Getting kids into the outdoors safely

When it comes to the great outdoors, not too many countries have it greater than New Zealand. In just minutes you and the kids can be frolicking in the forest, kicking along a rugged coastline, or enjoying the view from the top of a rocky peak. Some of our towns and cities are so close you can literally walk out your door and be in the bush in minutes.

An ‘unexpected night out’ can happen very easily

It’s easy to underestimate the requirements for a safe and enjoyable outing. An ‘unexpected night out’ can happen very easily – an injury, an exhausted or unwell child, a wrong turn or a sudden change in weather is all it takes.

Every year a few people have a scary evening in the bush when they’d intended to be back in just a few hours.

Take the Weather With You

The New Zealand experience is defined by changeable weather, so it’s a good idea to remember Tim Finn’s advice from that Kiwi classic by Crowded House: “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you”.

MetService is New Zealand’s weather go-to for many Kiwis, and is the official forecaster for the country.

Because you can access it from your mobile you can literally take the weather with you! The site offers weather warnings and watches, national park- and mountain-specific forecasts, sun-safe hours, relative temperatures taking the wind into account, and all sorts of other useful weather-related information.

Top tip: urban forecasts aren’t always the most relevant to outdoor trips. Check the rural and mountain forecasts as well.

The essentials

Accidents happen and weather can be unpredictable so when planning a day out, especially with kids, a change of warm clothing is a must (including headwear).

You should also pack waterproof jackets (even if the sun is shining), food, drink and a basic medical kit and a power bank for the mobile phones. It’s a good idea to include a torch, a reflective blanket (portable and cheap but might just be a lifesaver), a whistle, a multi-tool or knife and a fire-lighting kit.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going

day walks with children


Even if you’re going on a short walk in the park with the kids, let someone know where you’re going and when you’re due back. Cell-phone coverage can be patchy – especially in the hills and remote places – so don’t rely on it. Text or call your contact before you go. If you don’t show up for whatever reason, they can arrange help on your behalf. All you need to do is stay put and keep the kids safe and warm until help arrives.

Plan My Trip

Everything you need to remember is now in one place.  Plan My Trip has been created by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council to help you get into our great outdoors – and get home again safely.

Just answer a few simple questions and Plan My Trip will give you a customised trip planner. This handy, interactive and printable PDF will include alerts and warnings for the area, weather advice via MetService and a customised packing list, plus resources and links to help you enjoy your adventure. What’s more it has a summary of your plans, so it’s easy to share with your trusted contact so they know where you’ll be.


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