Best parks in Auckland

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With more than 4000 parks in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aucklanders are spoilt for choice. But what are the best ones to take kids to? I spoke to Aucklanders big and small to assemble this list.

01

Shakespear Regional Park Whangaparaoa

Photo of a grassy hill with a flock of sheep and lambs grazing

Shakespear Regional Park is a true Auckland gem, with a stunning tidal beach, large reserve and an open sanctuary home to one of the city’s best pest-free habitats. So it’s not surprising it was recognised as one of the best parks in the world at the 2019 International Large Urban Parks Awards.

You’ll find the park 50km north of Auckland (only a 50 minute drive if there’s no traffic), at the very end of Whangaparaoa Rd. Make a day of it, pack a picnic or book one of the BBQ tables, and make sure to take your camera to catch some wildlife in action. With a campground on site, you can even stay the night.

02

Cornwall Park Epsom

Aerial photo of Cornwall Park, a grassy hill with large pohutukawa trees scattered about

There’s so much to do and see at Cornwall Park, it would be hard to cover it all in just one day. The expansive park, which circles Maungakiekie/ One Tree Hill is home to a playground with a mini train, cafes and restaurants, off-road trails and a working farm, historical sites and ancient trees.

Play some games under a tree, share a BBQ with friends or climb to the top of the maunga for some of the best views in Auckland.

03

Tui Glen Reserve Henderson

Named for the large number of tui that fed on the original vegetation, Tui Glen Reserve is situated close to Henderson’s main centre and incorporates the Henderson Creek Path.

Renowned as once being the country’s first campground, you’ll find 10 historic buildings still on site, along with seats, a BBQ area and one of the city’s best playgrounds.

04

Waterview Reserve Waterview

This one is all about the kids. The Waterview Reserve playground has been open for five years now and in that time has become one of the most popular playgrounds in the city. That’s not surprising considering what it offers.

There are water play areas, a sand area with a mini digger, swings and slides, a learn-to-ride bike track with a roundabout, a BMX track, skateboard and scooter tracks, a basketball court and a beach volleyball court – all with the ocean just metres away.

05

Totara Park The Gardens

Just a few minutes’ drive from Manurewa and Manukau, Totara Park is a favourite spot for locals, walkers and mountain bikers. The 216-hectare park has a wide, gravel path snaking through it suitable for prams and bikes, basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas, two playgrounds and an off-leash dog area. All of this makes for an active, fun day out with the family, and you can finish it off by cooling down at the Tōtara Park Pool.

06

Royal Reserve Massey

The $4.1 million Royal Reserve Playground opened in early 2019 after workers spent 18 months converting an overgrown field into one of the city’s best parks. The play area caters for children of all ages, with one area for younger kids – with tunnels, sand play, swings and slides – and another, larger area for older kids.

There are picnic seats, BBQs, a basketball court and a learn-to-ride bike path near the playground, and a massive slide that could fit four people at once that leads from the play area down the hill to fields fit for kicking a ball around, and with accessible pathways to walk/bike and wheel around.

07

Takapuna Beach Reserve Takapuna

Photo of Takapuna Beach Reserve at sunset

With a backdrop of Rangitoto, an array of eateries close by, a movie theatre around the corner and the water lapping at your feet – it’s hard not to love Takapuna Beach Reserve. Just a couple minutes from the northern end of the Harbour Bridge, the reserve boasts a fantastic playground with a large tower, climbing nets and hamster wheel.

Grab your togs and towel, pack a picnic or visit one of the local cafes and make a day of it. For something extra special, head to the reserve on 23 January for the Takapuna Beach Summer Days Festival.

08

Ambury Regional Park Mangere Bridge

Close up photo of a lamb being petted and hand fed a bunch of grass

Ambury Regional Park is a treat for animal lovers. Take a stroll along one of the three walking tracks and check out the animals in their paddocks. There’s sheep, goats, cows, pigs, chickens and more.

The park, located on the coast in Mangere Bridge, South Auckland, is also a popular spot for bird watchers. If you’re struggling to pack it all into one day, why not stay the night? The campground has space for up to 60 people.

09

Potters Park Mt Eden

You’ll find this park on the corner of two busy roads in central Auckland, but don’t let that deter you. Potters Park is home to the city’s first ever splash pad, which along with the playground is great for all ages. There’s also a basketball court, band rotunda, learn-to-ride track and plenty of picnic sites.

10

Scandrett Regional Park Mahurangi East

The last park to make it on our list, Scandrett Regional Park, was hand-picked by Auckland Council’s acting manager regional parks, Scott De Silva.

“This small park is located on the Mahurangi Peninsular about 10 minutes past Snells Beach,” De Silva says.

“The park is quaint and hosts a number of heritage buildings. Located along the foreshore are three bookable baches that the public can rent. Don’t forget to take a walk across the park and experience views of the surrounding harbour and offshore islands.”

Written by Michelle Cooke

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