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Where the wild things are

Published: 18 December 2020

Auckland in summer is a great place to be a kid. And who better to give us the lowdown on the best places to have fun around the region than some of the young locals who live and play there.


For Arlo Miller, 9, Onepoto Path is number one in Northcote. The zip line is what earns this trail Arlo’s vote, but Onepoto offers something for the whole whānau, including a lake, picnic areas, play-ground and ‘learn to ride’ bike path.

Arlo also recommends Smiths Bush Path, an elevated boardwalk loop in Onewa Domain. “Sometimes you can see tūīs and fantails,” he says. “There are trees all around you and it’s just so cool.” Arlo’s mum, Kelly Miller, likes the Birkenhead Pool and Leisure Centre for wet-weather days out. Its climbing wall, pools and the nearby bike track can keep children entertained for the whole day.

When Ryan Sami, 13, is thinking about a day out in south Auckland, there’s one thing on his mind: football. And Jellicoe Park is his favourite place to kick a ball around with his mates. It’s home to the Manurewa Association Football Club and its nine training areas.“I like it because there’s always some fun activities happening there, like athletics or sports,” Ryan says. (Tennis, athletics and harriers clubs also operate out of Jellicoe Park.)

Ryan also likes going to the nearby Auckland Botanic Gardens with his family. There, they can enjoy walks, and large spaces to run around in or have a picnic. Dogs on a leash are permitted, but bikes, scooters, skates and skateboards are not.


Maeve Simpson, 10, and her cousin Molly Ryan, 9, both live near Cockle Bay in Howick. The local beach is Maeve’s favourite destination. “I like Cockle Bay beach because it has a playground at the end, and when the tide’s out you can go on a walk and see the boats,” she says.

Last year, Auckland Council built a 66m-long rock revetment (wall)on the western side of the beach to reduce erosion. It also upgraded the colourful waterfront playground at Eastern Beach, Molly’s favourite.

Maeve also likes walking in Somerville’s Mangemangeroa Reserve. “It’s nice because it has lots of native birds. I like the fantails best.” When the weather’s wet, Maeve and Molly both recommend the Howick Library.


New Lynn’s new Archibald Park playground (above, right) is a magnet for local kids, with its 25m flying fox, maimai-themed climbing tower, big slide, and fenced area for toddlers. Three-year-old Healani Esau is a huge fan of the swings, and also loves walking around the park watching what’s going on. Paradise Seve, 7, especially loves the slide and the flying fox.

Brian Luo, also 7, is learning to skate on the footpaths around the park. Asked if he can recommend any other activities for kids out west, Brian says the beach at Piha is his favourite.


Annabelle Chapman, 5, lives near Epsom’s Cornwall Park. She loves going for walks across the grassy parkland, seeing the animals, and getting babyccinos from the kiosk.

But her favourite farm park is in Māngere. At the sprawling Ambury Regional Park, visitors can see sheep, goats, cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and myriad species of native birds, as well as enjoying biking, walking and even camping.

“Ambury Park is my favourite because I love getting stuck in the mud,” says Annabelle. “I petted a horse and a lamb there, too.”


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