Rain or shine, when you're staying home for the holidays it's a good idea to plan a few boredom-busting day trips and activities. Here are our suggestions around Auckland:
For the first time in the Easter Show's 169-year history, children under 12 will have free entry (three children per one paying adult). Sights include Zirka Circus, the 100 per cent Kylie Show, The WotWots and Moshi Monsters, plus Looney Tunes characters.
Other attractions include the classic lumberjack show, the strong-man competition, champion farm and domestic animals, wine and art shows, fireworks every night and carnival rides.
ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane. April 5-9, 10am-10pm (Thur-Sun), 10am-6pm (Mon). Tickets from ticketek.co.nz - kids 12 and under free. Adults $25, students (with I.D.) $10. New entrance is at Puriri Drive end of the showgrounds.
A walk around Auckland Art Gallery could be just the remedy for rainy autumn days. For ages 5 and over, there are paid holiday workshops. Family drop-ins on Saturday from 1-3pm take their cue from the Degas to Dali exhibition. Here, families can create side-by-side, or ask for the gallery's family survival kit for tips on how to get the most out of your visit.
Corner Kitchener and Wellesley streets, open 10am-5pm, entry free. Workshop sessions are $12 per 5-year-old or $16 for older children 6-12. Check the website for availability and times or call (09) 367 1930 to book.
Workshops: Keeping a Nature Journal ($20 or $15 for members), or Weird and Wonderful Picture Books ($15), show children how to turn museum specimens into picture-book characters. Every Wednesday a Kids' Safari Toddler session will include storytelling, drama, music and craft. For ages 6 and up, a special 200th birthday celebration of Sir George Grey runs on holiday weekdays at 11.30am, 1pm and 2pm ($5) involving a treasure hunt.
Event developer Jo Brookbanks says: "The storytelling that goes with the treasure hunt is really the best part; it helps children understand that the collections in the museum aren't just static objects, they're connected to great moments in history and tell us about how things have changed and how the city has taken shape."
Auckland Domain, Parnell, Tel: (09) 306 7048 for bookings. Open seven days, 10am-5pm. $10 donation, or free for Aucklanders with proof of address.
Motat (Museum of Transport & Technology)
Crazy Contraptions is Motat's Easter school holiday theme. There will be a flying fox showcasing the magic of pulleys, catapults demonstrating the mechanics of levers and a railway hand jigger running around the grounds. Kids and parents can also help make a Rube Goldberg machine, which is when a very simple task is performed by a machine in a very complicated way.
Great North Rd, Western Springs, Tel: (09) 815 5800, open 10am-5pm, seven days a week. Entry $35 for a family of two adults and up to four children, $14 adults, $8 children under 16 and students, $7 senior citizens and free for children under 5, $35 family pass.
The zoo is bringing Dr Seuss' The Lorax to life on the Truffula Trail, where children will receive a two-for-one child movie voucher to see The Lorax at Event Cinemas, plus native NZ seeds to plant at home.
Motions Rd, Western Springs, Tel: (09) 360 3805. Open 9.30am-5.30pm, last admissions 4.15pm, seven days a week. $22 for adults and children over 15, $11 for children, free for under 4s. Seniors and students $18; family pass $40 (one adult, two children) or $60 (two adults, two children).
Tim Bray's outdoor moveable theatre features Wind in the Willows at Lake Pupuke's Pumphouse Theatre, The Hare and the Tortoise is nearby at the Bruce Mason Centre, Sinarella ( a bit like Cinderella, only a whole lot fresher) is at Mangere Arts Centre, Ben 10 Live is at ASB Theatre, We Built This City (where performers act as construction workers while children build with boxes) is at Aotea Square. How to Train Your Dragon is on at Vector Arena.
Check in at your local library to find out about storytimes with taniwha, dragons and fairies, crafts to make your own mythical creature, quizzes and scavenger hunts so children know a library is a fun place to hang out.
A giant Easter egg hunt will be held in the maze with the Easter Bunny hiding eggs every day on the Easter weekend. On Sunday night (7-9pm) there will be an Easter egg hunt (bring your torch), otherwise the egg hunt time is 11am-2pm.
833 Kingseat Rd, Karaka, Tel: (09) 291 9002. Open 10am-5pm until April 29. $12 adults; $8 child. Easter Egg Hunt is $35 family of two adults and two children.
It's baby animal season at Kelly Tarlton's through the school holidays. Meet the aquarium babies - penguin chicks, carpet sharks, sea turtles and more, including the world's first baby spiny sea dragons on display. Kids can complete the Animal Babies Trail and go in the draw to win prizes. All paying children will receive a free penguin egg toy. 23 Tamaki Dr, Orakei, ph 0800 805050. Open 9.30am-5.30pm daily. Adults $34, Children $17 or buy online for a 10 per cent discount.