Happy Place Exhibit – Spark arena Auckland

I could cry over Happy Place, it makes me so sad.. That it’s over! 

For one month and one month only, the Happy Place exhibit was alive and well at Spark Arena in Auckland. An interactive, multi-sensory exhibit, designed to be “the most Instagram-able place in the world”. We had the pleasure of visiting near the end of its time and I must say, I expected it to just be a photo-op for the gram, but this was definitely a highlight for a night out! Family-friendly for all ages, lots of fun in real life, no need to fake it for your photos! 

When you first walk in, you’re greeted by the beautiful neon “Auckland is Happy” display and handed mini gummy bears to unlock your inner child. From there the doors open, you blink a few times as you enter, trying to figure out if you just stepped into a real-life Pixar movie- full of beautiful colours and textures all around you. 

I never thought I would slide out of a giant gumball machine in my adult life, so I did it a second and third time to wake up the inner child in me for what was next…

Do you remember being a kid and wanting to throw confetti, sparkles, or anything else that you could get your hands on into the air? Then either being told no or forced to pick up each individual piece after, which isn’t as fun as the short-lived explosion in the air? Well, now you can relive that dream in the multiple confetti exhibits throughout the event. And guess what? No clean-up is necessary! Throw all that your heart desires. The first exhibit is on a sparking stage and makes me dream about if I was ever voted prom queen (not a common tradition in Canada), while the second confetti exhibit is inside an igloo (okay, it was a dome, that’s just the Canadian in me) filled with fans to help you throw the confetti into the air. 

A row of mini rooms to strike a pose in are lined up consisting of white chains hanging to swim through, another with mirrored tiles that look like you’ve stepped inside a disco ball, and a room full of yellow rubber ducky friends of course paired with a big bathtub to play in. There’s also a unicorn exhibit for all your fantasy world dreams and of course an exhibit dedicated to being happy- to showcase your best smile. 

One thing I’ve never understood about these photo exhibits are the infamous “upside-down” rooms you’ll see in photos. I’ve never really understood the point, and honestly still didn’t get it even once there, until the nice staff member explained to me you have to rotate the photo after on your phone – duh! I think these photos are always a fan favorite as how often do you get to pretend you’re climbing around on the ceiling like spiderman? Another great room was the cookie room, a certain blue monster’s dream! Play peekaboo inside the giant cookie or practice your ABCs. 

Of course, I had to save the best for last.. The giant ball pit! I can’t remember the last time I giggled this much, we really need to normalize adult-sized ball pits- make them everywhere! We ran and did our best cannonballs into the rainbow pit then tried to worm our way out after. I now remember why we spent so much time in ball pits as kids: because we were stuck in them. My partner thought the best way out would be to swim through, so under he dived, popping his head out like a gopher every now and then. Even the staff couldn’t help but have a laugh with us. We did this one quite a few times and took full advantage of bringing out our inner child with cannonball contests and trying to get our best poses for photos while still in the air. 

Although Happy Place has been closed for quite a while now, it’s something we still reflect on and love sharing the photos from the event. I hope it comes back again as I always have people ask where it is when I post my photos online. If you ever have a chance to go to a Happy Place exhibit, as they seem to pop up around the world, run- don’t walk! Grab your favorite outfit (make sure it’s jump and wind room proof) and your pals to make some great memories, oh yeah, don’t forget your camera too!

Mount Maunganui Base Track Walk

Mount Maunganui is located in Tauranga and can be hiked to the top of, or walked around the base of the mount if you’re looking for an easier walk. We took our time as we were admiring the beautiful coastal views around every corner and took advantage of all the scenic benches along the track. It took about 45 mins to do, but we saw lots of people running or power walking their way around, so it can definitely be done in less if you’re crunched for time. Perfect for families as it is stroller (aka “pram”) friendly, just keep an eye on your little ones as it is a steep drop off the pathway and some areas of the track can be a little narrow if it is busy. Bring a picnic and enjoy the view at the end if you’d like, or head to the shops after for a nice lunch along the beach; the mount is a great place to go if you’re looking for just a quick walk to get you moving and close to town so you can continue on with your day after.