We have a beautiful summer upon us and though school and kindy are back in session, our kids’ appetite for leisure-time stimulation remains undimmed. Here’s your crowd-sourced-from-real-parents guide to Auckland with little ones.
Check out the Auckland Maritime Museum, one of Auckland’s most under-rated attractions for kids. Says one mum “it’s no cost for locals, it has mountains of things to explore, interactive displays and special kids areas, doesn’t matter if the weather is shite and you can even take the kids on the little tug boat for a spin in the harbor or watch the cannon go off each day”. It’s buggy friendly and has been described as “a solid two hours of guaranteed entertainment for kids”.
The Waterview Tunnel opened this year after years of construction. The tunnel itself is not an advisable place for children to play, but the park that was built as part of the concession to the community through which the new road scythed, Waterview Reserve, is A+. All your playground mod cons such as water cannons and sand diggers, along with a basketball court and skate/scooter/BMX course. If you’re in the neighbourhood, the Oakley Creek waterfall is a bit special.
For a beer and pub grub in the sun, Northcote Tavern has a big lawn with a couple of climbable trees (though it’s not fenced so not ideal for adventurous crawlers).
Cornwall Park is an amazing place to BBQ with a group of friends and loads of kids. One mother said: “A huge bonus is that it has plenty of shade, which is bloody necessary at the moment cos summmmaaah. It is free and cheap and it suits all age groups!”
If it’s raining, the trampoline rivals Uptown Bounce and Jump both have big parks off Rosebank Road in Avondale, which usually have better capacity than some of the others. For non-trampoline bouncing, check out Inflatable World in Mt Roskill, Glenfield or Manukau. It’s cheap and you can sit on the sidelines and drink coffee while watching your kids bounce their way into the best sleep they’ve ever had. Make sure you bring socks though. No socks, no bounce.
Western Springs Lakeside Park was described by one mum as “good if the duck poo has been cleaned off the paths”. It suits all ages – just watch out for aggressive geese. Nearby is Point Chevalier beach and Coyle Park. Frankly, there’s a lot nearby – Auckland Zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) are very close. There’s a brand new traditional Japanese garden with a waterfall, pond and tea pavilion. Find it near the entrance to the park off Motions Road.
The Grey Lynn Park playground and toddler pool is very popular – probably because it’s free and it’s lovely. The toddler pool is fully fenced and has some shade and its very own lifeguard in the summer. It’s open Monday to Sunday – 11am to 6pm each day. For the older kids, there’s a bike track, skate ramp and basketball court plus tennis courts on the further end of the park.
If you want the city kids’ version of the country, head to Kiwi Valley Farm in Henderson. The petting zoo bit if fine, but the horse rides are the main attraction and, unlike some other places, don’t cost anything above admission, so if the queue is short, your kid can basically go again and again. If that’s what they’re in to.
There’s something about kids running through water fountains that seems to be addictive. No matter how many times they do it, they want more. Sit on the grass at Potters Park in Mt Eden and watch while drinking your coffee/lunch from Kiss Kiss just over the road.
Sometimes, parents want to eat with their kids without having to cook first and clean up after sometimes. More than that, parents want to drink around their kids in a way which is not frowned upon socially, and preferably one in which their kids are near but not there. That’s where The Park at Whoa! Studios, Henderson, comes in. It’s a big, pretty and imaginatively-designed playground in five distinct parts, including a pirate cove, a rocket ship and, best of all, this giant, Japanese-designed crochet web. There are little trampolines nestled within it, lots of areas adults can’t really see into – it just looks like a very good time if you’re a kid is what I’m saying.
If you’re wanting to get out of the house early on a rainy weekend morning to give your significant other a sleep-in, go to the playground in an indoor mall. If you go during the hours when the supermarket’s open but the mall shops aren’t there’s usually no-one there and there’s less opportunity for your kid(s) to bug you into buying them shit on the way in and out. The one out at Sylvia Park is good.
If it’s raining and you’re desperate, just take your kid to Rebel Sports (or similar) and throw some basketballs or ride some skateboards around for a bit. It’s free, fun, and the 17-year-olds in charge don’t seem to care.
The Parnell Baths are also a good option in the rain; the warm saltwater pools are far less busy when its drizzling and the warm water means you don’t get cold. It’s also a great pool to take the kids to if you’re on your own – it’s big and has a large shallow area, so great for safe swimming. It’s also free for 16-year-olds and under, adults are $6.40.