Think of New Zealand holidays and chances are that images of snow-capped mountains, bubbling volcanic lakes and mud pools, beautiful beaches and compelling cities such as Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch will spring to mind. Since the South and North islands that comprise New Zealand are virtually vast, natural and exciting adventure playgrounds in their own right it’s a surprise that the country has any need for theme parks at all. That said – who can resist the thrill of a decent theme park when they’re on holiday? Here are New Zealand’s top ten theme parks.
- Rainbow’s End, Manukau, Auckland Home to New Zealand’s only corkscrew rollercoaster, Rainbow’s End near Auckland promises family fun thanks to a collection of white-knuckle rides as well as a log flume, pirate ship, go-karts, dodgems and stacks more attractions. Live entertainment shows and plenty of places to eat mean you can easily while away a day here.
- Agroventures Adventure Park, Rotorua
It may only boast five ‘attractions’, but Agroventures rides really are thrilling; not to mention unique. Here you’ll find the world’s only people-powered monorail system, ride in New Zealand’s fastest speedboat (at 100km per hour) and defy gravity and fly in the country’s only vertical wind tunnel. Plus there’s a 43-metre bungee jump and the truly heart-stopping ‘Swoop’ super-swing.
- Spookers, Auckland
Despite promising family fun, Spookers might be a bit much for the kids. New Zealand’s self-proclaimed “No. 1 haunted attraction scream park” offers thrills of a different kind as ‘victims’ squeeze through the pitch black tunnels of ‘Claustrophobia’, are driven insane in the disorienting 3D maze known as ‘Disturbia’ and try to avoid the horrors that lurk in Spookers’ Haunted House.
- Splash Planet, Hastings Everybody loves a waterpark and Splash Planet has a superb range of rides and attractions (both wet and dry) which includes several monster water-slides, bumper boats, an adventure-filled pirate fortress, mini-golf, beach volleyball and loads more. When it’s time to eat the park has a selection of restaurants or, if you prefer, you can bring your own picnic or hire a barbecue.
- Puzzling World, Wanaka
If head-scratching curiosities and conundrums are your thing; Puzzle World is the theme park for you. For more than four decades the park’s crazily-designed buildings have bewildered guests with optical illusions, forced perspective tricks, a giant maze, and a hall of 3D holograms where nothing is quite what it seems. Even the park’s café is packed with puzzling amusements to enjoy when you stop for a bite to eat.
- AE Fun Park, Whangarei
The theme here is outdoor adventure; primarily a paintball park, AE Fun Park is the only place where you can drive your own paintballing tank! It also boasts the longest treeline zip-wire – the Flying Fox – on North Island and hosts many more outdoor activities including archery, clay-pigeon shooting, laser tag, pitch and putt and target shooting.
- The Waterworks, Coromandel
The perfect place on a hot summer’s day, the theme here is water, and visitors are more than likely to get wet, but the Waterworks isn’t your conventional waterpark. Instead it’s a collection of seventy crazy inventions and attractions which feature the use of water in some way; here you can ride bikes which have been converted into giant water pistols, fire water cannons by jumping on them, have mini-boat races or simply marvel at the park’s enormous water-powered clock and musical box.
- Sheep World, Warkworth
Don’t laugh – Sheep World is actually a fascinating day out that interactively and entertainingly traces the journey of wool from sheep to sweater. A large farm in a beautiful setting, Sheep World’s attractions include an eco-discovery walking trail, a mini-farm filled with all kinds of animals including alpacas, emus, possums, goats, ponies, deer and donkeys, a natural adventure playground for the kids, a shop and a café.
- Action World, Auckland
They’re not kidding with that name; at Action World there’s a whole heap of inflatables to bounce yourself dizzy on, plus you can try your hand at free-climbing, high-wire walking, bungee-running and a host of other dare-devil activities including – for the truly brave or foolhardy – a harness-free trapeze (don’t worry; it’s still perfectly safe).
- Shantytown Heritage Park, Paroa
Opened in 1971, Shantytown is both fun and educational and is a full-scale recreation of a pioneer gold mining town from the 1900s. Here you can ride a vintage steam train, explore various locations in the town such as the sawmill, blacksmith, fire station and livery stables, enjoy an exciting hologram theatre show and even pan for gold! There’s also an adventure playground for younger children and the opportunity to walk in the nearby rainforest.