Auckland Zoological Park, Auckland
Auckland Zoo may not be particularly vast on a world scale, nor does it have the diverse range of animals of some world zoos, but it is one of my favourite ways to spend a day. The gardens are really pleasant to wander around and the enclosures are continually being upgraded to standards on a par with the world's best zoos.
In February 2003, I saw the new sealion enclosure for the first time. Wow. You can watch the seals from underwater and the experience is amazing. Classical music plays, the sealions glide past upside down with their eyes shut, looking like they're in a state of bliss and the whole thing is strangely quite soothing. On the day I visited, I didn't know who was having a better time - the sealions or us! I was transfixed and oddly detached. I had to tear myself away from watching them. If you need de-stressing, I can recommend this particular part of the zoo!
The 'Pridelands' area is modelled on allowing the visitors to see the animals in more natural surroundings. The hippo enclosure is particularly good. Take your lunch and picnic in the zoo. It is a really nice day out. Make sure you visit the Kiwi House, where you can see NZ's national icon (the rare Kiwi bird).
To get to the zoo, take the Northwestern Motorway from the city and exit at Western Springs. Turn left onto Great North Road and turn right at Motions Road which leads you to the zoo carpark.
Entry is NZ$16 per adult (as at January 2006). See my travelogue for more pictures from a visit to the zoo in Jan 2006.