Visiting the local zoo is a nice chance to not only see some cool exotic animals, but also see lots of native animals and birds that you may not see in the wild of the country you've chosen to visit. Additionally you may get to know their history and their role in the (local) environment. Auckland Zoo is only a 15 minute bus ride out of the city center, which costs about $6 return.
The Zoo itself is set out in a really nice layout and even though the carpark was full when we arrived and we expected crowds and crowds of people, there was a nice number of people there and you were still able to spend time viewing all the animals at a leisurely pace without having to wait for people to move on so that you could get a quick glimpse of something.
Make sure to have your camera fully charged and ready to go as well, these animals are quick to trick you!
Auckland Zoo is a pleasant surprise, in terms of the enclosures and the range of animals they have. The animals do have a lot of space, so you don't feel bad them being in captivity. Keeping the map handed out at the entrance definitely makes sense in order to make sure you don't miss any of the enclosures!
The Zoo is divided into different climatic and geographic zones, meaning that first of all you enter the Pridelands, home of the zebras, ostriches, lions, springboks, rhinos and giraffes. Last ones just gave birth to a cute little calf called Zuri.
Walking along seeing the elephants and numerous different kinds of monkeys swinging from branch to branch you can find the part with all the birds.
In a small house, which is pretending to be night during daytime, you can find the rare, and really famous, kiwi bird - if you are lucky! It is quite tricky to find them in all the plants and in the dark.
Crossing a nice little meadow with a lovely pavillion in the middle we had the chance to experience standing next to an elephant - and nothing in between!
They do take out their elephants for regular walks in order to keep them fit, feed them, and give you the unique chance to take a selfie! It was amazing watching how these animals interact with their keepers and how well they listen and obey what they are saying. They really do understand humans talking and their body language.
"Some of the monkeys were clearly just showing off..."
The primate enclosures at Auckland Zoo were probably my favourite because in each one there were heaps of platforms, ropes and toys for them to play with and swing like tarzan! It was like a Hilton Hotel for the monkey world!
It made me happy to see just how well kept everything was for these amazing creatures. Some of the monkeys were clearly just showing off to the people watching and others, like the orangutans, looked like they'd just eaten a hearty Sunday lunch and were chilling out and having an after dinner nap. A close second to the primate enclosures was the viewing area for the sea-lions. They were so graceful and a lot larger than you think they will be.
At certain times (you can find them on your map) they have really nice encounters with different enclosures. We were lucky and got the chance to see the tigers getting out of their stall and explore their enclosure, which the staff before had prepared with new fragrances and food to keep them busy and using their senses. The Zoo staff tell you interesting stories about the animals while you are watching them - I really enjoyed that!
Another tip is to try out the meerkat tunnels and domes - hard on the knees but very funny and a great way to see the incredible meerkat at eye-level.
There are also some really nice shaded areas and cafes if you want to relax and enjoy some lunch. Even if you bring along your own packed lunch, you may find some cheeky birds trying to make best friends with you! Auckland Zoo also offers several playgrounds for kids and a kidzone, in case all the awesome animals are too boring ;)
All in all a visit to Auckland Zoo is a really nice way to spend the afternoon and marvel at some amazing animals and well worth the entrance fee (which is very reasonable at $28, correct at time of publication).
One area I didn't see on my visit was Te Wao Nui, which showcases and recreates the natural, unique habitats and environment in New Zealand, but friends who have been said it was amazing, so make sure you visit that part of the zoo too.
Expect to spend a good few hours here at Auckland Zoo, pack some sunscreen, take your camera and maybe even a picnic.