This is a hidden gem (pardon the pun) in the Waitakere area of West Auckland that should be in your list of must-do-activities during school holidays.
It has several parts the little ones can explore.
- Crystal Mine Museum – This is accessible by elevator from the store area. It takes you into the heart of Crystal Mountain where you’ll see New Zealand’s biggest collection of rare crystal from mines around the world. There are several minerals, meteorites and fossils, too. Some specimens in the museum weigh about 1000 kg and others are more than 2 meters tall.
- Animal Park – Feed animals, have a pony ride or enjoy the exciting Speedy Gonzales Roller Coaster or Travis the Tractor.
- Dinosaur Gully – The park has several large dinosaur displays that are great for taking pictures. Some of them actually move. You’ll find a T-rex, a brachiosaurus, a triceratops and a stegosaurus in the gully.
It’s best to manage your expectations though when you go here. The place is old (it was opened in 2000, so 17 years ago), but it still offers a unique attraction for the family. I would recommend going there on a sunny day. Rainy days mean mud and closure of some rides. The Crystal Mine is really what makes it worth the visit. Because my daughter is at that age where anything shiny is considered jewelry, it was a fun trip for us. This is also a great place to visit for older kids who have an interest in geology. They can start out with activities such as panning for crystals or engage in sensory learning with the crystal and mineral display in the mine.
If you’re looking for a place to eat, they also have a decent café with good food at a friendly price.
Crystal Mountain is located at 80 Candia Road in Swanson. Ticket prices vary depending on what you want to do. A visitor pass of $15 includes park entry, the Crystal Mt Express Train, Crystal Mine museum entry, the dinosaur gully and a bag of animal food.