30 BEST things to do these Summer School holidays: December 2020 and Jan 2021

30 BEST things to do in the Summer School Holidays with kids in Auckland, New Zealand

December 2020 and January 2021 school holidays

Man O' War Waiheke Winery - Auckland for Kids

It’s the Summer School Holidays! To help you plan what to do with the kids over the break, we’ve put together our favourite summer activities and ideas for you to enjoy together as a family.

1. Cool down at one of Auckland’s Splashpads

 Our favourite Auckland splash pads

While we can’t turn on our hoses at homes due to water restrictions, the good news is that Auckland’s splashpads will be operating this summer. Take the kids (and yourself) to cool down at one of our favourite Auckland splashpads. You can find them at Myers Park in the Auckland City Centre, Tōia Ōtāhuhu splashpad in Otahuhu, Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa splashpad in Mangere, Potters Park in Balmoral (pictured below), Stanmore Bay splashpad, Lloyd Elsmore splashpad, Waterview Reserve splashpad or Hobsonville Point Water Park or all of them during the Summer School holidays.

Potters Park Splashpad
Potters Park Splash Pad and Playground | Photo: Auckland for Kids

2. Visit the Brickman Awesome: Epic LEGO® Brick Creations exhibition at Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum, The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand
On daily until Sunday 28 February 2021 (excluding Christmas Day)

LEGO® fans will love seeing the new Brickman Awesome: Epic LEGO® Brick Creations exhibition from the mind of LEGO® Certified Professional, Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught.  Entries are every half hour, however you can stay as long as you like. Plus while you are at the Museum you can visit the new atrium.

Exhibition cost: FREE for children under 5; $15 Children aged to 13; Students $17 and Adults $22.50; FREE for Auckland Museum members

Brickman Awesome Epic LEGO Brick Creations 2020 Auckland Museum

3. 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

4. Visit the America’s Cup Village

Take a trip into the Viaduct to take in the atmosphere of the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland. Have a try on the AC75 Simulator, but you need to book your FREE spot before you visit. 

On the days that races are on, you can watch the yachts racing on the big screen at the Village. The Prada America’s Cup World Series Auckland and PRADA Christmas Race are on from 17 to 20 December 2020 and The PRADA Cup races are on from 15 January to 22 February 2021.  You can also watch the live December races from the Beachside Grandstand in Takapuna.

The America’s Cup presented by PRADA races start later in the year when the kids are back at school on 6 March 2021.

Cost: FREE entrance to the America’s Cup Village

5. Eat out with the family at a local Food Truck Market Night

There are lots of Food Truck Markets over the summer school holidays to visit with the family:
Hobsonville Point Christmas Twilight Market
– Food Truck Fridays at Britomart
Te Atatu Night Christmas Market

Cost: Entry is free, but you will need to purchase your food and drinks at the market.

Food Truck Out East
Food Trucks Out East

6. Take the family out for FREE rides at Trillian Trust Funfest 2021

Vodafone Events Centre, 770 Great South Road, Manukau
Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 January 2021: 9am to 5pm each day
Funfest 2021 event information

The whole family can enjoy a fun day out at Trillian Trust Funfest 2021 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 Fun Fest Roller Coaster
Free family rides at Funfest

7. Enjoy one of the FREE Families in Parks Summer Fun sessions

Take the family to one or more of the FREE summer fun family sessions on the North Shore in the summer school holidays.  Family in Park Sessions at Normanton Reserve in Glenfield, Little Shoal Bay in Northcote and Marlborough Park in Glenfield in December and January on selective days.

For the littlies, there are Summer Fun Preschool Sessions at Jutland Reserve in Hauraki, Sunnynook Park and Sylvan Park in Milford, Castor Bay Reserve in Castor Bay, Bayswater Park in Bayswater and Seine Reserve in Forrest Hill in January 2021 on selective days.

Kaipataki Families in Parks

8. Take a day trip to Waiheke Island

Book a ferry from the city or Half Moon Bay to go to Waiheke Island for the day. If you are going for a short stay then we recommend taking your car on the car ferry to make it easier to get around the island.  There are lots of fun things to do with kids on Waiheke Island. Visit Oneroa Beach which also has a children’s playground. Stop off for an ice cream at one of our kids favourites, the Island Gelato store in Oneroa Village. If your kids are over 10 years old, then you can each hire an electric bike to get around the island for the day. Visit Wild on Waiheke which is a kid friendly winery with a playground, trampoline, petanque and giant chess set to the keep the kids entertained and you can go claybird shooting and do archery together as a family. If your kids like adventure then check out the EcoZip flying-fox ziplines too. If you are staying for more than a day then it’s also worth visiting the Man O’ War Vineyard (lead image) which is at the eastern end of the island on a metal road with lovely views over the beach, and brunch on the weekend. 

Fishing from the wharf Waiheke
Fishing off the Wharf on Waiheke Island

9. 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
Parnell Baths | Photo: Auckland for Kids

10. Enjoy a family day trip to Matakana

Matakana Family Day Out Guide

Head up to Matakana for a fun family day out, or stay for a few days.  See the outdoor art sculptures and animals at Sculptureum. Check out the Matakana Village township which has a Saturday Farmers market, boutique cinema, shops and cafes and restaurants. 

Visit the beautiful white sand beaches nearby of Omaha and Pakiri Beach for a swim with the family. Pakiri Beach is a good place to go surf casting, especially near the river mouth.

Get out on the water in a  Clearyak, Glass Bottom Boat or Kayak at Goat Island Marine Reserve in Leigh which is only a short drive from Matakana. Don’t forget to visit the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre run by the University of Auckland so the kids can get up close to the marine life you have seen and learn about New Zealand’s marine life.

Elephants at Sculptureum, Matakana - Auckland for Kids
Admiring the animal sculptures at Sculptureum in Matakana | Photo: Auckland for Kids

11. Go on a family bike, scooter or skateboard ride

There are lots of fun places to go for a family bike, scooter and skate board ride in Auckland. Pack a picnic and head to your favourite bike track, pump track or park with the kids scooters, bikes and skateboards. The picture below is of the Skatepark in Waterview.

Waterview Skatepark
Waterview Skatepark | Photo by Auckland for Kids

12. Experience what the future looks like at the new Science Fiction Science Future exhibition at MOTAT

MOTAT, 805 Great North Road,  Western Springs, Auckland
Open daily during the December 2020 and January 2021school holidays from 10am to 5pm (excluding Christmas Day)
Science Fiction Science Future event information

We visited the new exhibition Science Fiction Science Future which had lots of fun hands-on interactive science for kids to experience the future. Plus you can check out the rest of MOTAT and ride the trams when you visit in the holidays.

Cost: Entrance is included as part of the general admission fees which are FREE for children under five; $10 for Children and Students; $19 for Adults and a Family Pass is $45 for 2 adults and up to 4 children.

Science Fiction Science Future at MOTAT
Auckland for Kids visits the Science Fiction Science Future exhibition at MOTAT

13. Watch a live game of cricket together

Eden Park, 
Select days in the Summer school holidays

Take the kids to watch a live cricket game at Eden Park.  There is the BLACKCAPS v Pakistan, the Super Smash Auckland v Central Districts or the Auckland v Otago Double Header games happening in the holidays.

14. Discover the Dinosaurs in Auckland

Dinosaur fans can be delighted these school holidays as there are 3 places to visit to learn about their favourite Dinosaurs. In South Auckland you discover dinosaurs at Butterfly Creek or you can visit one of the DinoFest Auckland sessions at the Botanic Gardens.  If you want to see what the giant skeletons of dinosaurs then visit Auckland Museum.

DinoFest Auckland 2021
Discover the dinosaurs at DinoFest at the Auckland Botanic Gardens

15. Take part in the FREE Whānau Summer reading, sorted challenge and holiday activities at your local Auckland Library

Local Auckland Libraries
Auckland Library summer reading sorted whānau registration

Sign up for Auckland Libraries’ FREE summer reading programme for children aged 5 to 13. Choose from events at local Auckland libraries to attend such as: The Science of Bubbles in Aotea Square with the Central City Library and Water Fight Day at Remuera Library.

Cost: FREE

16. Go on an Auckland playground 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. The photo below is of the new playground in Devonport.

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

Devonport playground
Devonport Playground | Photo by Auckland for Kids

17. Rediscover Auckland’s past

Visit some of the heritage properties in Auckland with the kids to see what living in Auckland used to be like.

Howick Historical Village (pictured below) is an open air museum of what Howick was like in the mid to late 1800s.  Events on in the school holidays include: Family style tea time treats and Pollinators and Plants Talks in the holidays. 

Go on a self guided tour of Highwic House in Newmarket, which is one of New Zealand’s finest timber Gothic homes built in 1862. 

Visit Alberton House and it’s gardens in Mt Albert, which was built in 1863. Later in the year, it hosts a Market Day on 14 February 2021. 

Cost: Admission fees apply for entrance to each of the historical properties

Howick Historical Village Villagers Day
Howick Historical Village

18. Go ice skating for FREE

Westgate Shopping Centre, Frey Taylor Drive, Westgate
11 December to 24 December 2020: 11am to 6pm each day
Holiday event information

Take the kids ice skating for FREE in the December school holidays at Westgate Shopping Centre. 

Cost: FREE

19. Experience white water rafting with your 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 more about Auckland for Kids visit to Vector Wero.

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

20. Magical bookstores for children

Visit one of Auckland’s best children’s book stores to find books to inspire your children and young adults. Our favourite bookshops dedicated to children are the Little Unity Children’s Bookshop in Auckland CBD and The Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop in Ponsonby. 

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

21. 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 in South-East Auckland (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
Duder Regional Park

22. Explore Cornwall Park

Cornwall Park, Espom, Auckland

Cornwall Park was gifted by Sir John Logan Campbell to New Zealand in 1901 for New Zealanders to enjoy and experience nature in Auckland for free. Cornwall Park is 425 acres of New Zealand’s living history, weaving together our heritage, ecology, agriculture, wildlife, mauri and community. In December you can go on a self-lead Christmas Tree Trail with the kids to learn about the trees and the different festive traditions around the world. January school holiday activities at Cornwall Park include making Paper Butterfly Windsocks at Huia Lodge on the weekends, a guided tree walk, and a chance to Meet their Machinery.

Maungakiekie, One Trill Hill is next to Cornwall Park where you can go for a walk up to the summit and visit the children’s playground and Stardome for a planetarium show.

Cost: Cornwall Park entrance and activities are FREE.

Kid playing on machinery at Cornwall Park

23. Treat the kids to High Tea

Treat the kids and their grandparents to High Tea in the school holidays at one of Auckland’s hotels. The Cordis has a special Cody High Tea menu for kids under 12 years old where the kids get to take home a Cosy red panda toy too. Visit the newly opened Park Hyatt Hotel’s Living Room for a modern take on high tea where it is served over five courses from Wednesdays to Sunday afternoons.

Kids High Tea at the Cordis in Auckland, NZ
Kids High Tea at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland

24. Where to see animals with the kids in Auckland

For the animal fans in your family, there are plenty of places to go in Auckland. Go for a day out to Butterfly Creek, Kelly Tarltons SeaLife, Auckland Zoo, Ambury Farm and High Field Donkey Reserve.

25. Take a Day Trip to Rotoroa island to see the endangered New Zealand wildlife

Visit Rotoroa Island for the day on a ferry from down town Auckland to see the endangered wildlife and beautiful white sand beaches. The island is 80 hectares so it is small enough to explore in a day. 

Exploring Rock pools on Rotoroa Island
Rotoroa Island

26. Challenge the family to a game at an Escape Room, Arcades, Bowling or Virtual Reality Studio

Tweens love to challenge adults to test their skills in a family game in the holidays. Pick what your tweens favourite type of activity is and then head off to see whose team wins.  Some of our favourite places to go for a family challenge are Archie Brothers for arcade games and bowling; Rainbow’s End Playlab for arcade games; Holey Moley for indoor mini golf games; VR Voom for Virtual Reality games and the Escape Masters in Auckland CBD and Manukau and Escape HQ in Takapuna for well I think you can guess, Escape Rooms.

27. Visit one of West Auckland’s black sand beaches and go for a bush walk in the Waitakere Ranges

Auckland’s West Coast Beaches are stunning and a fun place to go for the day with the kids. Some of our favourite beaches are:
– Muriwai with a visit to the Gannet colony;
– Bethells Beach with a walk around Lake Wainamu;
– Piha with a stop at the Piha Cafe for lunch; and
– Karekare with a visit to the nearby waterfall too. 

Stop by at the Arataki Centre on your way out and talk to the rangers to find out what bush tracks are open and suitable for your family to combine with a trip to one of the beaches.

28. Check out the FREE Kids Japanese Festival

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place, Auckland City Centre
Friday 22 January 2021: 10am to 4pm
Japanese Festival event info

Join in the  Kids Japanese Festival these holidays with your family and enjoy FREE Japanese animation movies Ponyo and Penguin Highway and fun activities for kids. The films are shown in English.

Cost: FREE (but you need to register if you want to watch one of the movies.

Japanese Children's Film
Kids Japanese Festival

29. Have fun with the kids out of the sun whilst burning off some energy

If you want to keep the kids out of the sun on a super hot day, but want to do something sporty together that you can burn off some of their restless energy, we recommend going Snowplanet to learn how to ski or snowboard in the cool, JUMP indoor trampoline park in Avondale, the North Shore or Takanini, Bounce & Beyond in East Tamaki which has areas for little kids as well as an area for kids 8+ (and adults) with inflatable obstacle courses, jousting area and boxing ring. 

30. Celebrate Auckland Anniversary Weekend before the kids go back to school

It is Auckland Anniversary on the 1 February this year and the last long weekend before most of the kids have to go back to school.  Celebrate Auckland’s Anniversary with your family at one of the weekend’s popular events.

Watch the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta on Auckland Anniversary Day, Monday 1 February 2021 as hundreds of vessels take to the water at Auckland’s one day regatta.

Visit the SeePort festival (pictured below) when the Ports of Auckland opens its red gates to let the Auckland public in see how the Port works in the day with bus tours, Royal New Zealand Navy Visits, Airforce working dogs and drones, mini golf and more activities. In the evening there is a FREE family-friendly concert and fireworks.

Watch the talented buskers perform at the Auckland International Buskers Festival in Auckland City over Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

Visit the 48th Auckland Folk Festival for a day or weekend over Anniversary weekend in Kumeu. New Zealand’s largest Folk Festival has a special Kids Stage and Zone as well as six stages of exceptional folk artists.

SeePort Festival on Auckland Anniversary Weekend
Ports of Auckland SeePort Festival