Cool and hot in Auckland

You might have heard that you can visit New Zealand's beautiful beaches and hit the slopes, all in the same day.

And in Auckland, you don't even need to leave the city. As well as urban beaches - such as Mission Bay, Kohimarama, Takapuna and Milford - Auckland has Snow Planet for super-cool fun.

For a memorable wildlife experience, catch a ferry to beautiful Tiritiri Matangi. The whole island is twitching with birdlife.

Fun on the Auckland waterfront

It's hard to think of a more delightful way to spend a sunny day in Auckland than strolling along the breezy esplanade on the CBD waterfront. Wynyard Quarter, at the recently developed western end, has oodles to offer, including dining options and a cool drawbridge the kids will marvel over. Nearby is Silo Park, which has a brilliant playground. Mums and dads can enjoy a bit of downtime while kids go crazy over the fun installations. Beneath the Wind Tree sculpture, there's a huge splashing pool for the kids.

Just 10 minutes east from the city is Mission Bay, Auckland's most beloved urban beach. From late spring to late autumn, this is a gorgeous spot for a swim, followed by fish and chips or pizza. There's a substantial playground, as well as magnificent art deco fountain that lights up at night.

Animal attractions

Elephants cooling themselves in the water, spider monkeys swinging between branches, cartoonish meerkats poking their heads up to say hello. You can see them all at Auckland Zoo, home to 138 species and more than 875 animals, including New Zealand's most famous bird. Creep quietly into the Kiwi House and you'll spot several fine examples of New Zealand's national bird. If you're lucky, you might even see the zoo's Asian elephants, Burma and Anjalee, going for a walk around the grounds with their keepers.

For a totally different kind of wildlife experience, visit Tiritiri Matangi Island. ‘Tiri', as this island is known, is a conservation success story. The island has been cleared of predators and planted with more than three million native trees. It's home to many endangered birds, including kiwis and the extremely rare takahē. There are regular ferry services to Tiritiri Matangi Island from Auckland and Gulf Harbour.

Cool runnings

Snowplanet has to be the coolest activity in Auckland. The indoor snow resort has a 200 metre long slope, making for a great day sliding down the artificial mountain on skis, snowboards, tubes or toboggans.

If you're a newbie, or you're introducing the little ones to snow for the first time, you can stick to the beginner's area or take a professional lesson.

Given that it's all in a contained area, it's a safe way to learn or to refine your technique. There's no need to trudge up the slope either - you just take the ski line and slip and slide back down all over again.

More advanced skiers and boarders can hit the terrain park to try out the jumps and rails. When you get hungry, take a time out in the alpine-themed restaurant and bar. Snow Planet is only a 20-minute drive from Auckland's CBD.