Are you in Auckland and are finding yourself bit stumped on what to do? Have you got a free day with friends but no plans? Take my advice, have some fun! Head to New Zealand's premier theme park, Rainbows End. As a Kiwi, Rainbow's End is somewhere that myself and a lot of people I know grew up with. Back when I was young I can remember the television ads would appear as I sat down for dinner showing this majestic theme park lead by their cult figure mascots 'Rai' n 'Bow'.
You know if you get the chance to go to Rainbows End you can count yourself really lucky! Every kid couldn't wait till the school holidays for the hope mum and dad may fill up the car, put on the day trip boots and hat to spend a day in pure bliss at Rainbows End. Not only for kids but if there are a group of you looking for a lot of areas to adventure seek, this is a great place to come!
Rainbows End is literally a 30 minute hop, skip and a jump down the southern motorway from central Auckland to the city of Manukau. It is directly opposite the Manukau Shopping Mall which is where the big bus station is if that is your mode of transport (which makes the bus stop practically on the doorstep of Rainbows End!). 10 years on since I was amazed by these ads, Rainbows End is still going strong. I have been lucky enough to just visit there this past weekend on a day of sun and rain, we had a day to remember.
"Every time I have been on this ride I have been happy to be alive..."
The thing I love about Rainbows End is the high adrenaline rides, my favourite being the power surge (and I will always have a space in my heart for the scary ending of the gentle and exciting log flume!). Scared yet? The Power Surge is a belt like mechanism that is connected to a massive beam which when at full potential has you swinging from side to side, vertical to horizontal and so on. At times on this ride in the past I have been flung straight up towards the heavens only for my seat to be rotated towards the ground and at full speed plummet towards the ground before being swooped to the left. It really is not for the faint of heart. You must keep reminding yourself that you will make it out of the seat alive! Every time I have been on this ride I have felt happy to be alive, and mainly overwhelmed with a feeling of this is living, before I get back in queue. It's also really good because unlike most theme parks around the world, you're not waiting just to get on the attraction all day. School holidays are most likely going to be the busiest times of year to go here and you can expect to wait around 30 minutes to get on some of the most popular rides, on a typical day you can generally walk right on!
After the Power Surge, you gotta try the Fearfall. The fearfall is the vertigo extreme where you are lifted up a massive tower on a belt around the outside so high you can see back to the motorway and out to parts of Auckland. The props they use at Rainbows End are amazing and as you find yourself being risen high up into the air you look down to see a leg and an arm on the roof of the control building (giving you the impression that someone has just fallen). Being at the top of the tower is an awesome experience as you are still there for about half a minute before you are free falling back to earth. That is the best part about being at the top, you know the drop is coming, you know its not far away, but you don't know when. Oh the anticipation! When you actually do drop - All of your organs feel like they are being lifted up and dropped inside of you! You free fall back to earth within ten seconds, and the ride is over (up and down in a few minutes) and then it is completely up to you whether or not you will choose to get back in the line for round 2!
A new attraction has opened at Rainbows End called 'The Invader'. It is a massive disk around 15 metres high, this ride spins you like a carousel - only so fast that it sends g-force sensations tingling through your body. You are going up and down a roller coaster like track and you kind of look and feel like you are getting rag dolled (dragged around and around carelessly!). Right next to "The Invader" is the famous rollercoaster, a name everyone is familiar with! The scariest part of the rollercoaster I think is the big loop that you have to be put upside down on right at the beginning of the ride. You want to be careful no wallets or cell phones are present on this ride!
If you're a bit faint hearted and prefer a rides that will give you a bit of a thrill but not to over the top, Rainbows End has you covered as well. There are the classic rides such as the logflume (where you can get your picture taken along the journey), bumper Boats, Family Karts, Mini Golf and Castle Land- specifically for the young ones (and the young at heart). There are also show times at the main stage showcasing magic tricks, acrobatics and amazing performances. You can check the show times on the board right next to the stage.
There are also several eateries along the well designed park and toilet stops in easy to reach locations. If you're driving there is a safe car park at the entrance of the park and you can go in and out as much as you want over the day as long as you have your ticket/pass-out. You can expect to pay anywhere between $10-$30 for professional photos from each ride, otherwise if its safe enough, take your own! When you first arrive you will be handed a wrist band to get you onto rides and a park map so you won't get lost! Unless you enjoy getting lost, go ahead :-)
All the times I've been to Rainbows End I've had an amazing time. There is something here for everyone no matter what the weather. I really like getting there when I have a day off during the week and just going crazy on all my favourite rides, more than once of course! The staff are extremely friendly, always happy to point you in the right direction and are safety-driven. I have never had a bad experience at Rainbows End, and highly recommend it to anyone traveling through Auckland or looking to do something for a day. As the theme song states "Meet me on the other side, at Rainbows End!"