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Nature & Wildlife

Auckland best activities for animal lovers

  • 4 minutes

@Pakiri Beach Horse Rides NZ

Top 10 places to find farm animals, native birds & the marine world

Find Auckland’s wild side. Uncover where the animals live in Auckland from farm animals everyone can pet to adorable waddling penguins. View turtles and marine creatures in Leigh or spend time in a bird hide on the Miranda shoreline. Think about joining a horse trek on the magnificent sandy Pakiri beach or delve into the lives of rhinos at the Auckland zoo. For more amazing places outdoors to visit in Auckland consult Amazing Auckland travel guide and get your walking boots laced and ready to go.

Muriwai Gannets, New Zealand
Muriwai Gannets, NZ

Gannets Muriwai Beach

Discover thousands of gannets, wheeling, soaring and nesting on a series of rock cliffs and outlying rock formations. From August to mid February the birds are in residence. West Auckland’s black iron sand beaches are a testament to the myth breaking idea a great beach is a gold sandy beach. Witness a beach glimmering in the light black and grey and feel the warmth of mineralised sand. The gannets adore Muriwai, Piha and the west coast of Auckland.

Learn more about where to go Auckland’s West Coast Beaches travel guide, things to do: NZ Jane.


The best time to visit Muriwhai is October to Feburary.

Sea Life

Sea Life Kelly Tarlton Aquarium narrates the story of the Antarctic complete with penguins waddling and stingrays circling in their watery home. Turtles rest on rocks while sharks circle the ocean tunnel. A favourite is the seahorse with its elegant upright posture. For kiwis the long fin eel is a reminder of the importance of native species to the food chain. Plan your visit around feed talks and enjoy the spectacle.

@Auckland Zoo
@Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo

Take in the sight and sounds of Auckland Zoo and check out the conservation work they’re doing. Auckland Zoo is home to at least 144 different species, over 1400 animals and has the largest diversity of wildlife in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The landscaped grounds invite visitors to picnic near their favourite exhibit. Adjoining Western Springs and located on a regularly serviced bus route Auckland Zoo is a popular year round destination.

Butterfly Creek

Delicate ephemeral beauty flit past your shoulder at Butterfly Creek. The world is awash with the vibrant colour of the tropical butterfly house. The attraction has a dinosaur theme park, saltwater crocodiles and mermaids, dragons and fairies in a mythical creatures exhibit. The gift shop is hard to resist with themed cups, pencils and collectables part of the exit process.

@Butterfly Creek
@Butterfly Creek

Farm animals & Auckland Regional Parks

Spring is a good time to enjoy baby animals from lambs, goats and cows. The nearest Regional Park Amberley invites visitors to enter paddocks. Wander among farm animals at Ambury Park… There are grassy walks between the animal enclosures and visitors are welcome to enter the paddocks (except during lambing mid-July to early August). You might see sheep, goats, cows, calves, pigs, pet lambs, chickens, turkey, rabbits and the elusive peacock.

Ambury Regional Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Ambury Regional Park, NZ

Other regional parks with farm animals are: Omana, Tāwharanui, Tāwharanui is an Open Sanctuary with a working sheep and cattle farm. In the springtime, many visitors come to see the lambs, Ātiu Creek  is a working sheep and cattle farm. In the springtime, lambs are a popular sight attracting many visitors, Duder Regional Park, with  grazing sheep and cattle on the farmland. Mahurangi park has approximately 100 breeding ewes and may have cattle present also. Lambing attracts visitors in the springtime. Shakespear is an Open Sanctuary with a working farm of sheep and cattle. In the springtime, lambs are a popular sight attracting many visitors.

Read more about Auckland’s Regional Parks Amazing Auckland, Puhoi, Warkworth, Matakana and beyond, beaches and parks.


Find North Auckland’s local inhabitants, Algiers Bay donkeys.

Cornwall Park

The location makes Cornwall Park the number one spot for farm visits in spring. The avenue is filled with daffodils, the cherry blossoms and calves and lambs create a country feel to the extensive grounds.

Read more about Cornwall Park or combine a visit with TOP-3 Auckland places, walks, what to see, getting there: Best Bits.

Cornwall Park bridal poses + bridedog, New Zealand
Cornwall Park, NZ
Little blue penguin, Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand
Little blue penguin, Hauraki Gulf, NZ

Native birds – Hauraki Gulf Islands

Explore Tiritiri Matangi and Rotoroa Islands in the Hauraki Gulf, prolific bird life where the introduced pests (ferrets, rats, cats) have been eliminated. The cheeky weka is a meet and greet ambassador of Rotoroa Island and likely to be at the wharf landing. Read more Weekend escape to your private island, Rotoroa Island, Hauraki Gulf.


Many NZ birds either nest on the ground or have lost the ability to fly. A definite survival threat in a world of scurrying predators.

Miranda shorebirds

Miranda shorebirds are best viewed at 2 hours either side of the low tide. The sheer mass of flocks of birds descending to peak at morsels in the exposed tidal flats is memorising. The tidal flats largely consist of crushed shells. It is truly beautiful viewing a landscape of sky melding into the flat glimmering chenier beach. Using the shop resources for children they are shown the landscape from a bird’s perspective. Fascinating is the bird migration watch whereby individual tagged birds are accurately located on an interactive world map.

Miranda Shore Bird Centre, Auckland, New Zealand
Miranda Shore Bird Centre, NZ

The Mirandashoreline is not a swimming beach, those are just around the corner (actually a few corners) on your way back to Auckland. Read more about things to do on the Pohutukawa Coast.

@Ti Point Reptile Park
@Ti Point Reptile Park

Reptile Park

Go snorkelling in a marine reserve in Leigh at Goat Island Marine Reserve. Find out what to do in Leigh and the animals you will meet. What’s so great about Leigh – Best Bits. TI Point Reptile Park introduces visitors to tutuara, a native reptile survivor from the age of dinosaurs. Alligators, iguanas, tortoises, turtles and even tarantulas can be viewed. The park’s coastal setting has picnic tables inviting visitors to relax in an outdoor setting. There is a giant tortoise who travels from Auckland Zoo for the holidays.

Horse riding

Horse ride on a glittering 14 km of white finely ground quartz sandy Pakiri beach. The attraction is the feeling of not being overwhelmed by crowded beaches.

Pakiri Beach Horse Rides. Join the locals who have a working farm and go horse riding. Feel the sea breeze as you trot along the beach with the only sound hoof beats and the surf.

Dolphin and whale watch tours. Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is explored by catamaran. The 4.5 hour cruise sails into the Hauraki Marine Reserve for encounters with Bryde’s whales and common dolphins, but you may also meet pygmy blue whales, New Zealand fur seals, sharks, manta rays, turtles and up to 26 species of seabirds.

@Pakiri Beach Horse Rides NZ
@Pakiri Beach Horse Rides NZ


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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