That ice-cold wash of excitement as water splashes all over you, when you come hurtling down a slide. That sigh of contentment mixed with awe when you spot a red panda, nuzzling up to you. They say adventure and wildlife are two of the most fantastic ways to explore a country, and we couldn’t agree more when it comes to New Zealand. For a country that is relatively small, it doesn’t lack for some of the most memorable zoos and amusement parks. So, make sure you take a break from the cultural and historic, to spend time at these vivid destinations.
This has got to rate high on your list simply because it’s like nothing else you’ve experienced. Located at a former psychiatric hospital, it’s also said to be one of the most haunted places in the Southern Hemisphere! This immersive amusement park has really scary themed rooms and sets, engaged by live actors who play their parts so well, that you’re guaranteed to leave, completely spooked out. And what makes it so special? Obviously next-level lighting, acting, makeup, craft, costume and special effects. The Haunted House here is known to attract most tourists, but don’t miss other scare-fests like The Woods, Disturbia and CornEvil. No, we’re not telling you what they comprise of…discover them for yourself!
After all the natural, scenic and cultural attractions of New Zealand have amazed you to the next level, it’s a good idea to hop across to this Magic Land for a day. First things first, you meet the most interesting people here – Rai and Bow, Princess Sapphire, Enzo the magician, and a whole gamut of characters. Situated at a 20-minute drive from Auckland CBD, you have the choice of over 20+ rides that come with very creative names: Corkscrew Coaster, Power Surge, The Invader, Stratosphere and much more.
The fact that this is the largest zoo in New Zealand and is home to over 120 different species of animals, should be enough reason for you to make a visit. Spread over a 17-hectare area next to the beautiful Western Springs park in Central Auckland, you’ll see natural, wide and spacious enclosures here for the animals that will warm your hearts. Ever seen a cute red panda? Well, over here you can. Kiwi, tigers, elephants, meerkats…they’re all living here. So, come on over and feed them.
In the heart of 350-acres of lush farmland, your family can enjoy a day of simple, farm fun. For 40 years now, the Farm Show here has been enthralling both young and old alike with its hilarious mix of animal and farm humour. Be witness to some amazing facts and laughs as a Kiwi farmer introduces you to 19 different breeds of sheep. Ever witnessed a sheep shearing demonstration? Here’s where you can. Or just jump in and get a chance to hand-milk a cow or feed a baby-lamb. And then, head out to see the farm dogs herd sheep back through a number of obstacles. Hey, and if you have a ticket that allows you entry into the Farmyard Nursery, you’ll love watching the smallest and cutest baby animals in Agrodome. Next best thing to this? The fruit orchards and olive grove and the chance to taste the most refreshing kiwifruit juice and the sweetest honey.
Want to challenge the adventure junkie in you? Head to Velocity Valley, and let your skill, stamina and courage take a beating. What makes this place stick out? Well, to start with, the rides are really unique and creative, and you probably haven’t seen them anywhere else in the world. Home to the only Shweeb Racer – a human-powered monorail racetrack where you can race your friends in a 3-lap circuit, it also features enthralling rides like Swoop, Agrojet – the fastest jet-sprint experience in New Zealand, Freefall Xtreme, Rotorua Bungy – a New Zealand icon and Freestyle Airbag. As you can see from the names itself, thrill lives at every turn here.
Home to over 600 different species of animals, this was formerly a farm – which basically means the animals enjoy a huge amount of space. For your family, this is an entire day of fun and entertainment, thanks to a very relaxed atmosphere and plenty of picnic spots. The keeper talks are great, and you mustn’t miss a tour, for they cover a wide range of animals. Rhinos, tigers, chimps, giraffes…some of the most fantastic beasts can be spotted here.
One of the most highly rated water parks in New Zealand, this one was originally opened as ‘Fantasy Land’ in 1967. With 12 wet rides and 7 dry ones, here’s where your kids can choose from great slide options like Master Blaster, Castle Screamer, Sky Tunnel, Super Cruiser and Single Dipper. The very-popular Never-Ending River is great fun and sure to be a big hit with the kids. And if that’s not enough, try some pirate play with attractions like Pirate Fortress and Pirate Fun. There’s a lot to be done here and we’re telling you, the kids won’t want to leave. So, go prepared!
The only open range zoo is here! And why should you visit? Because here, you can actually see the world-famous Lion Encounter. Get into a specially caged vehicle and get transported to the lion sanctuary where you’ll see this royal beast climbing all around the cage, while being fed. And if you’re still looking for more, eyeball the magnificent white rhino or hand feed a giraffe, right here. It’s so similar to a safari experience and after this, you’ll come back with newfound respect for these awesome majestic creatures. No wonder this place is called Orana – which means ‘a place of refuge’ in maori.
What are the chances you’ll visit the extremes of Antarctica? When you visit New Zealand, you come close. Located inside the Christchurch International Airport Complex, the ‘frozen’ continent is brought to you in the most authentic way possible. Experience a taste of this unique, breath-taking continent while understanding the impact it has on the globe and the impact humans have on the continent, its wildlife and plant system. After all that, it’s time for some fun…with icy slides, a ‘polar plunge’ ice water challenge, a cave and the impact of an actual Antarctic storm. There’s an all-terrain amphibious Hagglund ride you don’t want to miss and then there’s a simulated Antarctic cruise, complete with 4D Extreme Theatre, that will recreate the continent! Also, for the animal lovers, here’s your chance to get up, close and personal with husky dogs and 26 little blue penguins!
Let’s begin with Queenstown – the fact that it’s known as the Adventure Capital of the world, should tell you what to expect. People have been known to jump off bridges, conquer shallow rivers with spinning jet boats and explore the towering mountains, while here. There’s something about this place, and the most thrilling testimony of this is Skyline Queenstown. A bouquet of thrilling rides awaits you at this theme park, but begin with The Gondola – New Zealand’s version of a cable car, one that takes you 450 metres to the top of Bob’s Peak where you can catch the most vivid views. Once there, choose to take a ride on the world-famous Luge – a zip-paced downhill experience filled with twists and turns. And when you feel you want to catch a breath, check into the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar for some lip-smacking Māori and international cuisine, or journey into the hidden world of the Southern night sky with Skyline’s guided Stargazing experience.
Feeling your adrenaline pumping already? Just get out there and be prepared to have the time of your lives.