5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Located on New Zealand's North Island, Auckland has a population of around 1.5 million. The University of Auckland was established in 1883, and the metro area is rife with arts, culture, history, and gustatorial opportunities. 

Settled by Maori around 1350, Auckland (called the City of Sails!) is located on an isthmus between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Auckland has rainforest, dormant volcanoes, and maritime heritage galore. 

What does this mean for educators? This town is packed with educational opportunities! 

5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Here are 5 of the best:


With both a service kitchen and R&D kitchen, an educational visit to renowned ice cream innovator Giapo is An Event. Doing the Kitchen Tour here will be remembered forever.

Innovation here is not just on flavours. Giapo is changing how people experience ice cream and thats what fascinate me the most.

Innovation and Ingenuity

During the Kitchen Tour, Giapo demonstrate the use of 3D printing and homemade vacuum forming to create chocolate mouldings to bring their creations to life. During this educational tour, Giapo utilises unusual processes to create delicious, unique ice cream masterpieces...and the famous colossal squid ice cream is one of them.

Giapo's Colossal Squid Ice Cream. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Science Class

Perhaps one of the most interesting things to do is schedule an educational kitchen tour here, especially for kids who have a passion for innovation, science, and ingenuity - and ice cream, of course!

Delicious science experiments include:

HOKEY POKEY: The chemical reaction of baking soda to ingredients is a sure way to see bubbles! And, have a real taste of Kiwiana.

LIQUID NITROGEN: Explore the properties of Liquid Nitrogen - and how it can be used in ice cream making.

Maori Culture

During the tour, you will try the traditional Maori fried bread. Called Paraoa Parai and here served with ice cream, it's a delicious cultural experience.

Pop Culture

Think hot chips in a cone, which is a creation that you have see to believe. During the tour, the host explains the innovation and the technology applied to create this dish, which is outstanding. Think of holes drilled on the cone to get the steam escape, and hot chips cooked in a special way.

Hot chips in a cone ice cream at Giapo. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators


Giapo’s kitchen tour encourages people to leave behind expectations - which can be constrained - and open their minds to new possibilities.

Changing the function of ice cream is what these people are about. The kitchen tour is a refreshingly immersive and interactive experience, as are guided through the evolution of Giapo in the past 11 years. This tour, complemented by a tasting of all the remarkable things that the team giapo has achieved during the years, is a wonderful thing to do - especially with kids!

Turtle ice cream at Giapo. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Photos: Giapo

Auckland War Memorial Museum

This museum is more than its military moniker - truly, this is a museum about the city of Auckland. New Zealand's very first museum, founded in 1852, now exhibits countless objects about New Zealand and its people - and offers a unique glimpse into cultural traditions, heritage, and history.


There are many events scheduled, so be sure to check the calendar. You can search by Maori, family, natural science, and history events on the website. Of particular interest are Maori cultural performances, which can teach much about local culture and history.

Maori performance at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators


He Taonga Maori - treasures (tonga) from the Maori court
Te Ao Turoa - Maori Natural History Gallery, and knowledge of the natural world
Origins - of this unique and ancient land
Pou Kanohi: New Zealand at War - capturing the history of NZ and WWII (see in conjunction with World War One Hall of Memories)

Weird & Wonderful Discovery Centre

Visit the Weird & Wonderful gallery, a hands-on space for discovering the wonders of the natural world.  Climb into the Nest, look through microscops, view dioramas, hold a real bone (and more) at the collection wall, and explore the world through interactive discovery stations. Adventure through the gallery on a scavenger hunt with the Weird & Wonderful Discovery Trail, and explore digital interactives with Creature Cutouts and Quiver.

Educational Programs

In line with NZ curricula, the museum's school programmes offer opportunities for early childhood through year 13. Learn more here.

There are also opportunities for self-guided visits, as well as self-guided or staff-led exploration of the museum's research library and Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre. Of particular interest are the online collections - you can prepare yourself and your class before your visit. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Photos: © Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

This underwater classroom is So. Much. Fun. Visitors can visit Stingray Bay (giant stingrays and elephant sharks are featured), play in Shipwreck Shores, take an Antarctic Ice Adventure (penguins!), see thousands of fish in the Shark and Shipwreck Discovery Tanks, and marvel at Seahorse Kingdom.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators


With daily feeds and talks available, visitors should plan their time here wisely. Peruse a map to see where you want to go, and plan your walkabout accordingly.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Adventure Options

Shark Cage: snorkel in a shark cage, fully immersed in the predator tank. Here, you will see a variety of sharks close up, including School, Wobbegong, Sand Tiger, and Broadnose Sevengills. 

Penguin Passport: head right in to the world's largest Antarctic Penguin colony! Here, you'll get up close with King and Gentoo penguins, learn from a Penguin Keeper, and hopefully stay sure-footed on the ice.

Educational Programs

There are many educational resources for your visit to the aquarium, for kids from under 5 to age 11.

One of my favorite parts of this aquarium is the exhibit on Scott’s Hut. The website shares this history: "Scott Base was erected in 1911 by the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1913 (also known as the Terra Nova Expedition) led by Robert Falcon Scott. In selecting a base of operations for the 1910-1913 Expedition, Scott rejected the notion of re-occupying the hut he had built by McMurdo Sound during the Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904. It is rectangular, 50 feet (15 m) long and 25 feet (7.6 m) wide. Insulation was provided by seaweed sewn into a quilt, placed between double-planked inner and outer walls. The roof was a sandwich of three layers of plank and 2 layers of rubber ply enclosing more quilted seaweed. Lighting was provided by acetylene gas, and heating came from the kitchen and a supplementary stove using coal as fuel."

Scott's Hut Exhibit at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators


According to the website, Kelly Tarlton is renowned for diving, archaeology, conservation and the building of Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium out of unused sewage tanks. He worked throughout his career to design the innovative marine Aquarium that was four times larger than any other in the world. At 47 years old, and after working 18-hour days to realize his vision, he died only 7 weeks after the Aquarium's opening.

Kelly Tarlton received a posthumus induction into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame on 7th Nov 2012. He was recognized for his innovative approach to marine conservation, exemplified in the namesake marine aquarium he created, which has provided an educational platform for New Zealander’s and international tourists for 33 years.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Photos: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

New Zealand Maritime Museum

Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa

Where else would a maritime museum be, than on the waterfront? This museum shares stories of the maritime heritage of the island, as well as offering sailing opportunities on heritage ships.

New Zealand Maritime Museum. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators


With 5 galleries, visitors can learn much about the area's maritime history!

Explore Landfalls, to learn about voyaging and waterways; New Beginnings, to explore the past through the stories and experiences of early immigrants; Blue Water Black Magic, to see a tribute to Sir Peter Blake and his yachting success; Edmiston Gallery, to view maritime art; and Kiwis and the Coast, to understand the bond between the ocean and Kiwi cultural identity.

New Zealand Maritime Museum. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Educational Programs

From early childhood to higher education, there are a slew of interesting educational programs for schools, including immigration and identity, ocean roads, explorers and adventurers, science, heroes, water safety, shipwrecks, and more. There are also self-led tours available.

New Zealand Maritime Museum. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators


Prepare before your visit by exploring the museum's online collection - it's a vast treasure trove! 
The museum also offers online learning resources on Pacific Voyaging, the Environment, Science, and NZ History; the blog shares stories that will reel you in. 

New Zealand Maritime Museum. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Photos: New Zealand Maritime Museum

Auckland Zoo

The Auckland Zoo is an animal sanctuary that is almost 100 years old! Founded in 1922, the zoo has over 875 animals, representing 138 species.

The exhibition areas of the zoo include Pridelands and African Savannah, Elephant Clearing, Aussie Walkabout, Hippo River, Orangutan Trail, Rainforest, Tropics, KidZone, Sealion and Penguin Shores, Te Wao Hui (featuring 6 New Zealand environments), and Tiger Territory. 


There is a large variety of exhibitions - check the website for current information. Currently, visitors can explore the Bug Lab, an interactive science exhibit developed by the Te Papa Museum in conjunction with the Weta Workshop. The exhibit asks: "Every bug has a secret, and your goal is to discover it. Precision flight, mind control, swarm intelligence... bugs did it all first, and they’re still doing it better. What would the future look like if humans could match their brilliance?" 

Bug Lab at the Auckland Zoo. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Keeper Talks

Every day, zoo keepers present free talks on a range of animals, from the Asian elephant to the Sumatran tiger, tortoises to reptiles, and birds to otters.

Auckland Zoo. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Vet Hospital

Visitors can learn much from the vet hospital - including checkups, routine procedures, lab work, and animal research. Visit the hospital during zoo hours to explore the medical aspects of animal conservation.

Educational Visits

If you want an enhanced educational experience, educators can set up additional education sessions to supplement a school trip. These range from early childhood education through higher education. If you prefer to design your own educational visit to the zoo, there are also self-guided options for both teachers and parents. Learn more here.

Auckland Zoo. From 5 Things to Do in Auckland for Educators

Photos: Auckland Zoo