T. rex Exhibition showcasing Peter & Barbara at Auckland War Memorial Museum

Wondering what to do with the kids this weekend? Our definitive guide to the best children’s entertainment venues in Auckland

When the weekend rolls around, we are confronted once again with the question of how on Earth to keep our kids entertained — particularly over winter. So, in a bid to help you find the perfect activities to while away a weekend afternoon, with your children in tow, we have rounded up some of the best entertainment venues in Auckland; the ideal spots for little ones to exert some energy (and some you might actually enjoy, too).

Archie Brothers, Newmarket

This entertainment emporium is designed for hours of fun-filled activities with over 65 gaming machines, bumper cart lanes, a bowling alley and an American-style diner. While a bar opens in the evening for adults, during the day the bright, spinning lights of Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq is a child-friendly space for all to enjoy. Book in for the upcoming silly season, and you can soon unleash your inner child as your family gets to feel the excitement of going head-to-head in air hockey or hoops.

ArtLab, Light and Shadows at Auckland Art Gallery

As a cultural leader in New Zealand, the Auckland Art Gallery is a catalyst for ideas. Its educational programmes for children of all ages ensure they can engage each stage of the next generation of bright minds. The Creative Learning Centre and the Gallery Games, in particular, help young ones relate to the art around them.

Auckland War Memorial Museum, Parnell

The Auckland War Memorial Museum is one of New Zealand’s first Museums, telling the story of us within its impressive neo-classical columns. Broaden young minds with its innovative educational experiences, including inclusive exhibitions and activity programmes. Situated in the Domain, there are also excellent hills to roll down during a lunch break.

MOTAT, Western Springs

A great place to take the kids any day, MOTAT offers something for everyone (and kids of all ages) thanks to its rotating programme of fun and educational activities and permanent exhibits. As perfect for kids who want to see huge planes, trains and cars up close as it is for more creatively-minded kids, who would rather spend their time doing things like MOTAT’s Squish! Bang! Splat! (happening on Sunday the 3rd of September and offering a range of fun activities including water balloon fights, bottle rocket launchers, the Slime Zone, playdough station, squish art and so much more), this destination promises a day that you and your children will love.

Jump, Avondale, North Shore, Takanini

For adventurous, energetic kids, Jump is the ultimate destination. With activities that are (as the name suggests) based around each centre’s wall-to-wall trampolines, the Jump complexes offer dodgeball courts, foam pits, trapeze and monkey bars, a super tramp, a parkour area, trampoline basketball lanes, a ninja warrior course and more. Designed for hours of fun, Jump is somewhere your children will absolutely love.

Whoa! Studios, Henderson

At this world-class, multi-faceted children’s entertainment venue, children will be delighted by live theatre, film studios, extensive playgrounds, fun activities and more, while parents can find a moment of reprieve at The Grounds, a delicious eatery set within the Whoa! Studios compound. This is one for the whole family.

Left: Butterfly House at Butterfly Creek  Right: Penguins at Kelly Tarlton’s

Butterfly Creek & Rocket Ropes, Mangere

Get up close and personal with a range of beautiful animals at Butterfly Creek. Not only will you and your children get to encounter exquisite butterflies in the Tropical Butterfly House, but you will be able to also see cheeky monkeys, meerkats, and otters at the Buttermilk Farm. There, kids can also take a ride on the farm’s train while parents enjoy some refreshments in the on-site cafe.

Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, Orakei

This classic venue will likely already be on every parent’s list but just as a refresher, Kelly Tarlton’s offers just about the best opportunity in Auckland for kids to experience the wonders of the ocean, up close. From its iconic shark tunnel to its colony of sub-Arctic penguins (the only one in New Zealand), this is the perfect place to pass some time.

Tree Adventures, Woodhill Forest

Navigate your way around a range of obstacles and zip lines suspended through tree-tops at Tree Adventures, Auckland’s home of high-flying adventures. With courses and adventures catering to kids from five and older, this heart-racing course is a great option for when you want to add something completely different to the weekend agenda (and is an experience your children won’t soon forget).

Holey Moley, Viaduct Harbour

For a day of mini-golf with a twist, head to Holey Moley, a putt-putt course in Viaduct Harbour that has turned the time-honoured game into a multi-faceted, colourful labyrinth of unique holes. Promising to keep you and your playing companions on your toes, this course is the perfect excuse for some friendly competition. Plus, for parents, there is a full-service bar on site serving up delicious cocktails. Win-win, we say.

Left: Snowplanet  Right: Clip ‘N Climb

Clip ‘N Climb, Balmoral

If you have kids with energy to burn, take them for a wall-scaling session at Clip ‘N Climb. This indoor complex offers a range of climbing walls (from beginner to pro) that will challenge and thrill them, and get them well-and-truly tired out. Also a great option for kids birthday parties.

Snowplanet, Silverdale

Filled with over 8,000 square metres of real snow, Snowplanet is New Zealand’s only indoor snow park and will transport your children to another world. Offering plenty of space for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and more, as well as a restaurant in which to recharge between runs, this incredible place should be added to the agenda immediately.

Gravity Trampoline Park, Manukau & Mt Wellington

Another dedicated trampoline park, this one with over 1,000 square metres of purpose-built trampolines, Gravity will provide hours of fun and energy-burning activities. Running their standard jump sessions every hour, and with barista-made coffee on site for onlooking parents, this is another great option for a weekend activity.

Flip ‘N Fly Circus School, Eden Terrace

For kids who love to throw themselves into physical activities, the circus classes at Flip ‘N Fly are a must-do. There, they will learn circus skills including trapeze, lyra, tumbling handstands, juggling, hula hoops, manipulation skills, trampoline and much, much more. Not only is this good for developing hand-eye coordination, but it also helps kids to build on their teamwork skills and meet new friends. Beginner classes start at five years old, while more advanced classes run for children ages eight and over.

My Wonderland, Albany

At this indoor party and play centre you’ll find a range of delightfully-fun activities suitable for kids from babies to 11 years old. With slides, ball pits, tunnels, jungle gyms and more, My Wonderland has become a very popular place for birthday parties and will keep kids entertained for hours.

Magic Loft Browns Bay

Magic Loft, Avondale & Browns Bay

Another indoor play centre that has become a fast favourite, is Magic Loft, offering a wide variety of areas that include long slides, obstacle courses, ball pits, swings, see-saws, tunnels and much much more. This will keep your wee ones very thoroughly entertained (and leave them perfectly tuckered out).

VR Voom, Khyber Pass

As New Zealand’s largest Virtual Reality Entertainment Centre, VR Room allows visitors to explore fantastical worlds or embark on pulse-racing adventures via games that are geared for entertainment, adventure, learning or development. With activities designed for beginners and those with more experience in the VR world, this innovative hub provides equipment, games and content suitable for a range of levels: individual players, two-to-six multiplayer groups, and some just for kids. It also can be booked for birthday parties for anywhere between eight and 30 people.

Kiwi Vallery Farm Park, Henderson

Escape the city for a rural experience at the very charming Kiwi Valley Farm Park. There, you’ll discover a nursery shed filled with cute baby animals, a maze filled with hidden caves, horse and pony rides for kids, tractor rides right up to the farm’s top paddocks to see views of the Sky Tower, Rangitoto Island and more animals, a farm walk on which you can feed ducks, goats, chickens, donkeys, sheep and alpacas, as well as a playground, sandpit and cafe.

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