Flight of fancy: A day making puppets at the Pourakahua Pōneke Whānau Show, at Wellington’s Library and Te Papa. Photo / Supplied
It’s about now your list of indoor activities is probably wearing thin.
There’s nothing better than fresh air for tiring out the kids during the school hols. But let’s face it: the July holidays are known for their unpredictability.
If you’re in need of inspiration to tear kids away from their screens, we’ve done some blue-sky thinking to find the best under-cover activities in New Zealand cities.
Here’s our guide to New Zealand’s great indoors for children of all ages:
Water, water everywhere. If the weather has put a dampener on your plans, you can take inspiration from some epic ocean voyages.
This week the Maritime Museum is helping children navigate by the stars for the Matariki school holiday programme. Temporary star dome to find out how some of the greatest sailors in history got around the Pacific in total darkness.
If inspiration and weather allows, hour-long trip into the Waitematā harbour under the sails of the Ted Ashby Heritage scow.
Activities from $5 per child
Pack light, at the end of the tram tracks the Museum of Transport is inviting families to go glamping. Kids are invited to construct their own paper camper under the guaranteed good weather of the Motat hanger.
There’s a chance to have a look at the museum’s permanent collection of planes including the M4 Solent flying boat, which provided the very first Transtasman bubble.
For less prim and proper activities, kids can muck in at the special event: Poo, You, and Very Tiny Things. See tiny insects, microbes and (fake) poo under a microscope.
Normal MOTAT admission fees apply. Under 5s enter free.
If you want to tire out the family physically as well as mentally, there are a selection of indoor playgrounds around town.
Come rain – or shine – the Inflatable World’s warehouse of bouncy castles is enough to stop mid-holiday deflation. There are a couple in town, with branches in New Plymouth, Christchurch and Dunedin if you’re hopping around these holidays.
The slightly younger-focused My Wonderland Playground is aimed at toddlers and kids up to 11 years old, with slides and climbing frames.
Don’t get worn down by the Wellington bluster, get out of the wind and.
Great treasures of Te Papa and Toi Art are go-tos for the city. The natural history exhibition Te Taiao invites you to explore New Zealand’s wild treasures from the comfort of the national museum. Have a seismic experience in Quakehouse or meet the world’s only “colossal squid” on display.
Their exhibitions are inexhaustible. But just in case you need something a bit more hands on to stop attention from wandering, a programme of school holiday events have been drafted in.
This includes a pre-school dance workshops with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and a day of puppet making, waiata learning, and a performance of Pourakahua – Aotearoa’s mythical bird person.
Art of the city at Capital E
Looking to spark some creative ideas and rethink the Wellington skyline, the temporary exhibition Where the Art Is invites kids to do some urban planning and draw the future of the city’s buildings.
International Antarctic Centre
If you can’t summon the courage to head out of your tent, the International Antarctic Centre can put things into perspective for you. Welcome to the Storm Dome. The interactive exhibit is the closest you’ll want to get to a katabatic blizzard.
Foul weather is no excuse for not venturing outside. The centre also runs daily Hägglund tours. Kids 5 and up are welcome to take a ride in this caterpillar-tracked Antarctic tank which – as you will find out – can conquer ANY terrain.
If you don’t want to sit in the back seat, Supa Karts’ indoor raceway runs rain or shine. Family races are available for those wanting some practice. Junior carts for ages 8 and up and specially-built tandem carts for parents with children over 5 to take to the track.
Sure beats the school run.
Skydiving is normally a fair weather sport. However the indoor skydiving centre
on Brecon Street never takes a rain check. iFly welcomes flyers ages 5 and over to experience weightlessness and the thrill of the wind in your jumpsuit.
It’s also perfect for those with a fear of heights, given it takes place over two metres, rather than the customary 3000.
If you’re not all jumped out, head to SITE Trampoline. New Zealand’s largest indoor trampoline and foam-pits, the centre is perfect for burning off excess energy or more constructive lessons.
A school holiday programme offers trampolining, gymnastics and skateboarding tuition. At $49 per day, aimed at classes of 5 and over these sessions will help kids gain confidence and master the trickiest of tricks.
A dedicated foam pit and trampoline for “mini-bouncers”, allows parents to take younger children for an anti-gravity adventure.