If the weather's good enough, Auckland schoolgirls Amy and Emma Gernhoefer may get to ride their scooters along the waterfront tomorrow instead of going to school.

Amy, 10, and Emma, 7, are among 468,000 primary, intermediate and special school students whose teachers will be on strike, in most cases leaving parents, grandparents and others to look after them.

Their mum Carol Gernhoefer, who runs a website called Auckland for Kids, said they would probably go to their favourite playgrounds, or perhaps to the museum.

"Their ideal day, if the weather is good, is to go for a scooter ride along the waterfront and visit their favourite parks," she said.


"If you ask them what's on their list, it would be like, 'Can we go to Rainbow's End?' I'd be like, 'No, we went there last month.'

"I haven't planned our day. We may pop along to the museum for a bit, but if the weather is good we'll probably go outside."

A few places around the country have organised something special for the strike. Wellington Zoo has already sold out all 30 places for a fun day modelled on its school holiday programmes.

"Kids can learn about the animals and help make little parcels where the animals have to figure out how to get in to get some treats," said marketing manager Zel Lazarevich.

In Auckland, council spokesman Michael Smith said one-day holiday programmes would run at West Wave in Henderson, Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa in Māngere, Allan Brewster Pool in Papatoetoe and Howick Leisure Centre.

But others, such as Auckland Museum, have not organised anything special because no one was sure until the last minute that the strike would go ahead.

"Our butterflies exhibition is aimed at probably early primary school," said communications manager Nicole O'Brien. "It's a great place to take kids.

"There's also a large digital wall where kids (and adults) can create their own unique digital butterfly and set it free in the digital garden, which has been hugely popular."

Emma Gernhoefer built a cardboard house for the Pillars to Post exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery. Photo / Carol Gernhoefer
Emma Gernhoefer built a cardboard house for the Pillars to Post exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery. Photo / Carol Gernhoefer

Gernhoefer took her girls recently to a Pillars to Post exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery, open until September 16, where visitors can build their own small cardboard houses.

A giant-sized, interactive Bug Lab at Auckland Zoo, created by Te Papa and Weta Workshop, is open until August 26.

"It's separate to going into the zoo, you can just go to that if it's a wet day," Gernhoefer said.

She said one of the best new playgrounds in Auckland has been created on the Royal Rd Reserve in Beauchamp Drive, Massey.

"There's a bike track, a ginormous big slide, climbing frames, all sorts of things," she said.

Amy, right, and Emma Gernhoefer enjoy the new Royal Rd Reserve playground at Westgate. Photo / Carol Gernhoefer
Amy, right, and Emma Gernhoefer enjoy the new Royal Rd Reserve playground at Westgate. Photo / Carol Gernhoefer

Other favourite playgrounds for her girls are at Takapuna Beach and Onepoto Domain on the North Shore.

Keryn Grogan of the Parenting Place, whose husband Sean will take a day off work to look after their 6-year-old son Daniel, said Daniel would probably want to go back to school, which is nearby, to play in the playground.

"Sean is more of a make-up-plans-as-they-come-along kind of guy," she said.

"My son will probably want to go outside and play kick with him on the lawn. Or play some board games like Comet and Battleship."

She urged parents to do "something out of the ordinary".

"It's an opportunity to create a memory."

The MetService is forecasting showers over most of the country, with rain from Wairarapa to Canterbury gradually clearing during the day and a fine day in Otago and Southland.

Q&A: What's at stake?

Q. Why are primary teachers striking?

A. They say they need a big pay rise and better working conditions to attract more Kiwis into teaching. Numbers starting teacher training are cyclical, but last year were 28 per cent below the last good economic period in 2008, and 35 per cent of Auckland primary schools now have unfilled vacancies.

Q. Can we afford to satisfy them?

A. Their claimed 16 per cent pay claim alone would cost $296m a year, plus a further $200m or so when it flows through to secondary teachers who lodged their own pay claims last week. That's comparable with the $500m cost of pay rises for nurses agreed to last week.

The Ministry of Education says the primary teachers' other claims, such as reduced teacher/student ratios, would cost a further $291m a year.

But the Government has pledged to keep to strict budget limits, so every extra dollar for teachers is a dollar less for other priorities such as housing and mental health.

Q. So how can we fix the teacher shortage?

A. Secondary teachers have asked for a housing allowance of $100 a week targeted at teachers renting, or in their first three years paying a mortgage, in high-rent areas. Only about 12 per cent of teachers would qualify, so it would be cheaper than a general pay rise, at about $9.5m a year.

Ministers may also consider measures targeted directly at recruiting trainees, such as more scholarships or even paid studentships, alongside their broader policy of fees-free tertiary education.