School holidays are here, and New Zealand's spring weather can dish up four seasons in one day. Fear not, mother-of-two Danielle Wright offers some boredom-busting ideas.
Corner Kitchener St and Wellesley St, ph (09) 379 1349, entry is free. Open seven days, 10am to 5pm. If you'd like a few hours of good behaviour from your children, take them to the Auckland Art Gallery. There's a free learning centre where they'll be able to create dry-art pieces, artwork by Reuben Paterson, a "peep show" of Christmas-tree baubles, and kaleidoscopes. From 1-3pm on Saturday, there's a free family drop-in session where parents with children can create art.
Auckland Domain, Parnell, ph (09) 309 0443, $10 donation an adult and free for children under 15 and Aucklanders with proof of address. Some activities have an additional charge. Open seven days, 10am to 5pm. The live show Taniwha! features traditional and shadow puppetry, actors, animation and music.
Great North Rd, Western Springs, ph (09) 815 5800, open seven days from 10am to 5pm. Entry $35 for a family of two adults and up to four children. The Kiwis Can! experience invites kids to get hands-on with mini mountain climbing, farmyard animals, mini grand prix racing, gumboot throwing, and more. Motat's new Aviation Display Hall has interactive displays and rare film footage to watch.
Motions Rd, Western Springs, ph (09) 360 3805. Open seven days 9.30am to 5.30pm. Family pass $40 (one adult, two children) or $60 (two adults, two children). The Te Wao Nui experience has six zones to explore: the islands, the night, the high country, the coast, the wetlands and the forest.
Become a New Zooland Explorer (10am to 3pm) by collecting stickers as you learn more about our national treasures including the tuatara, kiwi and kea.
Time Out Theatre presents The Butcher and the Bear at The Edge. Join a bumbling bear, his best friend, a bird, a wise gypsy, a greedy butcher and a live gypsy band in a show packed with daring rescues, dangerous traps, magic, music and dancing. Until October 15, Aotea Centre, $15, ph (09) 357 3355 for bookings.
The Playhouse Theatre is putting on Jack and the Giant, a musical version of the classic tale. October 13-21, 15 Glendale Rd, Glen Eden. Adults, $16; children and senior citizens, $12. Bookings, ph (09) 361 1000.
The Pumphouse in Takapuna has Tim Bray theatrical adaptation of Lynley Dodd's Hairy Maclary. Kids in costume can go on stage and receive a free poster. Until October 22, Kilarney Park, Takapuna; $21 each but group discounts and early-bird specials are available. For bookings, ph (09) 489 8360.
Around the North Island
At the RealNZ Tauranga Festival, The Funky Monkeys, The Polkadots, Kiwi Kenn and Shavaugn will be entertaining kids at The Strand on October 13 and 14, two shows each day. Tickets $14.50.
Take a nocturnal tour of Hamilton City. Join bat scientist Darren Le Roux and explore Hammonds Park where you can go bat spotting using special bat detectors. You might even see glowworms and ruru (morepork).
Flights to Wellington or tickets on the Overlander train are cheap, so take the kids to "the coolest little capital in the world". You can visit the Wintergarden ice-skating rink, Te Papa, Wellington Zoo, Parliament and the Carter Observatory. Rydges Wellington has a special holiday package where children under 12 dine and stay free; there's a free Kidz Club onsite, too.