A must see place to the west of Auckland, New Zealand, is the gorgeous Bethells Beach. Its pristine black, fine sand is a pleasure to walk on a stunning to see!

It is a pleasant drive of approximately an hour from Auckland’s CBD. Bethells is situated on the West Coast of NZ at the mouth of the Waitakere River. As you stand on the shimmering black beach you are looking out into the refreshing Tasman Sea. The sight alone is truly invigorating and peaceful at the same time.

Keep in mind that the waters surrounding Bethells Beach are very treacherous and are best to avoid unless you enjoy surfing. Even then be sure to have a friend with you at all times to assist if you find yourself in trouble.

There are many places that you can walk along the beach, around the dunes and over the surrounding hills.

O’Neills Bay is just a short walk over one of the small sand dunes and offers stunning views. This would also be a perfect spot for a quite, peaceful picnic with the family or that special person in your life.

If you bring the kids with you then you can join others and bring a couple of kites to fly. The wide open sandy beach provides a perfect location for flying kites that soar up high into the sky with the refreshing sea winds. The prevailing westerly winds assist in keeping the kites up and taking them high up into the crisp sea sky.

Many people come to enjoy physical activity and surf or parasail, while others just enjoy the feeling of refreshing that comes from the fresh sea air and the beautiful surroundings.


Free public beach that is open to all visitors.


North of Piha on West Coast
At the Mouth of the Waitakere River
West of Auckland
New Zealand

Bethells Beach Location Map:

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Popular Activities:

Many thousands of visitors flock to this pristine area on New Zealand’s west coast each year. With many different activities and pastimes to occupy everyone from the youngest to the oldest visitor.

Some of the popular things to do at Bethells Beach include:

  • Surfing
  • Fishing – be careful of any rogue waves when fishing from the rocks! Many fisherman have lost their lives due to the treacherous waters. So take extra care!
  • Flying kites
  • Parasailing
  • Hang Gliding
  • Walking on the beach
  • Bushwalking – boardwalks provided in some areas
  • Picnics with family and friends
  • Sunbathing
  • Swimming – but be aware that the waters are dangerous and so swimming is not advised.
  • Skimboarding – has recently become popular with some of the younger visitors.
  • Relaxing
  • Reading that long awaited book you have sitting next to your bed!
  • Viewing Gorgeous Sunrises over the rocky and sandy beach



The Te Puia Thermal Reserve can be found in New Zealand’s thermally active region of Rotorua. If you enjoy seeing and experiencing the thrill of bubbling mud, pressurized steam and shooting geysers then this is certainly one place that you need to visit on your next holiday in New Zealand’s North Island.

Te Puia Guided Tour:

One of the best ways to enjoy all that Te Puia thermal springs has to offer is to take advantage of the free guided tour that is included with your entry ticket. This way you not only get to see everything in the park, but you also get a local’s perspective on the Te Puia thermal park and the history and culture of the region and the maori people.

Check out the Maori men working in the school of carving. You may even be fortunate, as we were, to hear them singing some local Maori songs as they happily did their individual wood carvings.

The school of weaving displays a wide variety of items that the Maori women weave from local materials. It is interesting to see how they bring out the different colours and create so many useful and decorative items.

Depending on the ticket that you purchase you may also have access to see the live Maori Experience, which includes a show along with audience interaction. Here you will learn about the local Maori culture and history, while you also enjoy an entertaining live show.

Te Puia Thermal Reserve Prices (at October 2012):

Adult Child (5-15 years) Family Pass
Te Puia Daytime Experience $46.00 $23.00 $124.20
Te Puia Daytime Experience Combo $57.40 $28.70 $155.00
Te Puia Cultural Performance Experience $46.00 $23.00 $124.20
Te Po Indigenous Evening Experience $110.00 $55.00 $297.00
Te Po Indigenous Evening Experience Combo $145.00 $72.50 $391.50






With the family pass above you can have up to 2 adults and between 2 to 4 children aged between 5 and 15 years. So this is great value if you are coming with your family!

NOTE: Another great way to get discount entry into Te Puia Rotorua is to buy a special Rotorua 5 Star Pass combination ticket through Rotorua Super Passes. Find out more by checking out our blog post on this service.

Times of Operation:

Summer: 8am – 6pm (last tour begins around 5pm)
Winter: 8am – 5pm (last tour begins around 4pm)


Te Puia,
Hemo Rd,
New Zealand

Te Puia Map:

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Aerial View:

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Te Puia Thermal Reserve Facilities:

  • Free off street parking
  • Wheel chair access
  • Souvenir shop
  • Restrooms
  • Tourist Information

Lots more to see in Rotorua and New Zealand!

Rotorua Super PassRotorua in New Zealand’s North Island is a unique location with many different things to do and places to visit. The prices of each of these different local attractions can quickly add up, so what is the solution? If you are after the best deal and the cheapest way to see many of Rotorua’s local sights then why not purchase one of various Rotorua Super Passes for you and your family?

There are passes available to suit a variety of budgets and travel tastes. You can enjoy the best that this gorgeous part of New Zealand has to offer without breaking the bank. You also save money as the passes are less expensive than the normal combined cost of the individual attractions.

Rotorua Location:

One of the best ways to get to Rotorua is by car. The trip by road will take you around 2.5 hours from New Zealand’s capital, Auckland. Once there you will then be able to use the car to visit the many fun attractions.

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Rotorua Five Star Pass:

One of the popular options with families and those on a tight travel budget is the 5-Star Pass. This super pass allows entry into 3 fun and interesting local tourist attractions. These include:

Rotorua Skyline Gondola at NightSkyline Gondola – Jump into the gondola, which holds up to 8 people, and enjoy the breathtaking view as you travel higher up the mountain. You will see the spectacular 180-degree panoramic views, which include the lake, Rotorua township and the hills that surround the region. Check out the live webcam view here.

Te Puia – Here you will learn all about local, Maori culture and also get up nice and close to the bubbling mud and vibrant thermal activity. You many also choose to pay a little extra so that you can enjoy the live Maori cultural show on site.

Polynesian Spa – Spend some time relaxing and rejuvenating in the naturally warm thermal waters at the spa pools. If you have kids with you then you can enjoy the family fool and 2 separate spa pools. If you only have adults in your group then you can go into the adult only section and enjoy a wider range of pools of varying temperatures and water types.

Other pass options include:

  • Rotorua Diamond Pass
  • Legends of Rotorua Pass
  • Rotorua Escapade Pass
  • Rotorua Fab Foursome Pass
  • Rotorua Land and Lake Pass
  • Rotorua Superpass
  • Rotorua Treasure Chest Pass
  • Rotorua Trilogy Pass
  • Rotorua Triple Treat Pass
  • Tarawera Legacy Pass


The prices vary depending on the specific pass that you purchase, but prices range from approximately $80 to $235 per person.

Each of the options above will give you many hours of fun, excitement, relaxation and education. You will be sure to create many happy memories of your holiday in Rotorua that you can carry with you into the future.

Drive Yourself?

You also have the option with some of the passes to drive yourself or to have transport included in the cost. If you prefer just to sit back and be driven to the various attractions then you may want to look at this option.

The individual components of each pass can be used of different days so that you can enjoy one attraction each day or multiple attractions within the same day. The choice is entirely up to you!

So before you arrive for your next vacation be sure to check out all of the available Rotorua Super Pass options so that you can select the one that best suits you and your family or friends.

Happy travels through Rotorua and New Zealand!

The first attraction that we visited on our recent trip from Australia to New Zealand was to the Auckland Zoo. We took along a group of 8 family members from ages 8 up to 74 and each of us had a fantastic day. The weather was perfect (even in July!) and we were able to cover approximately 80% of the zoo grounds during the 6 hours that we spent in the park.

A lot has changed at the Auckland Zoo since the early years when local business people were encouraged to find and bring back wildlife when the travelled abroad on overseas trips! But one thing has remained the same and this is that families still enjoy a fun day out at the zoo watching the various animals, birds and reptiles.

Very interesting information is available on many of the zoo’s wildlife on the Auckland Zoo website.

An unexpected event that we witnessed was the rescue of six young ducklings that had become trapped in the stream and separated from their mum who had no idea what to do! You can watch the video below to see the rescue unfold!

6 Ducklings get rescued by Auckland Zoo staff


During the day we saw exotic wildlife such as Asian elephants, giraffes, zebras and African lions. We also wondered through the Aussie Walk About enclosure and saw the emus, colorful peacocks, wallabies, kangaroos, parrots and lorikeets. Of course, we also visited the Kiwi enclosure and saw the endangered Kiwi digging away in the soil.

Prices (as at September 2012)

Adult $22
Child (4-14 Years Inclusive) $11
Child (Under 4 Years) Free
Pensioner (with ID) $18
Student (with ID) $18
Family pass 1 (1 adult, 2 children) $40
Family pass 2 (2 adults, 2 children) $60
Additional children (added to either family pass) $9 per child








Friends of the Zoo membership

If you like to visit the Auckland Zoo regularly then why not consider purchasing an annual pass with the Friends of the Zoo membership? This also gives you added benefits and discounts for you and any friends or family you may bring along with you to the zoo.

Times of Operation of Auckland Zoo:

Winter (1 May to 31 August):
9.30am – 5pm

Summer (1 September to 30 April): 9.30am to 5.30pm

Christmas Day: Closed

Last entry into zoo is 4.15pm daily.

**** Click to Download a Map of the Auckland Zoo ****

Address of Auckland Zoo:

Motions Road
Western Springs
Auckland 1022, New Zealand

Information Phone: +64 9 360 3805

Video of our Family Day at Auckland Zoo

Location Map of Auckland Zoo:

View Larger Map


Free off-street parking is available onsite with additional parking just down the street across the tram track.

Wheelchair Access?

Around 90% of the zoo can be accessed by a wheelchair and about 70% by those in a mobility scooter. This means that families or groups with members in mobility devices can still come and enjoy a fun day out with family and friends.

There are also a number of wheelchairs and Mobility scooters that are available for hire. It is advisable to book prior to your visit to ensure that one is held for you on the day. A bond may be payable on the day of your visit, but this will be refunded when you return the mobility vehicle.

Interesting Facts:

  • Free off street parking
  • Located on 17 hectares
  • Biggest array of Exotic and Native animals in New Zealand
  • Close to Central Auckland
  • Open 364 days a year

History of the Zoo:

  • Opened in February 1911 in Onehunga, Auckland
  • Moved to Western Springs location on 17 December 1922
  • 1923 Jamuna the elephant arrived
  • 1925 a leopard escaped from the zoo
  • 1949 Kiwi were finally allowed to be displayed
  • 25 November 1956 saw the first ‘chimpanzee tea party’ performed to the delight of visitors
  • 1981 the animal hospital opened at the zoo
  • 1996 saw the opening of the Rainforest
  • Three Sumatran tiger cubs were born in 2008
  • 200 North Island brown kiwi chicks were successfully reared and released in 2010
  • Te Wao Nui opened on 11 September 2011

Different Ways to Enjoy the Zoo:

  • Behind the scenes Zoom Tours available
  • Safari Nights are held regularly
  • Junior Keeper programme allows kids aged 6 to 13 years to be a zoo keeper for a day
  • Photography workshops on the zoo grounds – Beginners, Intermediate or Young people
  • Guided walks offered for a small additional fee
  • Consider booking your Special Function at the Zoo
  • Kid Zone allows children to get up close to small animals and enjoy the playground
  • Adopt an Animal program allows you to contribute towards a specific animal and to support wildlife conservation
  • Join the other volunteers and become a zoo ambassador

Fun Family Day at the Zoo

Everyone can have a fun day at the Auckland Zoo no matter what their age! So next time you are in Auckland be sure to stop by and check out the diverse range of animals, birds, reptiles and more!