We first went to Butterfly Creek at the end of last year as a belated birthday treat for our big boy at the time. I had just finished my Doctoral thesis and Smushie was not even one yet (or walking). Arjun recently asked to go again on a Sunday morning – in a “please mummy and daddy….pleeaaaase” kind of way….we could hardly so ‘no’ and with now two very active and on-the-move toddlers, activities that enable them to run around freely are always a winner!
Our two animal loving children ran around all the animal exhibits with such glee. Smushie was actually doing this little dance which was just adorable (we managed to capture a bit of it on video!). There is a tropical butterfly house, lizards, tuatara’s, bugs, monkeys birds and more! There are also two huge salt water crocodiles, Scar and Goldie, which I believe are the only ones here in New Zealand (‘snap snap’).
Nestled within Butterfly Creek is Buttermilk Farm. It is a really interactive farm experience with goats, pigs, sheep, alpacas, bunny rabbits and more. There are feeding bags which you can buy for a couple of dollars and can go around hand feeding the friendly animals. The boys were also able to sit and pat some of the smaller animals – there was even a baby lamb there.
Let’s be honest the real reason that we, ah Arjun, loves Butterfly Creek is for it’s Dinosaur Kingdom. It was like it was made for our dinosaur-mad toddler. Smushie is still a little unsure at times of those giant prehistorical creatures but Arjun’s overflowing enthusiasm is infectious; even for us weary parents. And he doesn’t hold back with his roaring either. “But roaring outside is ok right mummy?” (#mumofboys).
Free Outdoor Space
Space without too many boundaries is so important for children. There is a lot of supporting research behind the benefits of unstructured play for their cognitive and risk management development. I recently took the boys to the beach on my own and felt like I was Mrs Unbelievable, with the really stretchy arms trying, to keep them both within some sort of reasonable distance and not going deep in the was – even then they both still ended up without clothes on and in the shallows! At Butterfly Creek there is plenty of space for the boys to run around and explore but if I was on my own I would feel that I could do this and possibly even be able to gulp down a coffee (maybe!).
Everything is purpose built with families in mind. You have everything you need here and plenty of shade for hot summers days. You can bring your own snack boxes (recipe inspiration over on the blog here) but for those days that you just need to escape the house there is some great healthy choices at the cafe too, oh and coffee of course!. There is also a trainride around the whole grounds and I am pretty sure it is actually to give us tired parents a rest for a few minutes! Arjun was bouncing up and down of course but Smushie was also not so sure; think it was his first time on one actually!
We now have annual passes to all the big attractions. I did not think we would need these but having options of places to go on the weekend is so helpful. We also find this helps our weekly budgeting as once you have gone four times, the ticket has paid for itself. We would not have known how great these places are for children or visited them for the first time without the recommendation from some good friends, I hope that I can pass this on!
With Christmas around the corner – let’s not count up how many weeks just yet this would make a great mas pressie for the family! Butterflies, monkeys, lizards, big salt water crocodiles, Buttermilk Farm and most importantly the dinosaur kingdom – what more could our boys want?!
Thank you Butterfly Creek!
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale (and my own little monkeys)