Cross your fingers as much as you like for some great weather during the winter school holidays but Mother Nature will no doubt have other plans.
Kidspot has a treasure trove of fun activities, games and crafts for kids to enjoy indoors, but when the weather does break, there’s plenty to do out of the house too. So, wrap up warm and take a look at our ideas for winter fun.
Head to Westfield
Get out of the cold and head to your local Westfield to find some indoor fun. Westfield have their own school holiday activities but it is also a wonderland of entertainment with movies, shops, craft stores and more to keep the kids entertained throughout the winter school holidays.
Visit local attractions
When was the last time you took the family to the local zoo, museum, aquarium, art gallery or historic house? During winter crowds tend to be smaller as you’re not competing with quite so many overseas tourists and holidaymakers. Many attractions also have activities for the kids including crafts, hands-on interaction and activity sheets to complete as they make their way around (these are great for keeping the kids occupied, giving you a few moments of peace to explore the exhibits). To avoid quivering bottom lips, be sure to check the times for any special activities and if you need to book ahead.
Get your skates on!
Even if you’re not in an area that sees a lot of fluffy white snow during the winter, the kids can still enjoy some winter fun. The whole family can experience the fun of ice-skating at pop-up rinks which are becoming popular. There are also a few permanent rinks around the country. Skate hire is usually available as well as helmets for the little ones and ‘seals’ or similar apparatus that help the novice skaters to keep their balance! Keep an eye on one-day deal and voucher websites for offers.
- Snowplanet in Auckland offers skiing, snowboarding and tubing at New Zealand’s only indoor ski slope.
- Paradice Ice Skating (Botany and Avondale) offers indoor ice skating all year round.
- Craft corner: Paper snowflakes
Become one with nature
The nights and mornings may be cold but we do tend to benefit from some beautiful sunny days in winter. Grab some warm clothing, sturdy shoes, pack some snacks and drinks and head out for a short bushwalk to clear the cobwebs and get some much-needed fresh air. Do your research beforehand to make sure you’re not taking on the Everest of all bushwalks and choose one that little legs will manage OK. Added attractions like waterfalls, lookouts, bridges or dams can increase the interest factor. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you head out.
Even just a stroll around the park to the playground, a sea-shell search at the beach or a kick-about with a ball will put everyone in a better frame of mind. When you arrive home, forget the five minute showers for one day and warm up those little toes and fingers with a long warm bath full of bubbles and bath toys.
Making the most of the darkness
Being on the ‘other’ side of the world means that sometimes our traditions don’t really match up with our weather. Christmas in the middle of summer is great for beach BBQs, but not so much for seeing the full glory of Christmas lights. Firework displays for Guy Fawkes and New Year’s tend to start rather late while waiting for the sun to set. In the dull and dreary winter there’s no such problem! So make the most of the earlier darkness with ‘after dark’ activities like night sky planetarium shows, after dark experiences at zoos and nature reserves, mid-winter ‘Christmas’ fairs and night time events that won’t keep the kiddies up too late. Check your local what’s on guide for events.
Make a splash
Let’s face it. We are Kiwis. We love the water. But without a wetsuit or a good dose of bravery, we’re not heading out for a swim at the beach any time in the next few months. Indoor pool complexes and aquatic centres not only boast heated pools, they also often have saunas or spa pools for the adults. Bring your partner along and tag-team so you both get some time-out. Ask at your local pool about school holiday events including fun inflatables, movie nights and specials.
School holiday programmes
There’s an abundance of school holiday programmes to choose from offering everything from horse riding and snowsports to foreign language and music classes. Even if you don’t need childcare throughout the holidays, many school holiday programmes are flexible enough for you to sign the kids up for just one or two days, enabling the kids to have a great day out doing something fun with their peers. For a more budget-friendly alternative, local libraries often run school holiday activities with the added benefit of encouraging a love of reading. Don’t forget to sign out some books while you’re there for some quiet time at home.
Whether you’re heading to the cinema to escape the cabin fever or having a pyjama day at home with a DVD, movies are a great way to entertain the kids. You can also use the movie as inspiration for other activities like crafts, colouring in, role play or puppets.