What do you have planned for the school holidays? Does it involve getting the kids out of the house and into nature?
“Green play” is a great way to keep the kids entertained for hours. It’s also essential for supporting happy, healthy minds and igniting a sense of wonderment.
Check out these activities to make the most of the school holidays:
1. Travel to another world
Roam with a robot, collect cute kittens or train a dragon with Magical Park 2 at 13 parks across Auckland. Released just in time for the school holidays, Magical Park 2 is a game that uses augmented reality to transform open park spaces into a digital fantasy land. Specifically made for children aged 6-11, the app augments the real-world with 3D digital images via a smartphone or tablet.
The parks hosting the app during these spring school holidays are:
- Onepoto Domain, Northcote
- Harbourview Peoples Park, Te Atatū Peninsula
- Barry Curtis Park, Flat Bush
- Coyle Park, Pt Chevalier
- Auckland Domain, Grafton (behind the museum)
- Bruce Pulman Park, Takanini
- Ray Small Park, Papakura
- Randwick Park, Manurewa
- Mountfort Park, Manurewa
- Milton Park, Papatoetoe
- Pearl Baker Reserve, Ōtara
- Imrie Park, Māngere
- David Lange Park, Māngere
2. Climb a volcano
Adventure through the green open spaces of One Tree Hill Domain (Maungakiekie) and up to the top of the 183m volcano. Here you’ll have panoramic views of the city and Manukau Harbour.
3. Go bush
Bush walking is an ideal family outing. Lush forest, native birds and waterfalls are just some of the things you can discover. Here are a few tracks to get you started:
- Fishermans Track at Tāwharanui Regional Park – enjoy a quick and easy walk to the south coast from the Anchor Bay car park. Enjoy the sounds of bellbirds and saddleback and the sight of grand, old puriri trees through the bush section. To return you can backtrack to Anchor Bay, but if you feel like a much longer walk you can continue along the South Coast Track or make your way down to Māori Bay (mid to low tide only). Follow the orange markers.
- Muriwai Lookout Track – this track winds past mature coastal bush to a platform looking out across some of the best views on the west coast. This is a great place for a spot of lunch.
- Nature Trail at Long Bay Regional Park – this track starts below the Vaughan Homestead and takes you away from the beach through wetland and beautiful, mature native forest. There’s also a good chance you’ll see native birds such as kererū and tūī along this walk. Follow the yellow markers.
4. Something indoors
If you’re not able to get out and about on one of these tracks, take the kids on an indoor nature walk at the central library. Enjoy a one hour digital auditory experience that whisks you from an urban environment to native bush. You can sit and meditate to the sound of birdsong or stroll the library floors to their tune.
You can also checkout Auckland Libraries’ Survive 24 school holidays programme. Practice your bivouac making skills at Central City Library; forage, create, build and test your nature survival skills at Mt Roskill Library; or join in with the Scouts at Pukekohe Library to learn how to survive in the great outdoors.
5. Visit the Arataki Visitor Centre
Take the kids to one of the workshops on offer at the Arataki Visitor Centre. Kids can learn about the wildlife that live in our forest or make their own forest gold. Visit the Arataki Visitor Centre Facebook for dates and pricing.
The Arataki Nature Trail is a great addition to any visit to the Arataki Visitor Centre and offers a beautiful introduction to the flora and fauna of the Waitākere Ranges. Make sure you protect our kauri for future generations and prevent the spread of kauri dieback by staying on the tracks and thoroughly cleaning your shoes (and your animal’s paws) with disinfectant at the designated cleaning stations.
6. Get creative
It’s also Mental Health Awareness Week this month (9-15 October) and the Mental Health Foundation is running a colouring competition to encourage children to get into nature – whether that’s your backyard at home or the local park down the road – to draw what they see, smell and hear. Or take part in the MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge and be in with the chance to win a Nikon camera worth $1299.
7. Want a bit of history with that nature?
Discover the stories and secrets of Auckland’s heritage at the Auckland Heritage Festival (30 September-15 October 2017). This year’s programme features some unmissable nature-related events for the whole whānau. Visit Auckland Heritage Festival for more events.
8. Gogh see some art
Take the kids to ‘Flora’, a free art exhibition at the Franklin Arts Centre exploring the beauty of the natural environment. This exhibition features photography, paintings, sculptural works, illustrations and a sensory garden, and is on display until 11 November 2017.
View our full list of school holiday events.