Best 20 fun things to do in the January 2020 school holidays

20 BEST fun things to do in the January school holidays 2020

Auckland for Kids' pick of 20 of the BEST fun things to do in the summer school holidays in Auckland, New Zealand

1. Take the kids for a swim this summer at one of Auckland’s outdoor pools

Find your local outdoor pool here

Aucklanders aged 16 years and under have FREE access to all council-operated pools across the region during standard operating hours too. 

Parnell Baths pool by Auckland for Kids
Auckland for Kids visits Parnell Baths

2. Take the family out for a day of FREE rides at Trillian Trust Funfest 2020

Vodafone Events Centre, 770 Great South Road, Manukau
Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 January 2020: 9:00am to 5:00pm each day
Funfest 2020 event information

The whole family can enjoy a fun day out at Trillian Trust Funfest 2020 one of Auckland’s biggest free family annual events. There will be four days of free rides, free entry, free entertainment and free parking.  Featuring crowd favourite rides The Sizzler, The Roundup, The Hurricane, The Dragon Wagon, Cup’n’Saucer, Tug’n’Boat, Kidz Train and more. Plus this year there is a giant inflatable zone with slides, bouncy castles and fun courses. You are welcome to bring in your own food and drinks too and use the tables and chairs provided.

Cost: FREE

Trillian Trust FunFest 2020
Free family rides at Funfest

3. Race the land zorb balls at the Energize holiday experience at MOTAT 

MOTAT, 805 Great North Road & Meola Road, Western Springs, Auckland
Energize Holiday Experience is on daily from 3 January to 27 January 2020 from 10am to 5pm.

There is lots to do for the kids in the summer school holiday at MOTAT.

The Energize holiday experience invites kids aged 5 to 12 years old to explore the science of energy. Kids can race the giant Land Zorbs, power the Waitakere Station Jigger, get creative in the imagination giant foam building block playground and more.

Check out the new exhibition the Machine Makers an immersive installation exploring concepts of engineering and physics.

MOTAT will be powering up their steam engines for Steam Train Rides every Sunday throughout January from 10am to 4pm. 

Plus the next MOTAT Live Day is on Sunday 19 January 2020 where the kids can experience MOTAT coming to life.

Cost: Usual MOTAT admission fees apply.

Inside a zorb sphere
Zorb ball fun at MOTAT

4. Enjoy FREE family movies and FREE music at Summer in the Square

Auckland Live Summer in the Square
Selected dates in the January school holidays
Summer in the Square

Take the family down to Aotea Square to relax on the grass terraces beside the Auckland Town Hall to enjoy the FREE family movies at Films in the Square and FREE music at Music in the Square.

In January there are lots of movies perfect for families including The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, My Neighbour Totoro, The Magical World of Margaret Mahy, The Serengeti Rules, The Lunchbox and more. Find out what films are on here.

Cost: FREE (well apart from your petrol to get there)

Summer in the Square fun
Aucklanders enjoying Summer in the Square

5. Ride the waterslides in Pukekohe

Pukekohe Showgrounds, Birch Road, Pukekohe, South Auckland
Monday 6 January to Friday 17 January 2020: 2 hour sessions starting at 10am, 12pm and 2pm each day.
Event information

Have fun on the six water slides at Pukekohe in the summer holidays. There are small slides for the littlies, big slides for the older kids and a long slide for kids and adults to enjoy. 

Cost for 2 hour passes: FREE for children aged 1 to 3 years old, Children over 4 years old are $18 and Adults are $10 each.

Wet n Wild Waterslide
Wet 'n Wild's giant water slide fun

6. Take the family for a groove at the 10 Minute Dance Party

Aotea Square, Auckland CBD
Friday 17 January to Monday 27 January 2020
Sessions are every 10 to 20 minutes between 1:30pm and 9:10pm daily.

Join in the interactive 10 minute dance party in a converted shipping container in Aotea Square’s Summer in the Square. Led by one of Melbourne’s most exciting creatives, Joseph O’Farrell (JOF) you are invited to rally your whānau to the dance floor and celebrate the universal joy of having a boogie.   The 10 minute dance parties are suitable for all ages and has strobe lighting and haze.

Cost: FREE

10 minute dance party
10 minute dance party led by Joseph O'Farrell

7. Pick your own strawberries

Take the family for a fun day out to one of the BEST places to go strawberry picking in Auckland.

Summer strawberries

8. Go on a family bike or scooter ride

There are lots of fun places to go for a family bike or scooter ride in Auckland. Pack a picnic and make this a fun family day out.  

Kids learn to ride bikes 2019

9. Checkout the Sculpture in the Gardens and enjoy a FREE family day out at the Auckland Botanic Gardens

Auckland Botanic Gardens, 102 Hill Road, The Gardens, Manurewa, Auckland
On daily until 1 March 2020
The gardens are open from 8am to 8pm and the Visitor Centre is open from 8am to 4:30pm
Event information

Read about Auckland for Kids visit to Sculpture in the Gardens here.  

Cost: FREE

Hand in the Dirt at Sculpture in the Gardens
Auckland for Kids visits Sculpture in the Gardens at the Auckland Botanic Gardens for summer 2020

10. Take part in the Kia Māia te Whai – Dare to Explore FREE holiday activities at your local Auckland Library

Local Auckland Libraries

Sign up for Auckland Libraries’ FREE summer reading programmed for children aged 5 to 13.  Kia Māia te Whai Dare to Explore is all about completing fun challenges and doing a bit of reading every day.

Choose from Amograph colouring, Scavengar hunts, movies, summer drinks, teddy bear sleepovers, book swaps, Jedi training, LEGO STEM challenges, poi workshops, making suncatchers, puppets, lolly sushi, animal eye masks and more

Find out more Events on at your local library here

Cost: FREE

Dare to Explore at Auckland Library
Children having fun at Dare to Explore at Auckland Libraries

11. Go on an Auckland Park Crawl

Auckland Playgrounds

Take the kids out for a day to visit some of Auckland’s best parks and playgrounds that they have never been to before. You could try one of the  Top 10 Auckland playgrounds or one of Auckland’s fenced playgrounds.

Cost: FREE (well apart from your petrol to get there)

Towers at Stonefield Park Playground

12. Experience white water rafting as a family at Vector Wero

Vector Wero Whitewater Park, 770 Great South Road, Manukau, South Auckland

Kids aged 8 years plus can go rafting on the Grade 1-2 Tamariki River white water course. Rafting guides will guide your family through the gentle the dips and eddies of this 200m water course. Its perfect for beginners, kids and families.  

Read about Auckland for Kids visit to Vector Wero here.

Cost: Rafting: $45 per child, $55 per adult; Wetsuit hire $10.
Park entry: FREE  so you can walk around and watch with family and friends.

Adventure birthday party at Vector Wero White water rafting
Auckland for Kids goes rafting at Vector Wero

13. Visit the new kids interactive activity All my Favourite Shapes at Auckland Art Gallery

Todd Foundation Creative Learning Center at Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland CBD
Open daily from 10am to 5pm during the January 2020 school holidays
Event info

Kids (and adults) will love making their own abstract artwork on the Gallery walls using coloured magnetic shapes. The project was created by Auckland based artist Sara Hughes.

Plus keep a look out for the stunning giant light sign A Place Beyond Belief by Nathan Coley in the Atrium before you enter the Creative Learning Centre.  Don’t forget to head up to the outdoor sculpture terrace to show your children the giant blue moa sculpture by Sorawit Songsataya too. For those of you who like Danish Design the Denmark Design exhibition is on in the January school holidays, although this is better suited to adults, children get into this exhibition for free with a paying adults. Mojo Cafe is a good place to stop for a coffee or cold drink with the kids and a snack if you want a rest. Or if you bring a packed lunch from home, head up to Albert Park next to the gallery for a shady spot to enjoy your lunch.

Entry: FREE for New Zealand residents.

Sarah Hughes All My Favourite Shapes at Auckland Art Gallery
All my favourite shapes interactive exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery

14. Test your skills at POPS Games pop-up fun park

Albany Stadium Pools Complex grass area, Albany, North Shore, Auckland
11 January to 2 February 2020: 9am to 5pm each day
Event info

Try your hand at the 50 giant games and puzzles from your childhood and some unique new ones to challenge your families minds and bodies in the January holidays. 

Cost: Children $8; Adults $10; Seniors $8; Family pass $30

pops games
POPS Games pop-up fun park

15. See The Antarctica VR Experience at Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum, The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland
Sessions are on daily in the January summer school holidays
Sessions times vary each day.
Event information

See what it is like to live in the Antarctica in a world of ice and show through the wonder of virtual reality at Auckland Museum this summer. With 360-degree camera control and stunning 4k, high resolution vision yo will explore a day in the life of the Australian Antarctic scientists.  This is recommended for children 6 years plus and you are best to book for your preferred session. 

Price: Children $10; Adults $14; Concession $12; Family pass $44.

VR Antarctic Experience at Auckland Museum
The Antarctica VR Experience at Auckland Museum

16. Explore one of Auckland’s stunning parks this summer

Auckland Parks and Gardens

Take the family for a free day out to visit one of Auckland’s best gardens and parks that they have never been to before.  Pack a picnic so the kids don’t go hungry. If you visit one of the Regional Parks like Duder Regional Park in Clevedon (pictured below) there won’t be any shops close by. Remember to pack some sunscreen and water too for those hot summers days.

Lots of the Regional Parks border the ocean so pack your togs for a swim, and some of the regional parks have good surfing like Te Ārai Regional Park where you can learn to surf or bring your own board.

Cost: FREE (well apart from your petrol or public transport fares to get there)

Duder Regional Park

17. Take a tour of the Chelsea Sugar factory

Chelsea Sugar Factory, Birkenhead, North Shore, Auckland
Tours run from 10am to 4pm for one hour on Mondays and Fridays.
Chelsea Sugar Factor tours recommence after the Christmas Break on Monday 4 January 2020 

Visit the Chelsea Sugar Factory, put on your bright pink hard hat and vest and take a tour of the working sugar factory floor,. Then board the Chelsea Bay Train to travel around the rest of the site and see the giant sugar mountain.  Kids will learn how raw sugar becomes the finished product you buy in the supermarket. Tour bookings are recommended. 

After the tour you can visit the free interactive zone to play a virtual baking game or relax in the cafe while watching the kids play on the playground.

Chelsea Sugar Factor cost: Children $12.50; Adults $25; Students $20; Seniors $20; Family (2 adults + 2 children) $65.

18. Visit the Butterfly House at Butterfly Creek

Butterfly Creek, 10 Tom Pearce Drive, Auckland Airport, South Auckland
Open every day in the January 2020 school holidays from 9:30am to 5pm

Admire the colourful butterflies in one of the largest tropical butterfly houses in New Zealand at Butterfly Creek.  Make sure to check the timetable before you go, so you don’t miss seeing the release of the newly hatched butterflies when you visit. Plus in the holidays the kids can have fun watching eight different animal encounters ranging from Eel feeding to Tarantulas encounters. 

Child holding a butterfly at Butterfly Creek

19. See The Children’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Pop-Up Globe Theatre’s final season

Pop-up Globe, 80 Ascot Avenue, Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland
Performances are on 15 January, 16 January  and 17 January 2020 at 10am and 1pm.

Your last chance to take the kids to the Pop-Up Globe is this summer as it will be leaving Auckland at the end of the season.  See Shakespear come to life in the specially commission one-hour long production of Midsummer Night’s Dream for children aged between 5 and 12 years old and their families. These shows are relaxed and if you have yard tickets, you can stand or sit with your family on the carpeted floor. Feel free to bring your own cushions from home too! 

Tickets: Children $10; Adults $15

20. Go sailing with your family on the Ted Ashy at the NZ Maritime Museum

NZ Maritime Museum, Corner Quay and Hobson Street, Viaduct Harbour, Central Auckland
Sailings are on daily from Tuesdays to Sundays at 11:30am and 1:30pm

Ted Ashby is a ketch-rigged deck scow, typical of the fleet of scows that once operated in northern New Zealand waters. You can climb aboard for a one hour experience with her knowledgeable crew. It’s a good idea to pre-book your ticket online, although remaining spaces will be available for purchase from the Museum shop on the day. 

Tickets: Auckland children $13, Auckland adults $26;  Visitor to Auckland kids $26; Visitor to Auckland adults $53

Auckland for Kids on the Ted Ashby
Auckland for Kids on the Ted Ashy sailing cruise on Auckland Harbour