The school holidays have come around faster than we can fathom this year. For parents everywhere, it feels like the school year has just begun and as the summer days begin to dwindle, we are once again left to find ways to entertain our small humans. It’s always nice to head off to the beach or down to the lake before the weather completely cools off, but holidays spent in the city shouldn’t be overlooked either. If you can’t get away from work, or you’ve decided to spend the downtime at home instead, there are plenty of school holiday activities in Auckland to stave off boredom and keep the whole family entertained for the next two weeks.
Discover a real T. Rex, and the last days of an international exhibition at Auckland Museum
Fancy a face-to-face with the scariest reptile on earth? The latest addition to Auckland Museum is exactly that — bones and all. Eleven metres long, nearly three metres high and displayed in its hunting position, this is one of a small number of almost complete fossil Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons in the world and the first real T. Rex fossil ever to be exhibited in New Zealand, and to add to the excitement, late last year Peter had his girlfriend move in too — the slightly more petite, Barbara. If you’ve not had the chance to witness the duo up close yet, you’ll be delighted to know their stay has been extended indefinitely, and they set the ton for an always exciting and educational visit to the museum itself. Here, Secrets of Stonehenge enters its final weeks too, an enlightening exhibition you should be sure not to miss.
Take the whole family to Auckland Fish Market
Taking up residence at one of the City’s most impressive vantage points, Auckland Fish Market is an often unsung hero of our gastronomy industry, playing host to a whole raft of casual, seafood-informed eateries. This Easter weekend, especially, will see festivities turned up a notch with a weekend of live music, balloons and face-painting on both Saturday and Sunday. The latter will also see Easter eggs offered with all kids meals across the market. Easy and delicious entertainment for all.
Start shredding early at Young Guns Skate School
Employing the talents of some of New Zealand’s best skateboarders, Young Guns Skate School is a great option for teaching kids the essentials of skating in a fun, safe environment. Encouraging ideals of respect and perseverance in mini Tony Hawks of all levels, classes are suitable for children aged 4 to 15 and if the school holiday programme really piques your little one’s interest, classes also run during the term.
Visit the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki offers a range of activities via its Creative Learning Centre, designed to keep the whole family engaged. Or, if you’re after something more immersive, the Gallery’s dedicated School Holiday Programme promises to get the kids up close with a variety of art practices and themes. With classes running daily from 9am until 3pm, children are taught new skills and encouraged to experiment and create their own unique works of art.
Embark on an equestrian adventure
With the sun finally shining, we thought it fitting of the forecast to discover some outdoor activities to complement a busy school holiday agenda; and for children, little compares to mastering the equestrian arts. While offering fun treks and adventures for the whole family, esteemed local academies, Bartley Riding Academy and Muriwai Beach Horse Treks both offer sought-after school holiday programmes, with a jam-packed itinerary sure to tire out the wee ones.
Road trip to the Sculptureum
If an escape from the city is needed, head north to Matakana’s Sculptureum for an artistic and culinary experience. Offering six spacious indoor art galleries and three outdoor sculpture gardens, as well as exceptional food options (including widely-lauded restaurant Rothko) and a number of opportunities for littlies to get up-close with the animals that reside on the property (think birds, turtles, rabbits, pigs and more) there really is something for everyone here. Our advice? Plan your day trip and book tickets here in advance.
Become a farmer for a day at MOTAT
MOTAT is always a great place to take the kids over the school holidays, thanks to the fact that it always has some kind of interesting, immersive programme running. This year, MOTAT’s Easter school holiday experience is called Farming Takes Flight, which lets imaginations soar as kids uncover the stories and technology behind farming, flight and the innovative spirit of our country.
Spend a night at the theatre with Wicked The Musical
The in-season production of this most-loved musical features an all-New Zealand cast, boasting the esteemed Tina Cross, a beloved talent in Kiwi music circles, in the role of Madame Morrible. The show promises to capitate audiences of all ages and backgrounds (meaning it’s more than enjoyable for parents, too), transporting them to a world of unparalleled enchantment. Now showing daily at SkyCity, we’d suggest booking your tickets here before it is too late.
Watch The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch at Takapuna’s PumpHouse Theatre
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, a beloved New Zealand stage adventure based on the children’s books by Ronda and David Armitage, is set to return to Auckland for a regional tour through until the 6th of May. The show features an operating lighthouse, a seaworthy vessel and a thrilling rescue at sea that will captivate and engage with young audiences. With songs by Christine White and adaptation by Tim Bray, the show promises to be a fun-filled adventure that will have parents and children alike singing and joining in the fun. As theatre critics have already touted, this is a must-see show for all ages. Book your tickets here.
Discover inflatable obstacle course Megaland
Truly an out-of-this-world adventure, Megaland is the country’s first inflatable obstacle course. Everyone is welcome — children aged eight and under need parental supervision. Open rain or shine, don’t forget to pack your socks for the 300-meter-long extravaganza that features 43 obstacles, six different slides, a tunnel of spikes and a giant ball-pit. This is one mega experience that will guarantee a good night’s sleep. You can find all the necessary details here.
Make tracks to the revived Easter Show
After a three-year, pandemic-related hiatus, these holidays finally see the welcome return of the City’s iconic Easter Show. Taking over the Auckland Showgrounds for the upcoming long weekend, we’ve been told to expect all the usual favourites — petting zoos, extreme sports shows, market stalls, gaming zones, delicious foods, and of course, the beloved carnival rides. You’ll need to purchase tickets to attend (which can be done on the website here), but entry is free for children under five.
Head out to a family-friendly festival on Waiheke Island
Embarking on a day trip to the islands surrounding Auckland has been made even more enticing, especially when lured in by the excitement of the returning Waiheke Jazz Festival. Over Easter weekend, at some of the Island’s most famed destinations, local jazz talents (some with great notoriety) will helm a smorgasbord of music-focussed events, some of which make ideal entertainment for the entire family. You can find out more details about each event and their respective venues on the website here (which is also incidentally the best place to score tickets), but we’d suggest any seafaring families make a stop for a concert or two. If you’re planning on staying a while, consult our definitive dining guide for the isle of wine.
Meet the latest arrivals at Auckland Zoo
In the heart of the city lives an abundance of animals, which have come from all different continents and climates in the name of conservation. The newest additions to Auckland Zoo, are two gorgeous young Sumatran tigers, arriving earlier this year from America as part of an international breeding and advocacy programme for this critically endangered big cat. Of course, the zoo itself also has a burgeoning holiday agenda sure to entertain kids of all ages (and more than likely adults too), to celebrate it’s 100th birthday milestone.
Explore SkyCity’s seemingly endless entertainment
Conveniently found in the heart of the City, this iconic destination can amuse children for days on end. Aside from the obvious and iconic Sky Tower, Wētā Workshop Unleashed and the All Blacks Experience are two immersive showcases that allow visitors to get an intimate look at some of our country’s greatest talents. And when you’re in need of another refreshment, one of SkyCity’s inimitable restaurants always satiate the cravings.
Discover your local roaming circus troupe
The Circus in the Park 2023 extravaganza is well underway, and it beckons with its promise of playful learning and endless entertainment. The Circability team has outdone themselves, inviting all to participate in the time-honoured tradition of circus performance, from juggling to hula hooping, acrobatics, ribbons and spinning plates. These holidays, you’ll find the circus at Myers Park on sporadically throughout the holidays (more details here), and regardless of age or ability, everyone is welcome to join in on the fun. What makes this so great is that Circability is not merely a collection of activities, but a philosophy and a mission. At the core of their work is a steadfast focus on developing inclusive programs for individuals with disabilities while simultaneously expanding creative career employment opportunities for all.
Embrace an inner green thumb with EcoFest
Sporting what might quite possibly be the most packed programme we’ve seen in some time, this year’s EcoFest is an Auckland-wide event that sees an abundance of workshops, programmes and activities grace the calendar, with the intention of celebrating our unique environment, and imparting skills that will help to improve it. From fun film screenings to terrarium building workshops, and family bike rides and picnics, and even a food truck festival or two, to say that there is something for everyone is far from an overstatement.