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.
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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