Superb Summer Fun on a Budget

Summer! We wait out the long, cold winter and impatiently pass through spring to reach the ultimate time as a Kiwi kid – summer school holidays!

Make the most of the summer with our guide to fun and frugal things to do with the kids and make those amazing summer memories without breaking the bank.

1. Active kids are happy kids

Kidspot’s Activity Finder literally has hundreds and hundreds of fun games, crafts and activities for all ages. Try some fun science experiments, play a new pool game, create your own playdough or bubble mixture, reminisce with some old-fashioned games and so much more!

2. Take up a sport

Some sports clubs offer have-a-go sessions during school holidays for kids wanting to give a new activity a try. Or just grab a friend and head to the park or courts to practice some skills.

3. Have a movie night

Choose a favourite movie or a new DVD for a special film screening for family and friends. Kids can create their own movie posters and tickets for entry. Bake some yummy movie snacks (don’t forget the popcorn!) and sell for play money at a concession stand made from a large box or small table. You can even have a theme and dress up for added fun. Or share around a few funny props like hats, glasses and wigs, for fun pre-movie selfies of your guests. Then lower the lights and show guests to their seats by torchlight.

4. Visit a garden

Beautiful botanic gardens can be found in most cities with spaces, sculptures and structures to explore. Most also have a children’s playground and many offer free activities for families during summer. Towns will also usually have a domain or open space for the public so enjoy the natural surroundings, plan a picnic, take a football, bike the paths or feed the ducks.

5. Start a family fun jar

Buy a large glass jar or repurpose one from home (just wash and remove the labels). Using a piece of paper, create a ‘Family Fun Jar‘ label and glue this to the jar. Choose a range of fun activities; a picnic, hopscotch, trip to the zoo, pizza making, play a card game, etc. Write each one on a small piece of paper so you have one for every day of the holidays, fold them and pop them into your decorated jar. Every other day, take turns at choosing an activity to do together.

6. Camp out under the stars … or in the living room!

If you’re unable to get away for a few nights vacation, then pop up the tent and let the kids camp out in the backyard. Toast some marshmallows on a brazier (check your local fire regulations!), tell some campfire stories and don’t forget the obligatory game of spotlight. Or just construct a fort in the lounge, throw in the sleeping bags and pillows and share out some glowsticks for some fun in the dark.

7. Throw a garden tea party

Time for tea! Throw a table cloth over an outdoor table in a shady spot and decorate your backyard with balloons or paper chains. Set up a tea party for your child and a few little friends with a toy tea-set (be sure to include favourite teddies on the invite list). Bake some special treats like cute cupcakes or browse our Kids Cooking section for more easy treats.

8. Turn trash to treasure

Collect up odds and ends like coloured card, ribbons, egg cartons, bottles, etc into a ‘treasure’ box. Add some craft essentials like paint, crayons, glue and glitter and kids can make all sorts of wonderful creations from the contents. Extend the fun by creating games, ie paint the inside of empty plastic bottles to create your own ten pin bowling game or make a super-sized marble run using empty foil and cling film rolls.

9. Hit the beach for the day

Grab your togs, towels, hats and chilly bin for a full day of fun at the beach. Pack a bat and ball for beach cricket, sand spades and buckets for sandcastle making and lots of sunscreen! Explore the rockpools, splash in the waves and don’t forget to treat the kids to an ice-cream before heading home.

10. Get gardening!

The kids will love to grow their very own vegetables or flowers. Give them their own area to tend, water and cultivate. They can even include an area for a magical fairy garden.

Don’t forget, whenever the family is outside in the summer sun, remember to slip, slop, slap and wrap and supervise children around water.

What’s your best tip for budget summer fun?

See more:

her world julieWritten by Julie Scanlon

Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire. 

Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”


  1. SarahBlair 08/03/2020 at 3:54 pm

    I love these ideas, we have visited parks, the library, watched movies and gone to the beach but you can only do these things so many times before they get old, new ideas to keep the kids entertained for free or cheap are always welcomed!

  2. Alezandra 06/03/2020 at 10:32 pm

    Oh the activity finder is a cool place to check into when you’re looking for some new activities to do with the kids. I enjoyed the kids cooking ideas as well as this is something I enjoy doing with my son. We love baking and even making sushi.

  3. MuddledUpMolly 01/03/2020 at 1:20 pm

    I love these ideas! We only come from a relatively small town but we have loads of options available to us locally for the kids to visit and experience. I know the kids would love to have a lounge sleepover so might have to look into doing that for the next school holidays.

  4. Mands1980 27/02/2020 at 9:12 pm

    Our family loves to go to the beach it’s free and take the little bbq and cook lunch sausages and bread or patties it’s the simple things kids love and remember. My son could spend hours with a spade and dig holes and make sandcastles and swim as well. I have a garden as well and they love helping in it by getting vegetables and weeding they are a great help. I love all the ideas mentioned too.

  5. Jen_Wiig 27/02/2020 at 1:36 pm

    These are great… Most we do quite often esp over holidays as our budget so so tight… I loved the family fun jar idea that’s deff inspired me to create one with my boys and some age apporiate activities and ideas.
    My best tip is every week during the cooler months put even just $2 away and a couple weeks before summer holidays count up what you’ve saved then come up with some ideas of what can be done or use it in one big special trip somewhere that you may not normally do.

  6. Micht 25/02/2020 at 9:40 pm

    Ooohh i love these ideas… and even though we are all back to school i think we can still make this work on the weekend…the outdoor camping is cool as well as the outdoor picnic…my girls would lose their minds in excitement…thank u for the great ideas… we need this

  7. Shorrty4life1 25/02/2020 at 11:12 am

    What great ideas for summer.i love the kidspot activity finder how cool is this for ideas on fun things to do. Best tip for budget summer fun is to do things that cost nothing like as a family we go to the beach and build sandcastles or we go to the river and teach the children how to skim stones. It’s the little things in life that are the most fun and don’t cost anything.

  8. Bevik1971 14/02/2020 at 10:00 am

    We only went out of town once during the long school holidays, to my Dad’s place in Central Otago. Was great although we just relaxed it was nice to be away. When we were at home we did things like visit the local Chinese Gardens, Art Gallery, went to the Botanic Gardens for a picnic, went to the beach. It was relaxing but enjoyable

Leave A Comment