1 Zombie Survival Challenge (ZSC)
We've been waiting for the zombie apocalypse since the 60s. But don't fret, you can immerse yourself in your own apocalypse for the night, in Auckland. Zombie Survival Challenge is a course that will test your inner grit and have you chewing your fingers off, coming up with strategies to avoid being munched by a pack of hungry zombies in pitch black. The course, designed by ex-military, focuses on surviving experienced zombie performers - a mix of ex-military, psych nurses and actors. A Saturday night challenge takes willing souls into an Auckland wasteland, where you're given a briefing, mission, training and then let loose. In the dark woods. With zombies. ZSC takes group bookings and also runs pop-up challenges at the Easter Show and Rainbow's End during Halloween. If you want to test how far your scream travels, then this is for you.
Saturday 6-11pm. $90 per person, minimum 25+ (discounts apply if you get the numbers up, max 100).
There's nothing like hearing a few space facts - such as the Milky Way is 100,000 light years in diameter - to be reminded of your insignificance on this small planet of ours. Stardome asks the big questions about space travel, solar systems and what's out there. During an hour in their 360-degree immersive theatre, you'll be taken on a virtual tour of the night sky while you recline in a comfy chair. You'll be led through the current [autumn] sky seeing constellations you don't see in summer. Or, if you want the ultimate galactic experience, pay another $10 and look into the universe through the large Zeiss Telescope up in the dome. It's super-powerful and takes your eyes further into space where you can find nebulae, planets, clusters, galaxies and entire star systems. Nebulae are exploding clouds of helium gas that are nothing to the naked eye, but through Zeiss they're a trippy mass painted by the Wizard of Oz himself.
Adult $15, children $12. Zeiss is an $10 extra.
3 Kelly Tarlton's
If you've ever wondered whether sharks sleep, spend a night underneath them and find out for yourself. Kelly Tarlton's has sleepovers with options to settle down in a tunnel with fish, rays, octopus, seahorses and sharks swimming above you, or elsewhere on the mezzanine floor where you can gaze at nearby tanks. During the stay, you'll spend time with New Zealand's only colony of subantarctic penguins, the mighty kings and playful gentoos in their snow-filled enclosure. Plus you'll feed fish, watch the stingrays have their dinner, visit the animal quarantine area to see who else is having a temporary stay, and check out the tunnels from above. There are also the displays and interactive exhibits to explore from the Shark Tank, Stingray Bay, Antarctic Ice Adventures, Shipwreck Shores and the Seahorse Kingdom. And then there's the fish. Lots of tropical fish, gigantic eels and crays. At night, the lights are dimmed so it's not so bright, plus it's quite toasty and warm and there are hot drinks to help the adults through it all. And when you wake up and realise you forgot to watch if the sharks sleep (they don't slumber like humans but some rest their bodies briefly) you'll have breakfast and chat about it. Kelly Tarlton's no longer offers individual family passes but takes bookings via their education programme, with 30 people minimum. Schools can apply at kellytarltons.co.nz/schools
4 Marae Sleepover at Te Hana Te Ao Marama
Most people freak out about the idea of sleeping in one gigantic room with so many others - the snoring, the stinky feet, the midnight sleepwalkers! But a night on a marae is more natural than being with sharks or zombies, and humans have slept in shared spaces for centuries. It's surprisingly peaceful, especially at Te Hana Te Ao Marama's "big house" (Te Mahurehure), which has beautiful star-like ceiling lights, and seeing everyone getting into bed in their PJs is a great leveller. But it's not just the sleepover, a visit to Te Hana is about cultural immersion, learning Maori protocol, including a powhiri, experiencing a hangi cooked in the earth (Papatuanuku), and understanding marae life. You're entertained by the kapa haka group and will learn a waiata. Plus there's traditional weaving (raranga), tattooing (ta moko) and carving (whakairo) to witness, and their story to listen to. Six years ago, the small community of Te Hana was struggling and had a big idea to create Te Hana Te Ao Marama, a place that gave back to the Ngati Te Hana tribe. After countless hours from volunteers, they pulled it off and their enterprise is now eco-accredited, very busy and giving back to local whanau. They hosts groups including schoolchildren and are focused on education first, tourism second. When asked what's important, Ngati Te Hana, say "He tangata. He tangata. He tangata" ("it is people, it is people, it is people").
Bookings of 20+
5 Kingseat Spookers
Spookers is a theatrically-charged place where the entertainment is you, having the life scared out of you as you propel yourself through a maze and house full of creepy sets and props. With blood-curdling butchers, tortured souls seeping through the floorboards, so-sad babies, psychedelic clowns that make your head swivel, and chainsaws chasing you, you'll be jumping well after you've left.
Strictly R16, on Friday and Saturday nights, there's a bar to warm up your bloodstream before you dive into hell on earth (or hell in Kingseat). They're currently running an R8 night for children, Creepers, Thursdays until April 19. The Super Scare is the best value and the Haunted House is the long-running favourite. The CornEvil forest opens again in May.
Double scare (two attractions): $40. Super Scare (all attractions): $55.
6 Snort Comedy
Forget whatever you think you know about improv - all those silly TV shows with cringey gestures and flared nostrils - Snort is on-the-spot, made-up skits and scenes by some of New Zealand's best comedians. Using Amy Poehler's New York-style called Asssscat (don't ask), you can trust the material at Snort's always topical, fresh and relentlessly funny. Your stomach muscles are guaranteed to get a workout and there's good reason why this show has been running every Friday for nearly four years. During March, they've got a double whammy: two shows, one night. Make sure you stick around for the post Snort party where the Snorters continue to riff about strange and wondrous things but with stiff drinks in their hands.
10pm, The Basement Theatre. $12- $15. Extra Show 11pm on March 16 and 23.
Feed the night fever
LATE NIGHT EATING
If you've worked up an appetite after all that spooking or laughing or screaming, remember the White Lady never lets you down. This stalwart of late-night toasting and flipping has been feeding burgers to revellers since 1948. Open between 7pm Friday and 3am Monday.
Or the night markets are always a feast for the taste buds and eyes. The undercover locations mean they are always on, and usually packed. Make sure you take cash so you can try different flavours from around the world. Each varies in what they loosely describe as "entertainment" (buskers, magicians, dance troupes) but the people-watching alone is entertaining. Tuesday to Sunday between 5-5.30pm to 11pm-midnight at various locations from Shortland St, to Henderson, to Papatoetoe.
LATE NIGHT (OR EARLY MORNING) DANCING
If you'd prefer to bust out some dance moves then get to Karangahape Rd. You can shake your tush until 2am at The Love Bucket, Bulls & Bears, Red Bar and 309 K Road. Bar 69 lets you dance until 3am, with Neck of the Woods, Charlie's Bar, Family Bar and Ink Bar pumping until 4am.