Auckland Zoo

Today June 21st is World Giraffe Day – an initiative set up by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.  So today I headed along to the Auckland Zoo.

World Giraffe Day at Auckland Zoo

World Giraffe Day at Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo is a 16 hectare (40 acre) zoo located in Western Springs. The Zoo first opened in 1922 and has been running strong ever since. The Zoo is open seven days from 9:30am to 5pm (1 May – 31 August). From the months of September to the end of April the Zoo is open until 5:30pm. Last admission is at 4:15pm.

Adults are $25, children (4 – 14 years) $10, students/senior citizens $20. There are family pass options available as well. Prices are due to go up 1 July. See their website for more details.

Prior to arriving at the Zoo I walked through Western Springs Lakeside Park.

0002

0003

Western Springs Lakeside Park

The Zoo is divided up into different themed sections, that include Pridelands, ASB Elephant Clearing, Hippo River, Te Wao Nui, Orangutan Trial, KidZone, The Tropics, Aussie Walkabout and Tiger Territory.

I started at Pridelands, since it was the Giraffe’s day and that is where they reside. Also in the Pridelands were Zebra, Springbok, Ostrich, Rhinoceros, and Lions.

0009

During World Giraffe Day at the Zoo visitors could see how they measured up against a 4 month old Giraffe.

0014

Lions, Auckland Zoo

Lions, Auckland Zoo

Throughout the day there were several scheduled animal encounters where keepers explained a little bit more about the zoo’s animals. I went to animal encounters for Giraffe, Elephant, Orangutan, Tasmanian devil and Tiger.

0019

Burma during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo

Burma during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo

0031

Tiger during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo

Tiger during Animal Encounter, Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo is located on the city centre fringe, and is a perfect day out for families and animal lovers young at heart.

 

Auckland Zoo

Motions Road, Westerns Springs

9:30am – 5:00pm (1 May – 31 August)

9:30am – 5:30pm (1 September – 30 April)

Orakei Basin Walkway

I would often look out the window as the Eastern line train travelled along past the Orakei Basin and I see people walking along a boardwalk. Since that boardwalk was built in 2010 I have been meaning to walk it – and finally this morning I did.

View of Orakei Basin boardway from train

View of Orakei Basin boardwalk from the train

I took the train from Britomart Transport Centre to Meadowbank Train Station. It is less than 10 mins on the train to reach Meadowbank, the second stop on the Eastern Line.

Meadowbank train station

Meadowbank train station

From Meadowbank train station I walked to the end of Purewa Road to where the boardwalk begins.

0003

I began the Orakei Basin walk at the Purewa Road entrance

I began the Orakei Basin walk at the Purewa Road entrance

The boardwalk runs parallel to the railway line, and two trains rattled past as I walked along the 650-metre boardwalk.

0006

Orakei Basin walkway

Orakei Basin walkway

At the end of the boardwalk I took a left and followed the path up a slight hill. There were steps leading down and a signpost to Orakei Basin Boat Ramp. I took the steps down and walked through the bush for a few minutes before coming out by the Orakei Sea Scout den.

I take the steps down to track to the Orakei Boat Ramp

I took the steps down a track to the Orakei Basin Boat Ramp

Orakei Sea Scout Den

Orakei Sea Scout Den

I then followed the road from the Orakei Sea Scout Den down to the Orakei Basin Boat Ramp. At the end of the boat ramp car park is a path that follows the water’s edge around the basin.

Road down to Orakei Basin boat ramp

Road down to Orakei Basin boat ramp

Orakei Boat Ramp

Orakei Boat Ramp

Path at end of Orakei Basin Boat Ramp car park

Path at end of Orakei Basin Boat Ramp car park

The path around Orakei Basin passes some of Auckland’s most expensive houses. At the Auckland Water Ski Club I took some steep steps up to Lucerne Road and crossed the road to the Lucerne Road entrance.

Orakei Basin from Orakei Water Ski Club

View of Orakei Basin from Orakei Water Ski Club

View from steep stairs leading up to Lacerne Road

View looking back from the steps leading up to Lucerne Rd

From the Lucerne Road entrance I walked down through the bush to the Orakei Creek bridge. I crossed the bridge and followed the track back around to my starting point.

Bridge across Orakei Creek

Bridge across Orakei Creek

Orakei Creek

Orakei Creek Bridge

Back to my starting point

Back to my starting point

It took me 1 hour 15 minutes to walk the 2.9 km walkway as I often stopped to take photos. Reading comments online it seems most people complete this walk at a leisurely pace in 45 minutes to an hour.

Rather than walk back to Meadowbank train station I walked back along the boardwalk a second time. I definitely enjoyed walking the boardwalk more the second time as I was able to look back across the water to see where I had just walked.

0039

0040

Looking across the water to where I had walked – Orakei Creek Bridge and Orakei Water Ski Club

At the end of the boardwalk I took the path to the right, which goes around to Orakei Train Station, where I caught the train back into the city.

It took me four years to finally get around to doing this walk and I am so glad I did it. If you are in Auckland and haven’t down this walk yet please don’t leave it as long as I did 🙂

Click here to see a map of the Orakei Basin Walkway

Queen’s Birthday Weekend

This past weekend was Queen’s Birthday Weekend. Queen’s Birthday is a selected day on which the monarch of the Commonwealth’s birthday is celebrated. In New Zealand it is the first Monday in June. This date is not the actual monarch’s birthday, current monarch Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday is 21 April.

Queen’s Birthday is one of ten nationwide public (statutory holidays) in New Zealand. The other nine statutory holidays are New Year’s Day, the day after New Year’s Day, Waitangi Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, ANZAC Day, Labour Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Students and many workers will be given the day off school or work giving them a three day weekend.

Anyone who works on a public holiday by law must be at a minimum paid time-and-a-half and given an alternative holiday (known as a day in lieu). Some cafes and restaurants have implemented a public holiday surcharge to cover the costs of employing staff on that day. In the last few years many cafes and restaurants have begun displaying signs advertising no surcharges in an attempt to be competitive and attract more business. Some businesses will not charge a surcharge but will not offer specials on public holidays. It pays to look for displayed signage or ask when looking for somewhere to eat on a public holiday.

During long weekends there are usually several events on. This past Queen’s Birthday Weekend Waterfront Auckland hosted a free community event ‘The Best of British’ at Queens Wharf celebrating all things British.

The Cloud is transformed into space with all things British

The Cloud is transformed into space with all things British

The Cloud was lined with several stalls selling British products including food and art. Upstairs there was an British High Tea.

For motor car enthusiasts there were up to 40 British vehicles on display including classic and brand car including new Bentley, Mini and Aston Martin.

1978 Mini Rebuild (Rover Cooper Sports pack)

1978 Mini Rebuild (Rover Cooper Sports pack)

1971 Austin Clubman and  1979 Austin Clubman GT.

1971 Austin Clubman and 1979 Austin Clubman GT.

Visitors could also take a ride on a traditional London red double decker bus.

Red double decker bus

Red double decker bus

Those wishing to get involved were able to join in games of badminton, croquet, lawn bowls and table tennis. There was also face painting and a children’s activity workshop.

Under 20 Scotland team play croquet

Under 20 Scotland team play croquet

There was also live entertainment with Highland Pipers and Dancers, Morris dancers, Maypole dancers, Pipe band, an Irish and Scottish folk band, and a traditional marionette puppet show.

Highland dancers

Highland dancers

'Twisty Willow', Celtic band - Irish and Scottish folk music

‘Twisty Willow’, Celtic band – Irish and Scottish folk music

 

SKYCITY

SKYCITY Auckland is a casino, entertainment and events centre located at the base of the Sky Tower, on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets.

Sky Tower

Sky Tower

As well as the Sky Tower, the SKYCITY complex includes two hotels, eight dedicated bars, fourteen restaurants, a casino, a 700 seat theatre, and a convention centre. Also on the Hobson Street side is a bus terminal where Intercity and Great Sights tour buses arrive and depart. This is where I met my friend Tash who had come up from Hamilton on the bus for Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

After checking in at her hotel, Rendezvous Grand Hotel, we had a 1:30pm lunch reservation at Fortuna Buffet Restaurant at SKYCITY.

Fortuna offers:

  • breakfast daily from 6:30am – 10am (adults $22.90, children 4-9 years $9.90, 10-14 years $12.90)
  • lunch Monday to Friday from 12pm – 2:30pm (adults $22.90, children 4-9 years $9.90, 10-14 years $12.90), Saturday to Sunday from 11:30am – 2:30pm (adults $24.90, children 4-9 years $10.90, 10-14 years $13.90)
  • dinner Sunday to Thursday from 5:30pm – 9:30pm (adults $22.90, children 4-9 years $12.90, 10-14 years $15.90), Friday to Saturday from 5:30pm – late (adults $34.90, children 4-9 years $14.90, 10-14 years $19.90

The buffet lunch included two options of soup with a wide selection of breads, cold salad and seafood bar, a carvery station with a selection of hot meats with ham, beef and chicken options.

Tea and coffee was included in the price. For an additional $5 each we purchased a large Coca-Cola glass with unlimited refills.

I like my desserts so I’m usually a pretty tough judge when it comes to dessert bars and unfortunately Fortuna’s selection did not live up to my expectations.

But overall the price is good value for what you get. You have an hour and half from arrival to dine.

After lunch we went up the Sky Tower. At 328 metres tall, it is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand. Construction began in 1994 and it officially opened on August 3rd 1997. The Sky Tower also operates as a telecommunication tower providing television and radio transmission frequencies.

The Sky Tower is open 365 days of the year, weather permitting. From May to September it is open daily from 9am to 10pm. From October to April it is open 8:30am to 10:30pm Sunday to Thursday, and 8:30am to 11:30pm Friday and Saturday. Last tickets are sold 30 minutes prior to closing.

Single Entry is $28 adult, child (6-14 years) $11. There are also annual passes available. Admission includes entry to 186 metre Main Observation Level, 182 metre Sky Lounge cafe and bar, and 220 metre Sky Deck.

The Main Observation Level and the Sky Deck offer views up to 80 kilometres in every direction.

0005

0007

The Sky Tower offers views up to 80 kms in every direction

The Sky Tower offers views up to 80 kms in every direction

The Main Observation Level has glass floor panels, which you can stand on. Not to worry the glass 38mm thick and is strong as the concrete floor.

Glass floor panels are 38mm thick

Glass floor panels are 38mm thick

On the Sky Deck you can lean back on the glass windows.

For an extra $2 you can upgrade for multiple visits in one day but I recommend visiting just before sunset so you get both sun and night.

Sun sets on Auckland City

Sun sets on Auckland City

Auckland City at night

Auckland City at night

At 190 metres, between the Main Observation Deck and Sky Deck is Orbit – New Zealand’s only 360-degree revolving restaurant. They offer lunch (11:30am – 2:15pm, Monday to Friday; 11am to 2:30pm Saturday & Sunday), Dinner (Daily 5:30pm – 4:30pm) and a High Tea on weekends (2:30pm to 4:30pm).

Orbit diners also receive complimentary entry to the Sky Tower 45 minutes prior to/and or after dining. They require a minimum spend of $30 per person for lunch and $40 per person for dinner.

I have been to Orbit twice, once for a joint birthday celebration for my 21st and my sister’s 15th, and again last year for my dad’s 60th.

At Orbit restaurant celebrating 21st and sister's 15th

Flashback: At Orbit restaurant celebrating 21st and sister’s 15th

After visiting the Main Observation Level and Sky Deck, Tash and I went down to the Sky Lounge cafe and bar and finished the evening with a beverage looking out over the city.

Hot chocolate at the Sky Lounge

Hot chocolate in the Sky Lounge