Auckland Botanic Gardens
This past weekend was Auckland Anniversary weekend, which meant The Husband had the Monday off work. On a mission to experience and create as many memories of Auckland as possible before we leave, we decided to head to the Auckland Botanic Gardens to meet up with our friends Mike and Yaz and their lovely little boy Zak for a play-date.
It's been many years since we've been to this park. I'd forgotten how big and lovely the gardens are. Located in Manurewa in South Auckland, it's a bit of a drive from where we live on the North Shore, but ever so worth the effort.
The Auckland botanic gardens is 64-hectares of beautiful space, complimented by lakes and gorgeous foliage and flowers, well-maintained and well-loved, with plenty to see and do. There is also a growing collection of large scale outdoor sculpture by New Zealand artists, and several trails you can choose to follow including a kids trail which combines a scenic walk with some activities along the way.
A modern and elegant visitor's centre is located right at the entrance, where you can get maps and information on guided walks and etc. before you embark on your visit.
We decided to walk along without a map and just go wherever our hearts (or the path) leads. Our friends whom we were meeting up with were far more familiar with the park than we are and able to guide us to where we wanted to go to without any difficulty. Unsurprisingly, the only destination we really had in mind was the Children's Garden.
I was pleasantly surprised by how wide the pavements are and how easy it was to walk around. Our kids were mostly able to run free without many obstacles in their way. I'd just keep an eye out for the water features and some of the rockier paths, especially if you don't want a soaking wet child within minutes! (Or bring a change of clothes, which we didn't.)
The children really enjoyed the Potter Children's Garden, which was where we ended up spending most of the morning. Nolan would not leave the site of the water pump and wheel and stood mesmerized for a good, long while, watching the water pump out of the spinning wheel.
There were plenty of things to see, touch, learn and explore, and also plenty of benches and areas to rest, which is always a good thing in parks. We found a cosy, shaded space within the children's garden to stop and have our morning tea.
If you haven't packed a picnic, there is also a cafe located right by the entrance to the park with view out over the gardens. Another great option especially if your children are a little older, as they can play right in the courtyard outside under your watchful eye, while you enjoy a glass of wine after a lovely walk!
The flowers were beautiful and in full bloom. I wished we had more time to focus on them and actually read the little notices and study the flowers, but unfortunately my attention was fully on keeping two little boys from wandering off on their own or getting soaked in the water fountains and streams.
Nevertheless, it was lovely to be able to walk through such beauty and greenery on a cloudy Auckland morning, made all the more stress-free because the kids were so entertained and captivated by everything they saw. Yes, even gravel on a footpath. Especially gravel on a footpath.
Entrance to the park is free, which is absolutely wonderful. If we lived closer we would surely be there every other weekend. As the day wore on, the park quickly filled up with many families just out for an easy stroll, admiring the sculptures, dining at the cafe or having a picnic in the park. However, it never felt crowded, even with a double stroller, a huge nappy bag and two toddlers underfoot.
If you take a look at their website, there is also guided walks on certain days, live music and workshops organized throughout the summer months if that's your cup of tea.
We didn't walk through all the gardens as the kids were getting tired by noon. In fact, we probably only scrapped the surface of what there was to see and discover. I'm kicking myself that the thought of visiting the gardens with the kids, occurred to us only weeks before leaving Auckland, when we could have had a whole year to enjoy and discover it!
Nevertheless, we had a really good time, and the children thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of being able to run around (mostly) unrestricted. I'd definitely recommend a visit to the gardens, with or without children, the next time you find yourself sitting around at home wondering what to do!