Our writers give their tips for family-friendly fun these school holidays.
1 If you've got under-8s, I'd recommend taking them to see Tim Bray Productions The Great White Man-eating Shark (and other Margaret Mahy stories) at the Pumphouse in Takapuna (daily at 10.30am and 2pm until Saturday, July 21) and then having a wander round Lake Pupuke or heading down to Takapuna Beach for a walk/run/argument about whether they can go swimming in the sea in the depths of winter. Hamilton Zoo is great foraday trip, especially if you live in South Auckland and makes a change from Auckland Zoo. The Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa are really under-rated.
2 Reikorangi Pottery, Park and Cafe on the Kapiti Coast is the most amazing, eclectic place, the likes of which I've not seen anywhere else in New Zealand.
The owners (Jan and Wilf Wright) have lived there for 60 years, where they were working potters for decades.
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They have a very rustic animal park next to the beautiful river and a cafe where it feels like you have walked into yesteryear. It is crammed full of art, antiques, trinkets and a completely non-contrived, homely feeling. Nothing is done in a rush, you feel like you have walked into someone's house. There are historic photos on the wall, pottery on every shelf, Jan's late mum's baby grand piano sits in the corner, cats sleep on the chairs by the open Victorian-looking fireplace, the food is homemade (scones with jam and cream recommended) and flocks of birds (looking for the food pellets visitors can feed to animals in the park) crowd round when you walk outside. Nothing is slick, modern or perfect, which makes it perfect. The Reikorangi Valley is an idyllic, rural place and when you are there you feel like you are miles from anywhere. The kids love roaming around the park, feeding the animals (including Oink, the super-cute kune kune piglet) and then coming in to warm up and stuff themselves on scones.
3 I reckon Butterfly Creek is awesome. It does cost money, but there is heaps to see and do. Kiwi, crocs, tarantulas, butterflies (obviously), otters, the petting zoo, the cool dinosaur area. It is also pretty good rain or shine. Our niece and nephew, who visit from Palmerston North, love it there.