BEST things to do in the Summer School holidays at Orange in Auckland with kids

BEST things to do in the Summer School holidays at Orange in Auckland with kids

December 2021 and January 2022 New Zealand School Holidays

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

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.  With the holidays stretching out after the lockdowns, you could even aim to visit all of the splashpads before the kids head back to school.

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

2. See Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium at Auckland Museum

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

Ready to meet a plesiosaur? How about getting to know an Anomalocaris or come close to a Kronosaurus?
Take a deep dive millions of years back in time to meet some of the most incredible creatures to ever swim the ocean depths in Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium at Auckland Museum in the January school holidays.

Dive in and get up close to these incredible prehistoric sea creatures in a fun, immersive introduction to the fascinating world of palaeontology. Big, and unmistakably ‘alive’, the animals of Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium will delight curious minds from ages 5 years and up.

Tickets: FREE for children aged 0 to 4, No seat, Children aged 5 to 13 are $15; Adults $19 or Family Pass (2 adults and 2 children) $62.

Angler Fish Erth's Prehistoric Aquarium
See Erth's Prehistoric Aquarium Immersive Theatre Experience at Auckland Museum

3.  Find the 80 giant whale tail sculptures throughout Auckland City in the Whale Tales 2022 Art Trail 

The FREE public art trail Whale Tales, is surfacing in Tāmaki Makaurau in the last week of the school holidays on 24th January 2022.  Your family can find the 80 Tails telling 80 tales which will be dotted across Auckland streets, parks, and open spaces for 12 weeks.

Each giant tail is inspired by a healthy ocean and designed by some of Aotearoa’s most talented artists. Follow the outdoor trail for some fabulous family fun, or wander through with friends to find your own favourite. 

The sculptures will be auctioned on 2 May 2022 to raise funds for WWF-New Zealand’s vital work to protect and restore the Hauraki Gulf and the Bryde’s whales that call it home.

Cost: FREE event.

Artist painting Whale Tail Sculpture

4.  Enjoy the buskers performances at the Auckland International Buskers Festival

An unmissable line-up of local performers who have performed across the globe will hit the streets over Auckland Anniversary Weekend with energetic displays of Mexican wrestling, hula-hoops, contortion, fire stunts, magical illusions, acrobatics and so much more!

The Auckland International Buskers Festival 2022 returns to Auckland’s CBD and Waterfront for another year, with four full days of crowd-pleasing delights from 28 January to 31 January 2022.

Cost: FREE but remember to put some money in their collection at the end of their performance as a sign of appreciation.

International Buskers Festival in Auckland, NZ
Auckland International Buskers Festival in Auckland City Centre

5. 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 Rewi Allery Reserve, Marlborough Park and Little Shoal Bay Reserve  on selective days in January 2022.

For the littlies, there are Raumati Summer Fun Preschool Sessions at Belmont Rose Garden, Little Shoal Reserve and Milford Reserve  in January 2022 on selective days.

Kaipataki Families in Parks

6. 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

7. 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 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

8. 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:
Manly Food Truck Evening Market on 27th January 2022,
Coyle Park Food Truck Evening Market on 28th January 2002, and
– Milford Reserve Food Truck Collective on 29th January 2022.

Cost: Entry is free, but you will need to pay for any food or drink purchased at the night markets.  

Food Truck Out East
Food Trucks Out East

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. Watch a live game of cricket at Eden Park

Eden Park, Auckland
Select days in the Summer school holidays

Take the kids to watch a live cricket game at Eden Park.  There is the Hallyburton Johnston Shield one day women’s domestic matches on the 3rd and 4th Jan 2022 and entry is FREE.  Enjoy the Double Header Super Smash games on the 7th, 15th, 20th January and 22nd January 2022 to see the Aces, Canterbury, Otago, Wellington Firebirds, Wellington Blaze CD and Hearts cricket teams compete.

Hearts Cricket

13. Visit Auckland’s very own beautiful Lavender Farms

Make a day trip out to see the bright blue purple lavender flower at CCT Lavender Farm in Karaka (pictured below) or the Lavender Farm in Riverhead. Here is our pick of New Zealand’s most beautiful lavender farms including 2 from Auckland.

Auckland for Kids visits CTT Lavendar Farm

14. Take part in the FREE Level Up Summer Reading Challenge at your local Auckland Library

Local Auckland Libraries
Auckland Library summer reading registration

Sign up for Auckland Libraries’ FREE summer reading programme for children aged 5 to 12. Kids can log their reading and complete activities on Beanstack to earn badges and go in the draw to win a summer prize pack from their local library. Plus, they are giving away a free book bag to the first 4,000 kids that register for the Level Up challenge on Beanstack.The Level Up Summer Reading Challenge runs from 13 December 2021 to 28 January 2022. 

Cost: FREE

Auckland Libraries Summer Reading

15. Discover the Dinosaurs in Auckland

Dinosaur fans can be delighted these school holidays and visit places to learn about their favourite Dinosaurs. In South Auckland you discover dinosaurs at Butterfly Creek or see the giant skeletons of dinosaurs when you visit Auckland Museum.

Butterfly Creek dinosaur
Discover the dinosaurs at DinoFest at the Auckland Botanic Gardens

16. 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. 

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. 

Discover MOTAT’s village which brings the colonial Pākehā history alive. You’ll be taken back in time as you explore the original cottages, schoolhouse, chapel, washhouse and forge.

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

Howick Historical Village Villagers Day
Howick Historical Village

17. Cool down with an ice creams and gelato

Treat the kids (and yourself) to some ice cream and gelato at one of our Favourite Ice Cream and Dessert Stores in Auckland. 

Charlies Gelato on Waiheke Island | Auckland for Kids

18. Discover Auckland’s best waterfalls

Take the kids on a day trip to one of Auckland’s hidden waterfalls. Some of our favourites are Kitekite falls (pictured below) in Piha, Wainamu Falls in Bethells Beach, Hunua Falls in the Hunua Ranges, Lucas Creek Waterfall in Albany, Karekare Falls in Karaka, and the urban Oakey Creek Waterfall in Waterview.

Kitekite waterfalls

19. 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  playground in Devonport.

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

Devonport playground
Devonport Playground | Photo by Auckland for Kids

20. 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 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

21. 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)

Little Unity Children's Bookshop

22. Explore one of Auckland’s stunning regional 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

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 Barbie Dreamtopia High Tea  where the kids get to take home a Barbie™ doll too. Visit the 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.

Cordis Barbie Dreamtopia High Tea
Kids High Tea at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland

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

Visit Rotoroa Island for the day on a ferry from downtown 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

25. Explore Cornwall Park and Maungakiekie

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. Kids can enjoy the self led Holiday Tree Trail at Cornwall Park these school holidays.

Maungakiekie, One Tree 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 is FREE.

Matariki Trail at Cornwall Park 2019

26. 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. 

Snowplanet Lessons in Auckland for Kids

27. 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.

Monkey at Auckland Zoo at Xmas

28. 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.

Piha Beach, West Auckland, New Zealand

29. Challenge the family to a game at an Escape Room, Arcade, 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 Rainbow’s End Playlab for arcade 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.

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

It is Auckland Anniversary on the 31 January 2022 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 (pictured below) on Auckland Anniversary Day, Monday 31 Jan 2022 as hundreds of vessels take to the water at Auckland’s one day regatta.

Vist the Extravaganza Auckland Anniversary Fair in Orakei Domain. Check out the Mission Bay Craft Market. Watch the talented buskers perform at the Auckland International Buskers Festival in Auckland City over Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta
Ports of Auckland SeePort Festival