Stuck For What to Do These School Holidays? Here’s What’s On, Where to Go and What to Do at Home

YAY, it’s school holidays! Two whole weeks off school to sleep in, kick back and do whatever we want and have fun and… oh wait, we’re the adults here. Yikes. Okay, if you’re wondering what the heck you should do with your little people these holidays, we’ve got you sorted.

Whether you’re keen to make a last minute trip away, a day excursion, something to kill a few hours – or a fun activity to do at home, we’ve got a few ideas for you.

Take in a Science Show…
MOTAT Auckland, Adults $19, Kids $10.

Do you have a budding scientist at home? MOTAT is the place to be these school holidays! With two locations joined by free heritage tram rides, daily activities and live shows – holidays have never been so much fun.

Thanks to the Science Roadshow, get hands-on with exhibitions and interactive displays showcasing the body, energy, and scientific discovery. Catch a live show each hour and learn about the power of physical and chemical changes.

Make your way on a free heritage tram over to the Aviation Hall and hit the microscopes, telescopes, and infrared cameras with our friends at Lab in a Box. There’s also the opportunity to try your hand at sun printing and 3D printing just in time for LIVE DAY: Printing on Sunday 21st April.

Go Behind the Scenes…
Weta Workshop Unleashed, kids $26, adults $50.

Step into a fantastical film effects workshop and explore the worlds of horror, sci-fi and fantasy in-the-making, with the Weta Workshop Unleashed experience!

The 90-minute guided experience in Auckland’s CBD includes monsters, giants and robots (oh my!), interactive gizmos, discombobulating displays and eye-popping practical effects as you discover how the crew designs, builds and bring their creations to life.

Pat a Dinosaur…
Butterfly Creek, Auckland (Adults $25, Kids $16

This picture pretty much sold me on another trip to Butterfly Creek. Besides their regular every day activities (animal encounters with butterflies, eels, otters, cotton top tamarins, crocodiles, meerkats and tarantula), over the school holidays every day there’s an added extra entertainment between 10am and 2pm. From Monday to Thursday there’s Butterfly Arts and Crafts Activities, on Fridays there’s Face Painting, plus on Fridays to Sundays there’s Roaming Dinosaur Entertainment.

Become a Dragon Warrior….
Auckland’s Sky Tower, Adults $37, Kids $18

To celebrate Kung Fu Panda 4 in cinemas from 4 April, take the journey from top-to-bottom at the Sky Tower to prove yourself worthy as the next Kung Fu hero!

Look out for the dynamic Kung Fu Panda activities in the 360° view of Tāmaki Makaurau where all the fun and games await you. Every child receives a Dragon Warrior activity booklet upon entry, to kick start their epic adventure.

Let your little ones test their ninja skills with a game of Fruit Ninja, enjoy all the Kung Fu Panda activities around the Sky Tower and finally head down to the bamboo forest at ground floor for your Dragon Warrior martial arts training available daily, 11am-2pm. Hi-yah! Psst, keep an eye out on a roaming panda on the weekends!

After the Dragon Warrior Sky Tower experience, kids can trade in their entry form in the activity booklet for a chance to win a Kung Fu Panda 4 Prize Pack of pure-awesomeness!

Keep Them Entertained at Home…

It seems that any time you leave the house with a kid in tow, it ends up costing an arm and a leg? To keep costs down overall, I find it’s well worth spending a small amount to stock up on craft supplies, colouring books and board games to have on hand (especially if there’s not going to be a lot of sunshine happening).

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune – one of my go-to’s is to always have a bag of cornflour in the cupboard. Then, all you need is water and a mixing bowl and you can create THE BEST slime – Cornflour slime. Is it a liquid? Is it a solid? It’s the weirdest, most wonderful concoction. It’s also a great little educational piece about non-Newtonian liquids – you can read more here.

I also find a jigsaw puzzle in the cupboard to be a godsend when you need an activity that’s going to last more than seven minutes. The Warehouse actually has heaps to choose from – like this one, that is only $10.98 and has 1,000 pieces!

Head to the Movies…

As always, there is a slew of new family-friendly movies hitting the cinemas, just in time to save your sanity during the holidays. This time round, highlights include

  • Kung Fu Panda 4 Out now – Rated PG. Po and the rest of the Furious Five return for this fourth installment of DreamWorks’ comedic martial arts saga.
  • The Mountain Out now – Rated PG. Rachel House makes her directorial feature debut with this heartfelt drama about three children on a mission to find healing under the watchful eye of Taranaki Maunga and discover friendship in the spirit of adventure.
  • Migration Out now – Rated PG. A family of ducks try to convince their overprotective father to go on the vacation of a lifetime in this family film from Illumination (Minions). From the Oscar-nominated director of Ernest & Celestine and the Emmy-winning writer of The White Lotus.

Watch it at Home…

Woody Woodpecker Goes to Camp (Netflix, rated PG, out April 12) After getting kicked out of the forest, Woody thinks he’s found a forever home at Camp Woo Hoo — until an inspector threatens to shut down the camp.

Jane: Season 2 (Apple TV, rated PG, from April 19) Budding environmentalist Jane is a nine-year-old on a quest to save endangered animals in this kids adventure series. Using her powerful imagination, Jane takes her best friends David and Greybeard the chimpanzee on epic adventures to help protect wild animals all around the world.

Disneynature’s Tiger (Disney+, rated PG, from April 22) Disney nature doco lifting the veil on our planet’s most revered and charismatic animal, inviting viewers to journey alongside Ambar, a young tigress raising her cubs in the fabled forests of India.

Take a Road Trip with the Kids:

  1. Reel in a trout in Turangi:
The Creel Tackle House in Turangi is a must to grab a coffee and pastry from before you head off to catch a trout!

If you’ve got a budding fisherman or fisherwoman in the family, why not head to the Tongariro Trout Centre in Turangi. There’s lovely walks meandering around the river, plus a native aquarium and Rainbow Trout Hatchery, but the real (or reel?) star of the show is the kid’s fly fishing area. For $45 kids aged 5-18 get a licence and all the gear, then go out with an instructor who helps them land their own trout. By the time you’ve made it back to the entrance – especially if you take a look in the museum – the trout will have been filleted, smoked (in manuka honey and brown sugar) and ready to be eaten on site, or taken away. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Tūrangi, we can recommend the Tūrangi Trout Lodge – there’s a river right out front to put your new-found fishing skills to the test!

Take the Kids to Mount Maunganui

There is PLENTY to do in the Mount for families – it’s one of the best spots in NZ for it. And, if you head there for these April school holidays, there’s likely still opportunities to swim in the sea (honestly! We went in April 2023!). So where to go? Where to eat? What to try? We’ve got all our top recommendations here, including a rental property we found on that’s perfect for big families (and actually affordable!)

Lap up the Last of the Autumn Sunshine in The Far North

If you’re ready to confuse people and have them asking ‘oh wait, did you go to Fiji for the school holidays?’ when they see your holiday snaps, then we have just the destination for you. We hunted down some secret hidden treasure spots in the far north where the beaches boast white sand and crystal clear waters!

For some of the best kept secret beaches in Northland, we’ve got the list of must-sees here!

Have a Pool Holiday (Any Time of Year!) in Rotorua

If you’d love to take the kids on a tropical Fijian or Raro island getaway for the holidays, but the fact that everything costs an arm and a leg right now, is putting it well out of reach… well, we have good news. We can’t promise it’ll be sun-tanning weather, BUT, there’s a spot in Rotorua (yes, Rotorua), where you can live out your pool holiday dreams with the family. And, besides taking dips and drinking cocktails – there’s so much to do in Rotorua! We’ve got all the best tips here.

Head Overseas!

A Three-Star Family-Friendly Fiji Resort at a Five Star Location.

Yip, if you’re looking for a jaw-dropping location with pristine white sand, crystal clear waters on a remote island – but also want the kids to be able to come and have a ball, without re-mortgaging your house, Plantation Island should be your go-to!

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