Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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.

Go to An Urban Circus!
Auckland’s Civic Theatre, tickets from $34 per person

BMX, basketball, breakdancing, acrobatics, drumming and more, the international smash hit stage show, 360 ALLSTARS returns for its 10-year anniversary tour!

Boasting a stellar cast of World Champion and World Record-holding artists and athletes, 360 ALLSTARS is a spectacular fusion of the extraordinary artistry that emerges from street culture. Add to this a stunning live soundtrack delivered by award-winning musicians, coupled with spectacular video projections, 360 ALLSTARS is as aurally exciting as it is visually astounding.

Best suited for those aged eight and up, there are four shows on at the Civic from Weds 27 to Saturday 30 September, all at 7pm. All are just one hour long, with no intermission. If you’re looking for something extra, the 360 ALLSTARS are also offering one-hour dedicated workshops led by the team, in breakdancing, circus or found sound and looping.

Fly High!
Auckland’s MOTAT, Entry from $10

There’s always something new to see and do at MOTAT, and, in perfect timing for school holidays there’s a fab new exhibition on from September 17. Te Kōtiu (meaning to swoop) is a brand new immersive experience that showcases key moments in aviation in Aotearoa projected onto several planes and screens within the Aviation Hall. See history come to life with bold balloonists, the glorious gliding of pioneer aviator George Bolt, and the extraordinary feats and records of leading Aotearoa aviators such as Jean Batten. Listen to inspiring messages from female trailblazers such as Air New Zealand pilots and aerospace start-up engineers. 

Running daily on the hour from 10:30am – you won’t want to miss this!

Visit Ancient Egypt
Auckland Museum, tickets $40 per person

Ready to make a mummy? Paint a tomb, or try your hand at hieroglyphics? Then book in for a magical night at Auckland Museum as they whisk you back over 3,000 years to a time when the pharaohs ruled Egypt.  

The hugely popular school holiday night tours of the museum are always sell-outs, so get in quick! Especially as these holidays are a look behind the workings of the latest Egyptian exhibition. Night at Auckland Museum: Wonders of Egypt, will entrance children as ancient characters come alive to show you the many wonders of their mighty and fascinating civilisation – from the gilded reign of pharaohs to the daily life of workers, farmers and artists.

If you do miss out on tickets, the regular exhibition is open every day during the school holidays, and is well worth a visit!

Head to Jurassic World
Takina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre, from $25.90

What’s better than Lego and dinosaurs? DINOSAURS MADE OF LEGO. If you’re in Wellington these school holidays (or anytime before Oct 16, you’re going to want to get yourself (and the kids!) to the Takina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre, for the Jurassic World by Brickman® exhibition. An adventure 6-million LEGO® bricks in the making, this jaw-dropping, interactive activity is a must-see.

It featuring large-scale dinosaurs, props, scenes and activities made from over 6 million LEGO® bricks, allowing you to relive the magic of beloved stories and characters from the Jurassic World franchise, as you embark on a thrilling journey across the Isla Nublar.

Walk through the iconic gates of the park and experience the inner workings of the Jurassic World lab. Venture into the baby dinosaur enclosure, where a life-size Brachiosaurus weighing well over 1.8 tonnes awaits! Encounter incredible models of Triceratops, Velociraptors, T.rex and many more. Get hands-on with LEGO® brick palaeontology, mystery mosaics, island-building, hybrid dinosaur creations and much more. There will be 2.5 million LEGO® bricks for you to show off your own building skills!

See Queenstown from the Sky
Skyline Queenstown, $141 for a family of 4

Just in time for the school holidays, the new and improved Skyline Queenstown gondola has reopened. Offering stunning views across Queenstown, the iconic gondola is the steepest cable car life in the Southern Hemisphere, carrying passengers 480 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak. Each cabin can fit 10 passengers, and is now capable of transporting 6000 people per hour to-and-from the summit!

It’s totally worth doing for the gondola ride alone – but while you’re up there, there’s also the opportunity to ride the luge, take a guided walk or eat at one of the fantastic restaurants.

Meet Not One, But TWO T-Rex
Peter and Barbara at Auckland Museum, admission is FREE

If you haven’t seen ‘Peter’ the T-Rex yet, you haven’t missed your chance – in fact, the experience has got even more amazing!

For the past year, ‘Peter’, one of the world’s rarest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons, has captured the imagination of visitors to the Museum. Now Peter is being joined by Barbara, an even larger female T. rex with an incredible survival story of her own to tell.  

Now, in a world-first, you can witness history in the making as Peter and Barbara make their duo debut in Te Ao Mārama South Atrium – the only place you can see an adult male and female T. rex on display together. The duo will be on display until the end of 2023.

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.

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

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Out now – Rated PG. The 90s crime-fighting turtle foursome return in this Nickelodeon CG-animated feature, with a screenplay co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and from the co-director of The Mitchells vs the Machines.
  • Paw Patrol. Out Sept 21 – Rated G. When a magical meteor crash lands in Adventure City, it gives the PAW Patrol pups superpowers, transforming them into The Mighty Pups!
  • Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken Out Sept 21 – Rating TBC. DreamWorks Animation teen fantasy adventure set in a world where krakens are noble creatures and mermaids are self-absorbed villains. Features the voices of Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Jaboukie Young-White (Ralph Breaks the Internet), Oscar nominee Toni Collette and Academy Award winner Jane Fonda.

Watch it at Home…

The Little Mermaid (Disney+ rated PG) Halle Bailey, one half of Grammy-nominated duo Chloe x Halle, plays iconic mermaid Ariel in this Disney adaptation of the classic fish-out-of-water story. Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Rob Marshall (Chicago), co-starring Oscar veterans Javier Bardem as King Triton and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula.

Cats in the Museum (Rent it on NEON, rated G) A family film about the famous four-legged inhabitants of the St. Petersburg Winter Palace—museum cats that protect the territory of the State Hermitage from rats and mice.

Spy Kids: Armageddon (Watch from Sept 22 on Netflix, rated PG) Director Robert Rodriguez helms the fifth film in the 22-year-old family action-comedy series. When the children of the world’s greatest secret agents unwittingly help a powerful Game Developer unleash a computer virus that gives him control of all technology, they must become spies themselves to save their parents and the world.

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 woman 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. So where to go? Where to eat? What to try? We’ve got all our top recommendations 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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