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School holiday & weekend activities

We asked parents on our Facebook page what they do during the school holidays and got some pretty amazing ideas, as we're sure you'll agree!

Tried and tested tips and tricks

  • Draw a blank calendar for each day of the holidays (that’s day one sorted – make the calendar!!) - put one no or low cost thing to do down for each day of the week and one thing that costs some money for the weekend. That way the day is planned, they kids have chosen the activities and it’s a good visual reminder of what they did over the holidays
  • Get together with some other mums or dads and make a friends date calendar. If there are five of you then one day each week you can take turns having the group of kids at your place, gives each parent a day off to get things done or shopping without the extra stress. Then each parent makes up a day of activities that the kids can enjoy. Sometimes just being at another friend's house is all they need to fight the so called "boredom
  • "First thing for school holidays. Go thru the child's bag, clean out any crumbs, the lunch box, wash the uniform. Second, make plans for what you want to do, things don't have to cost much even if you are on a budget
  • Plan & research ahead. You don't need a day by day plan, but if you've got a list of activities for wet weather & sunny days then you're halfway sorted – you can add these to a jar and pull one out to do when you/they need to
  • During the year, keep a list of things you’ve done that were a hit or good ideas you’ve come across online, talking with other parents, things your kids show a mild interest in and refer to the list over the holidays to see if you can manage any of them
  • Keep making the lunches the night before. That way there is less pressure on you when you are busy and if it's a surprise nice day you can just pop them in a bag and head to the park for a stress free picnic. The kids won't mind and they can eat when hungry without stressing you out for snacks
  • Plan the days in advance - pick 1 day each week for play dates, 1 day holiday programme each week, 1 day each week for hike/exploring, 1 day each week for parks/beach and also pick a paid option like zoo/swimming/gondola etc rest of the days are free days
  • Just let them play - with water, natural things, use their imagination. Don't plan too much, let the kids rest that is why it's called holidays - to have a break from rushing around etc
  • Make some time to turn all the screens and devices off and spend some time together laughing and doing something you all love. We have a DIY digital detox box to help with this one!
  • But, don't beat yourself up if your kids watch some movies and tv...we all need downtime!

When it’s time to get out and about

  • Visit your local parks by walking, cycling or using scooters to get to them. Great way to explore your neighbourhood. If you have older children get a map so they can see where the parks are and lead the way by using their navigation skills
  • Parks we love: Orton Bradley Park; Victoria Park; Margaret Mahy playground; Hallswell quarry; The Groynes; The Botanic Gardens; Brownlee Reserve; Heathcote Domain; Ouruhuia Domain; Arion Park; Orana Park
  • Check out BookMe for cheap deals on 'tourist' things to do in your own city, especially good for booking the night before
  • Go to the movies
  • Mini golf
  • Painting rocks and hiding them at local playground etc
  • Ring up a Non Profit Charitable organisation and see if you and the children could volunteer for the day... especially for older kids
  • Maybe visit a rest home or hospital, you may be able to volunteer some time to read to some patients
  • If a neighbour has a dog ask if you can walk it maybe around the block
  • Flying kites
  • Picnic in the car if it’s raining
  • Visit friends & family that we don't visit often during term time
  • Nature scavenger hunt – e.g. find a red leaf, a blue flower, 2 birds…
  • The Museum
  • The Air Force Museum
  • Art gallery
  • Take the bikes to the park, the beach, bottle lake forest
  • Pine cone hunting
  • Walk on the beach... go shell collecting...
  • Go to your local bmx track
  • Bus adventure day. Put the slow cooker on, make sure you've got some cash with you. Hop on the first bus, kids decide the directions, when to hop off, who gets to push the button, get on the next bus going whichever way and come late afternoon if you haven't left any of the kids behind, find the next bus towards home
  • Make the most of rainy days - get outside with boots, rain jackets and umbrellas - jumping in puddles, splashing and rain dances! Then a nice warm bath and drink
  • We love to bike into town and go for an adventure - Sometimes we bus home if we've been out too long and the kids are tired! But it's a full day activity. So much to see and explore in the city now!
  • Feed the eels by the Bridge of Remembrance
  • Go to the Antarctic Centre for sure
  • Bake cookies and take them to a fire station
  • Spend a few hours at an Animal rescue centre
  • Libraries, there are fabulous library events, make a plan to visit as many as possible.
  • We always go to The Court Theatre for children's plays during school holidays.
  • Go swimming at the local pool, or go to another suburb and have a swim
  • It wasn't up and running in April 2017 when we asked parents for ideas, but if it was we're sure we would have had lots of people suggesting Open City!

When it’s time to be at home

Home days can be just as much fun as getting out and about. Sometimes a slower pace is just what's needed after an action packed school term! Just follow their lead and you’ll end up playing some interesting things together at home.

  • Building a hut inside and watching a movie in it
  • Playdates with other kids
  • Have a photography day – you always need more photos to send the relatives – get the kids to take a photo while everyone does a headstand
  • Baking Day
  • Art & Crafts Day
  • Get out the chalk – art work your paths or 4 square/hop scotch
  • Playing spotlight after dark
  • Board games
  • Colouring books
  • Make play dough
  • Or make modelling dough. There are ones you can even eat as well
  • Watch a movie on the TV
  • Do a beauty salon hairdressing or paint nails, do facials etc
  • Get the kids to help you do the house work. As soon as it's finished you can do something they want to do!
  • Turn the music up and dance
  • Do karaoke look up websites, download and print of the words to the kid's favourite songs
  • Do a comedy act, New Zealand idol, a play – a mini-performance
  • Have a clean-up of old toys, books, clothing, and ring up the Salvation Army, City Mission etc to donate the items.
  • Get the lego out
  • Home days can be just as much fun as getting out and about. Sometimes a slower pace is just what's needed after an action packed school term! Just follow their lead and you’ll end up playing some interesting things together at home
  • Dress ups
  • Tea parties
  • Obstacle courses
  • Cars on electrical tape lanes stuck to the carpet and over the couch (or anywhere you feel happy to have electrical tape stuck!)
  • Let the kids be bored. I think boredom forces kids to use their imagination and problem solve. The possibilities are endless when you use your imagination!
  • Make things out of boxes were a few of my faves
  • Pyjama days! We write them on the calendar and deliberately go nowhere.
  • I have a rainy day stash of craft activities that my son doesn't know about. Only cheap stuff, but things we don't usually do at home. If there are days that don't work out as planned (or I just need quiet time!!!) I know I‘ve got something he will enjoy doing that doesn't involve going out or spending heaps of money
  • Teach the kids to make breakfast. Then remind them of that the night before so that they bring you breakfast in bed!
  • Pick up some free wood/pallets around town and get the kids into the garage to build and create whatever they want
  • Have each child have a day when they plan (to a budget) shop, cook and prepare a meal. Points for presentation

And look after yourself too...

  • Don't put too much pressure on yourself to do lots of outings and play dates. Take time to chill out at home and do easy activities
  • Plan a child-free thing to one evening or weekend day. Having something to look forward to can really help during the hard times
  • Child swap with a friend. One day you have their kids as well as your own, then on another day your friend has your kids as well as their own
  • Don't feel guilty if you have to work... That's life. You can make plenty of memories doing micro fun things outside work time. Picnic on the lounge floor for tea, a walk under the stars etc
  • For more on looking after yourself check out our Parenting Guides
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