These school holidays, whether you're entertaining the kids, the grandkids, the grown-ups, or all of the above, Aotearoa has plenty of activities to please the family come rain or shine, writes Kate Ford
Rain: Little literary fans will find lots to love at The Sky-High World of Beatrix Potter, on at the Sky Tower from April 17 until May 2, while older Potter fans can enjoy the nostalgia. Explore Mr McGregor's interactive English garden, listen to readings of Jemima Puddle-Duck and friends, and be sure to go on Sunday afternoons for Peter Rabbit visits.
Auckland War Memorial Museum always has plenty to offer for family visits, but the excitement is amplified these school holidays with the Brickman Awesome: Epic Lego Creations exhibition. Extended until May 2 due to popular demand, this unique exhibition features a life-sized Lego Harley Davidson, a detailed model of the DeLorean from Back to the Future, a 2.5m tall orca and much more.
Shine: Head east to Clevedon for a family day out that ticks a lot of boxes. Take a Sunday road trip and start the day with breakfast at Clevedon Farmers' Market. Enjoy the relaxed rural setting while you forage for fresh produce, while the kids enjoy tasty stall offerings and pony rides on fine days.
Pack a picnic filled with your haul from the market and head to the Hūnua Ranges. With a variety of walking tracks ranging in different lengths and grades, you'll find options to suit the whole family.
WAIKATO, TAUPŌ AND ROTORUA
Rain: Get the family buzzing and pay a visit to Taupō's Huka Honey Hive. With interactive and personalised tours, you can watch bees up close and learn how honey is made. Sample honey tastings, watch live beehive viewings, and stay for a bite at Cafe Hive@65.
If you're taking a family trip to Rotorua, don't miss the iconic Rainbow Springs - and if it's raining, take shelter in the National Kiwi Hatchery. Join a tour and watch kiwi eggs being incubated and coo over the newly-hatched chicks. The hatchery works with conservation groups from 15 forests around the country who find and collect kiwi eggs. The aim is to encourage the survival of the species and the money from every tour ticket goes back into the programme, which sees 130 kiwi eggs being hatched each year.
Shine: Take in the fresh autumn air on a family stroll on the Great Lake Pathway. Also known as Lion's Walk, this 10km lakefront and riverside track begins in Taupō Harbour and finishes up in Five Mile Bay. Marvel at the views across Lake Taupō to Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. With plenty of picnic and swimming spots around, this is a pretty idyllic way to while away a morning or afternoon, and stretch out the day with a coffee or icecream stop along the way.
For families that enjoy water activities, the Waikato is a rich bounty. From relaxed kayak tours to leisurely boat cruises, there are plenty of ways to explore the Waikato River or Lake Karapiro if you want to stretch out your sea legs.
BAY OF PLENTY
Rain: With lots of great cafes around, you're spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a breakfast spot in the Bay of Plenty. A good way to start the day could be ordering from the menu at Tauranga's Grindz cafe. With classic kid-friendly fare like pancakes and B.L.A.Ts, this cafe is a crowd pleaser, even for the pickier eaters in the group.
Check in to Mount Maunganui's Classic Flyers Aviation Museum for a day spent exploring historical aircraft. With multiple display hangars showcasing classic aircraft and vintage memorabilia, there's plenty to impress aviation enthusiasts of all ages.
Then take the family fun to new heights and add on a visit to the Mount's Aviator Experience and try out the military-grade flight simulators. Choose aircraft from World War II aircraft, or test out the latest in modern jet technology. There is a minimum age limit of 14, so this would be a good activity for the big kids.
Shine: There are plenty of beautiful walks around the Bay of Plenty, so hopefully the sun is shining and you can take your pick to soak up the spectacular scenery. Wander the tracks of Bowentown Domain and choose from various routes that show off the Kaimai Ranges and stunning ocean coastline. Pack a picnic and the togs as Anzac and Shelley bays offer prime swimming spots for a leisurely day the whole family will enjoy.
Walking around Mount Maunganui itself is always a must-do while visiting the Bay, and the 45-minute gentle track around the base offers the chance to see marine life like seals or little blue penguins. It'll make the family holiday even more memorable.
Rain: The Museum of Te Papa Tongarewa is a classic Welly activity, rain or shine, and for good reason. Gallipoli: The Scale Of Our War is exhibiting until April 2022, so if you haven't seen it yet, take this as a sign to book a visit. Due to the scale and nature of the exhibit, parental guidance is recommended, but this sombre piece of history will leave a strong impression.
Contemplate the universe on a trip to Carter Observatory and marvel at planets, galaxies, stars and constellations. The kids will enjoy interactive galleries and exhibits and, for extra excitement, stay up past bedtime for the Space Place late night, where there's a chance to view the southern skies through the Thomas Cooke telescope.
Shine: Nature fans will find plenty to love at Zealandia, the world's first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary. It's home to more than 40 rare species of native wildlife, so keep an eye out for birds like kākāriki and takahē, spot tuatara, or visit after dark for a stunning display of glow worms and kiwi.
Continue the nature theme and enjoy leisurely walks around Catchpool Valley, the most popular entrance to the Remutaka Forest Park. Stroll along the Orongorongo Track, an easy-grade walk that suits families. Make a day of it on the two-hour route (one way, so shorten the trip as needed) and take in the tranquillity of Catchpool Stream, nīkau palms, ferns, and groves of large rātā trees.
Rain: For a cool way to spend the day in Christchurch, rug up and visit the International Antarctic Centre. Learn about the first expeditions to the icy continent, immerse yourself in an Antarctic storm experience, make friends with penguins and even go behind the scenes to see how these flightless friends live.
For families that enjoy museum hopping, be sure to spend some time at Canterbury Museum. There's plenty to occupy all ages with exhibitions including natural and human history collections, from Fred and Myrtle's Pāua Shell House to Egyptian mummy, Tash Pen Khonsu.
Shine: Akaroa is rich in nature and marine wildlife, so what better way to spend a day than soaking up the splendour of the region. Enjoy the beautiful bush reserve that is the Garden of Tāne. With gentle walks, native birds and views of the harbour, this is a peaceful way to spend a few hours. If you'd rather spend time at sea, there are many cruise operators offering tours to see penguins, dolphins and seals, so shop around for the best option for your family.
No family trip to Akaroa is complete without a visit to the Giant's House. Named as a Garden of International Significance, this attraction features sculptures, a mosaic garden and a gallery. A feast for the eyes, the Giant's House was built in the late 19th century and showcases just as many interesting features indoors as outside.
Rain: It may be a bit early to start making snowballs, but that's okay because there is plenty to do in Otago outside of the ski season. For a unique day out, look no further than Wānaka's Puzzling World. With illusion rooms and a Great Maze, brain teasers and puzzles, there'll be lots of family laughs on a visit here.
Hit the road and enjoy the bold beauty of Arrowtown. There are plenty of cafes to fill hungry bellies after a road trip, and stop by the Lakes District Museum and learn about the region's history while the kids join a museum treasure hunt. While in Arrowtown, visit the Remarkable Sweet Shop for something to sweeten the journey.
Shine: Step aboard Queenstown icon the TSS Earnslaw for, arguably, some of the best alpine scenery in the world. Spend 90 minutes cruising across Lake Wakatipu on board the only working hand-fired steamship in the Southern Hemisphere.
Those travelling further east can enjoy many family-friendly activities in Dunedin. Check out Otago Museum's science show - on daily during the school holidays - where kids can enjoy interactive demonstrations. Hold and release a butterfly into the forest with the twice-daily tropical forest demonstration, or take it all in with a family tour, featuring intrepid museum guides. Children will be given a magnifying glass, compass and notebook as they explore the hidden corners of the museum.