There’s one guarantee for the winter school holidays: rain will inevitably be a feature.
So on the days when the kids can’t make the most of bush or beach, paddocks or parks, you need to get creative.
Here are some ideas for inside activities to fill some of that free time:
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Matariki is being celebrated in lots of places: in Whangarei at its Teen Breakfast Club in the library, with free snacks, and activities ranging from making origami stars to clay stingrays.
Children in Kaeo could develop kitchen skills at the Kids Cooking Classes at the Veggie Tree, where making fresh rice rolls might get them – and you – into good eating habits.
Imaginative types aged 8-12 can learn to write stories at Karori Community Centre in Wellington on July 11; or at Capital E! on Queen’s Wharf, children of any age can design their own circus programme at Cirque du Play, incorporating shadow play, mobiles and sculptures.
Dunedin kids can get slithering at the Ice Stadium; as can their Christchurch counterparts, under the Snow Globe in Cathedral Square. Aucklanders will find a covered ice rink set up in Aotea Square throughout July, with lessons and parties offered for $16, or $21 for a 90-minute session.
It could be the best $146 you ever spend, sending your older teen along to First Training Northland in Whangarei to learn CPR and find out what to do in choking, trauma and medical emergencies.
Napier Music Academy’s holiday programme offers a range of different instruments to try, songwriting and on-stage performance tips, plus busking instruction, so your kids could potentially earn back the fee.
Send your 5 to 17-year-olds along to the Computer Class at Auckland’s Westlake Boys High and they won’t just play and create games, but learn web design and how to build a PC. That could turn out to be a whole career for them.
At Waikato Museum in Hamilton, 7 to 13-year-olds can make masquerade masks, learn about Anne Frank, combine science and art and do kitchen chemistry. Meanwhile, Christchurch kids can become “Skyentists” at the Canterbury Astronomical Society’s observatory at West Melton and learn about nebulae, planets, stars and the Moon.
Beware of fire (and fun) at the Big Science Show, fresh from New York, at the Dunedin teacher” college auditorium this afternoon – lots of cool and dramatic demonstrations and discoveries. The city’s Otago Museum also has a wide variety of themed events happening during the holidays, exploring the exhibits and learning all sorts of things. And, if none of you know what photonics is and are a bit vague about nanotechnology, then take the family to Auckland’s MOTAT for their Mighty Small Mighty Bright exhibition and get hands-on with essential STEM subjects. At the very least, you’ll learn what STEM subjects are.
You’ll already likely know what’s on at the movies – do yourself a favour, and tag along when they head off to Toy Story 4 — but you won’t regret, if you’re in Auckland, making the effort to see War Horse. On at the Civic until July 14, it’s the overwhelmingly emotional, skilled and memorable story of a boy and his horse in World War I. Get in fast for tickets.
Closer to Cape Reinga, Northland’s Waipu celebrates its proud Scottish heritage in its annual wearable arts show Art’nTartan over two days: so much more than kilts.
Down south, scouts and Guides from all over Otago are putting on the Gang Show at Dunedin’s Mayfair Theatre between July 9 and 13. It’s musical comedy with a live orchestra and heaps of youthful talent and enthusiasm.
Sport more their thing? For NFL fans, the Vodafone Warriors are playing the Cronulla Sharks at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on July 19; and, at the Queenstown Ice Arena, the Skycity Stampede vs the Canterbury Red Devils is a guarantee of fast and exciting ice hockey. Or go to Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds for the CRC Speedshow: it features every sort of crazy car you can imagine –and promises plenty of noise and action.
If you’re quick, you could catch the Pop-Up Globe’s lively production of Measure for Measure in Nelson, before it moves on to Christchurch. Aucklanders can catch their special Midsummer Night’s Dream in Remuera. In Wellington? Go to the Opera House to see Room on the Broom live on stage: it features a witch on a broom, plus a cat, then a dog, a bird, a frog, a dragon… things get complicated.
At Takapuna’s Pumphouse Theatre, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt encourages its audience to dress up appropriately and parade beforehand; while older kids will appreciate The Book of Everything at Howick Little Theatre in Pakuranga. In Napier, there’s Screenies, a three-day film festival for kids at the Mercury Theatre.
Girls and boys from Years 3-10 can hone their basketball skills in Invercargill by joining the Southland Shooters’ holiday programme at the ILT Stadium — or, of course, get wet in comfort at Splash Palace.
In Waikanae, Inflatable Kingdom will enable kids aged 0-10 to expend every bit of pent-up indoor energy by bouncing on their various castles and slides, as well as playing Giant Jenga and other games. Up the road in Palmerston North, all ages can not only play board games at Te Patikitiki, but practise their speed stacking skills with cups and maybe score themselves a championship.
Dunedin children can head off to Larnach Castle on July 18 for the Teddy Bears Picnic – take along a dressed-up teddy for the fashion parade, and maybe score spot prizes for games like pass the parcel and the egg and spoon race.
Blenheim Indoor Sports has a wide variety of games under its roof for 5-12 year-olds: cricket, netball, soccer, 10-pin bowling, pickleball and more: $5 an hour, or $35 for a full day. In Hawke’s Bay, Napier’s Taradale Public Library is just one of many places offering Lego fun — bare feet not recommended.
All of this shows that you won’t be on your own, looking for school holiday activities; and also that there are plenty of them out there. Start by checking what’s on at your local library, museum and/or art gallery.