there. I’d suggest avoiding weekends if possible.

The price for a single adult ticket is $28, but we paid half that by using BookMe (always check BookMe before paying full price for an activity!). The Auckland Zoo is a good size, but not too big, and with not too many extreme hills which makes it pretty easy to walk.


How to Get There:

Driving to the Auckland Zoo would obviously be the easiest. Its only 8 minutes from the CBD, and there is loads of parking. Basically, you hop on State Highway 16 and head west (consult your GPS for more exact directions).

Fortunately, if you’d like to take public transit, you only need to take one bus from the CBD. Get on the 135 towards Swanson for about 15 minutes, and hop off at Motions Road. Follow the signs and walk from there.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also walk there from the city centre. Its only about 5km, but never forget that Auckland is made of hills, although fortunately it is mostly downhill on the way there. The walk took us about 90 minutes, and we weren’t to exhausted to continue walking around the rest of the day. However, there is one super massive hill that you go down on the way to the zoo, and for that reason alone we took the bus home.


The Day

For me, a zoo visit is a full day event. With a fully charged camera and an empty memory card, I like to get there as early as possible and leave only when I have to. Fewer things make me happier than staring at (and photographing) animals all day. I’ll only show you my absolute favourites, or this post would take 9 hours to read.


First off was the tigers. I adore tigers. They were the first animal I ever wanted as a pet, before I realised how awful of an idea that was. We actually had a hard time spotting this one in its enclosure, which was great.  Those stripes actually work really well for camouflage when surrounded by plants. This encounter was a lot less intense than when a tiger looked me in the eye in Adelaide, but it is humbling to see them regardless.


We spend way, way too much time looking at the otters. These cheeky little things were having a great time, playing in their stream and waterfall, and collecting gems from the bottom of their pond. When they got tired of goofing off, they all dried themselves off and took a nap in the sun.


One of my favourite features of the Auckland Zoo was the meerkat enclosure. It basically was like watching a live-action version of Meerkat Manor. One of them was keeping guard while the rest dug a burrow, or taught the little ones to dig. Even better was when we found the underground tunnels that let you get eye-level with them in little plastic domes. It is a really cool feature, although we quickly found out that it was sized for children, and not two grown idiots. I almost got stuck crawling on my hands and knees, while holding my camera and wearing a backpack. This day could have turned out a whole lot more embarrassing. This one was definitely judging me.


Flamingoes are pretty bizarre birds. On this day, they really felt like posing for me, which was nice. What wasn’t so nice was the whole flock bullying just one of the birds, not letting it near any of the rest. It wasn’t a full on flamingo fight, but there was a lot of aggressive honking.




The two lovely lady elephants at the Auckland Zoo were hilarious. They really loved the mulch that was being placed in their enclosure, but they really hated the tractor that was doing the job. They’d run up to play with the mulch, and then run away as soon as the tractor came in to dump another load off. One of the volunteers told us this was a daily occurrence. I guess an elephant never forgets how much it hates heavy machinery.



The African Savannah exhibit was really cool, even though it was under construction all the time. It feels very open concept because the zebras, giraffes and antelopes are all hanging out together on one side of a high bridge, and the lions are on the other side. Fortunately, the lions are separate or they’d be missing a few antelopes.








Perhaps that is why this lioness was giving us such dirty looks. She knew we could see snacks.


I’d like to thank all the volunteers at the Auckland Zoo, they do such an amazing job of offering extra information that you’d never think to ask about. If you head to the zoo and you see any of them, stop for a chat! They probably will have some awesome trivia for you.

For example this rock, which isn’t in any of the animal enclosures, but still is part of the decor. It isn’t a rock, its actually a plant, full of loads of water. We would have walked right past it if a Zoo Volunteer hadn’t pointed it out to us.


The rest of the Auckland Zoo was great, other highlights included watching a tortoise go to town on its lunch. I thought only I got that excited about my food.


I may or may not have spent some time trying to talk a red panda into leaving in my backpack. She was having none of it.


Oh right, and we almost broke a peacock. Well, not literally. I have a bit of thing with birds – they sometimes go a bit nuts around me. We were following this one at quite a distance, hoping he would show us his tail. Much like the kookaburra in Brisbane, it just wandered around making its call for about 5 minutes. Whoopsie.




We had been pretty lucky with the weather for most of the day. It was warm, but overcast, and the lack of harsh sun made all the animals happy to be outside. Until later in the afternoon when it began to absolutely bucket down. Fortunately, we found a viewing hut to stay dry-ish in while watching a family of gibbons do the same in their little hut.

I’m fairly confident we were the last ones to leave the zoo (success!). I’d definitely recommend it as and Auckland-based day trip to anyone. Easy to get to, not too big, and not too many hills to walk up and down.

My only caveat with the Auckland Zoo were the photos we were offered upon leaving. When we first arrived at the zoo, one of the staff had us pose a few times in front of a green screen and she took a some pictures. We had completely forgotten about them until we were about to leave, when a staff member presented us with a folder of printed photos. I wish they had been in our budget, because they were pretty hilarious (running away from tigers for example), but they were pretty pricey for a few prints. We declined, but I couldn’t help but think about how many photos get tossed at the end of the day when the cost was too much for attendees. The Auckland Zoo prides itself on conservation, and does a great job of that in a lot of ways, so why are they wasting so many resources on prints that might get tossed in the garbage? Most tourist attractions now have a way for you to see your photos before having them printed off.

I’d strongly suggest declining the photos at the beginning of your zoo day if you know you wont want them to avoid unnecessary printing. Other than that, The the Auckland Zoo is a part of some really cool conservation projects!


Keep it Budget

  • As with all New Zealand tourist activities, check BookMe first for a lower price. We got our zoo tickets at 50% off!
  • Transit: Auckland buses can be a bit expensive, so unless you have a car, I suggest walking to the zo and taking the bus home.
  • Pack a lunch. The Auckland Zoo has really nice picnic areas, so there’s no need to pay for any of their food options if you’re looking to save some money.

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24 Comment

  1. Soumya says: Reply

    Wow amazing pictures. Even though I am not a fan of zoos, this one looks much better than the usual ones. My favourite is the baby elephant.

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Thank you! I’m often in a torn mind about zoos. Fortunately I have never been to a ‘bad’ one, and I hope never to. I try and do a bit of research about them before I go, and the Auckland Zoo is a part of some really great conservation efforts for native New Zealand animals. That is definitely a cause I can get behind 🙂 Would you believe those are actually full-grown elephants? They’re Asian, not African elephants so they don’t get nearly as large. Thanks for reading!

  2. mario says: Reply

    Cool pics. I especially liked the tiger & zebra photos. Also, thanks for the booking advice 😀

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Thanks for reading! After a tiger, the next pet I was after as a kid was a zebra – guess I had a thing for stripes? Bookme is the greatest website for finding deals! They also have a website for Australia and Fiji 🙂

  3. Wow, this looks like a great zoo! So many different animals!

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      I really enjoyed it! The zoo isn’t “too big” and easily walkable, and they seemed to be doing loads of construction to improve the layout and size of many of the exhibits!

  4. Leslie says: Reply

    I’m so happy to see the African Savannah habitat is proper, huge, and allows mixed grazing. Very natural.

    Great tip about Bookme. I had no idea discounts could be up to 50%!

    I wonder if Aukland Zoo would be open to offering digital photos, at a reduced cost, to reduce on waste. White water rafting companies in Uganda offer both.

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      It was really nice to see a well-thought out exhibit for some of their largest animals. There was also a mix of rhinos and some type of gazelle in another enclosure (not pictured). You can tell they really want to make it the best they can and are continuing to update and improve their facilities!

      Bookme is probably the greatest discovery and money-saver for me since I came to New Zealand, its made quite a few activities that would have been out of our price range more affordable.

      And I totally agree, I’m really surprised the Zoo doesn’t already run a program like this already, most of the other activities we’ve done that involve photos have it too. Very strange to me.

  5. I laughed out loud on this: “with a fully charged camera and an empty memory card”, that is my life as well. It’s like those are the most important things that I must never ever forget when I leave the house. Lol.

    I have never seen a flamingo before, why were they bullying that one flamingo I wonder.

  6. Naomi says: Reply

    I love the Zoo and love to visit them if I have the change! This one looks like a great option for a day trip! Thanks for sharing

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Glad you found it helpful 🙂 I will also always try and visit any zoo I come across, providing it isn’t dodgy.

  7. Cassie says: Reply

    Wow, these photos are stunning! I’ve been to a few Zoos in North America and Europe but I feel like they don’t have the same diversity as this did! I always feel a bit of a twinge of guilt though about the animals.

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed them 🙂 Sometimes a lack of diversity isn’t a bad thing if it means they can devote more time and space to the animals they do look after.

  8. Your flamingo photos are so beautiful! Looks like animals in Auckland Zoo have big shelters, what’s excellent! I’ve visited some ZOOs which made me cry because of the size and condition of the shelters and animals itself…
    Mercats are my favorite animals to watch – I could stay there the whole day and laugh! And of course, I would try the tunnels as well hehehe 🙂

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Aww thank you 🙂 The Auckland Zoo does feel like they’ve definitely put the space of the habitats in mind above having a massive variety of animals. I always try and research the zoo I visit first, I’d hate to accidentally visit some of those awful ones. You’d love the meerkat exhibit!

  9. I love those pictures! I haven’t been to the zoo in a very long time (I feel I’m a bit too old for it now), but it was nice remembering some of my encounters with animals in the wild recently. I’d really love to see some of the animals you mentioned in the wild – going on a safari is definitely on my bucket list and this just made me more excited to do it one day!

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Thank you! I don’t think you can ever really be too old for a zoo 🙂 Although nothing compares to seeing animals out in the wild, I also dream of seeing many of them out there. I’d love to go on safari too. One day!

  10. I have a mixed feeling towards zoos (though I actually like them). I love your shots because I know how tough it is to take good pictures of animals. All of the animals are so lovely <3

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Thank you 🙂 We were lucky that it was a cooler day and it was very quiet and empty so all the animals were just hanging out. And, I know what you mean. I wish there wasn’t a need for them, but I always have such a good time. I feel a lot better about it by visiting zoos that do a ton of conservation work, breeding programs, and wild releases 🙂

  11. Oh my word, I love zoos too! And I always end up taking wayyy too many pictures! I’ve never heard of BookMe before though, will definitely be checking that out in future – thanks for the tip!

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Ooh yeah, this was only a small fraction of the total photos or you’d STILL be looking at them! There’s also a BookMe site for the East Coast of Australia, and Fiji as well, if you’re ever out that way!

  12. Your photos are stunning! I am heading to NZ in November. I don’t think time will permit making it to the zoo but thanks for the tip on ‘Book Me’. I will definitely check it out!

    1. Lisa Martin says: Reply

      Ooh that’s so exciting, do you know where you’ll be visiting yet? I’ll be hanging out somewhere on the South Island still. Definitely check BookMe before you do basically any tours or activities. It even has meal discounts sometimes. There’s also a program called First Table in some cities that gets you 50% off your dinner bill, a must if you plan on eating out!

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