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Monday, June 4, 2012

Butterfly Creek - A Review

I like to make a point of reviewing the places I visit... Provided the venture didn't wear me out to the point where I'm almost writing in my sleep.

This day had a certain soporific effect on me. Not because it was stressful or physically unforgiving, but mostly because it was fun and pleasingly satisfying...

I mean, what can be more fulfilling than willingly putting yourself in a situation where a butterfly tries to rip off your face by the lips? Ok, I can think of a few things but thankfully that's not exactly what happened but if you're even a tad lepidopterophobic I wouldn't suggest a visit to Auckland's Butterfly Creek!

I took my family to this abnormal attraction to celebrate my oldest child's metamorphoses into three-year-oldom where we began our butterfly-safari by paying the not so unreasonable fee of $49 (NZ) for 2 adults and 2 children (I should probably mention under 2's are free so we brought a friend along to make the most of the offer), the staff were pleasant even though I don't remember them... It's weird but looking back on the day I don't seem to recall any of the staff at all, except for the crocodile handler, it's hard to forget a lady whose holding a crocodile like a cuddly toy for your children to pat! But I guess because of it's likeness to a zoo, it's more like a park and the staff blend into the background because you aren't really there for them anyway...

Once braving the jungle of the gift shop, which caused trouble later when long after we grown ups had deleted the various and expensive junky toys from our memories, the kids still clung to the hope of acquiring some of it's treasures... I hate gift shops... But we made it through to the first attraction, a quaint fresh water aquarium with some oddly shaped fish most of us had never seen before.

The kids loved it.

Except there was a skeleton (plastic) lying on the bottom of one tank which was small enough to resemble the remains of a child who didn't listen to his parents, and ended up as fish food. At least that's what I said out loud because the thing creeped me out. The children hardly noticed it though and my kids at least are too young to even know what a skeleton is...

Who cares about skeletons though, the fish were cool, but not as cool as what was on the other side of the double doors at the end of the aquarium - the butterfly enclosure.

It's like a green house kept at tropical temperatures where even bananas hung from trees which, if you're a local is an amazing site to see. I could have easily paid just to see bananas in their natural habitat. But anyway, there in that junglesque environment butterflies rule the airways and turtles rule the water features. The kids are mostly free to roam but don't take your eyes off them because if they were eager enough they could break past the barrier to swim with the turtles...

At one point I discovered a butterfly burial ground and plucked a stiff winged friend from the ground behind the rails, for the benefit of young inquisitive minds of course. I fed it to the turtles.

The place is such that you could easily sit there for hours and soak up the ambiance of nature, except being winter you haven't dressed for the tropics, you're suffocating in the thick humidity and so you take about as much as you can stand before escaping to the next bit - the crocodiles.

The crocodiles are big and fearsome and safe behind bars, but if you're the sort to want to get up close and personal, they have two croc encounters per day where the croc lady comes out with one of their juveniles for petting in the butterfly enclosure. It's a kind of surreal moment being calmed by the pleasant flapping of silent furry and colorful wings while being confronted by the child of a man eating lizard.

The lunch area is vast and there's a playground for the kids featuring a Fred Flintstone automobile made of wood and some climbing thingies with some slides as well as a trampoline. A great place to have a break from the kids... Oh I mean a great place to supervise your kids.

Our family pass included the interactive farm area where for 50 cents you can obtain a bag of feed for the goats, sheep, pigs and donkeys and chooks, and film your children's little fingers being miraculously missed by those nibbley teeth. There are some very tame rabbits too in the barn. I even saw the fattest rabbit I had ever seen. It was even bigger than my tabby and looked the type to bring a dead cat to your door after a night of serious hunting. But seriously though these rabbits either love children or are getting paid an awful lot of carrots to put up with the endless cuddles and grabs from little firm fingers...

By now four hours has flown by and I'm beat. But the children are bouncing off the walls from the over stimulation of this little slice of nature.

I have nothing bad to say about the place, except that their web site was clumsy... But then who cares about that? As long as the kIds are happy!

If you're sick of doing the same old thing with the kids and want to immerse them in a truly interactive nature experience of tropical and rural proportions then Butterfly Creek is the place to feed their hungry little brains!

In the mean time here's some video footage of me getting up close and hypercondrial with some of nature's more subtle carnivorous herbivores...

And a few pics as well...

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