How to keep the kids entertained during the summer school holidays

Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

After a tumultuous year of online classes and Covid lockdowns, Kiwi kids - and parents - have finally made it to the summer holidays.

And while your plans for a family holiday may have been affected by travel restrictions this year, there's no reason your kids can't have a fun-filled summer - here are 10 activities to help keep them busy these school holidays.

Camping in NZ's backyard

You may not be able to take the kids on an overseas trip this summer, but that doesn't mean you can't travel - and camping anywhere in NZ is a great way to show the kids around our very own backyard. Here's the best Kiwi campsites throughout the country. So pack your tent and bug spray, pile into the car and head off on an adventure with the kiddos.

Brickman Awesome: Epic LEGO Creations exhibition, Auckland Museum

Eager fans of Brickman's (Ryan McNaught) show Lego Masters can flock to this exhibition of his creations at Auckland Museum running from December 3 to February 28, 2021. From a life-size Lego Harley-Davidson to a gigantic killer whale, there's something here for every Lego lover. Tickets start at $15.

Motat Christmas lights

The Christmas light display at Motat draws crowds every year, and with many residential areas canning the Christmas lights tradition this year, you can head here for your festive fix with everything from Christmas movies to tram rides to carols. The impressive lights are on display until Christmas Eve, so you can wander around with the kids, hot choccy in hand. Entry to Christmas Lights: $5 for adults (16+), $2 for children (5 to 15) and under 5s enter for free.

Outdoor movies

Summer nights are the perfect setting for a family trip to see an outdoor movie. They can also be a socially-distanced holiday activity. Auckland's Movies in Parks series will kick off again in early January 2021, with the movie titles soon to be revealed. Elsewhere in NZ, Black Barn OpenAir Cinema in Hawke's Bay reopens from December 27-30 and January 2-6.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Christchurch

Countless baby animals join the family at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch each year, from gibbons to goats. Keepers say that ducklings, lambs and chicks are the most popular with the kids around this time of year.

Pick your own strawberries

The whole family can enjoy the fruits of their labour after a day spent picking strawberries in the sun. At Zaberri in Riverhead near Kumeu, you can spend the afternoon picking your own fruit and then watch it get made into real fruit icecream.

Classic Kiwi beach day

There's no better summer holiday activity than a trip to the beach, wherever you are in New Zealand. Why not travel a bit further and make a day out of it? If you haven't visited all of these beaches yet, here are the best ones to tick off the bucket list this summer.

Kelly Tarlton's

Kelly Tarlton's is always a favourite with the kids, but this summer they can take a deep dive into their favourite sea creatures with the Teeth & Tails adventure. From Saturday, December 19 to Saturday, January 31, kids can explore the sea life with activity booklets, colouring-in, origami, and more.

The Teeth & Tails experience will teach them all kinds of fun facts, from how the tuatara has a different mouth to any other reptile to how a seahorse's tail gets its curly shape. The aquarium is open all week during the school holidays and tickets must be booked in advance.

Christmas scavenger hunt, Te Papa, Wellington

If you have an aspiring sleuth in the family, then they'll love this (free!) Christmas-themed scavenger hunt at Te Papa in Wellington with weekly prize draws. The clues on the museum's social media channels will reveal the changing weekly location of a fairy door hidden inside Te Papa.

The prizes up for grabs include a family pass to World of Wearable Art Up Close, a book bundle from Te Papa Press, a family pass to the Cinderella pantomime at Circa Theatre, and a Christmas hamper from Te Papa Store.

Auckland Zoo

Another one for the animal lovers, Auckland Zoo is a classic summer holiday activity. You can sign up for some close encounters with your kids' favourite animals and meet all the babies born at the zoo over the spring. Pack plenty of water bottles, don't forget to take your camera and finish off the day with an iceblock in the shade.

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.