Outdoor activities are a great way to keep the kids entertained and to help them to burn off energy. This is especially important during the school holidays when the weather is a bit iffy. We’ve compiled 23 free, or low cost, outdoor activity ideas for your kids, to keep their bodies, and their imagination, moving.

Kid’s are used to the structure of outdoor play at school and kindergarten. And when this structure changes during the holidays, they get real fidgety, real quick!

You can do many outdoor activities for free or at a low cost. It shouldn’t cost you a fortune to get outside and have fun with your kids. Just remember, your kid’s creativity and imagination is set free when we don’t create too much structure to their play.

Here are some great ideas for fun things for the kids to do outdoors, and for you to do as a family, with a focus on school-aged children.

23 free, or low-cost, outdoor activities for kids

Activities around the home

  • Splash in an outdoor paddling pool or water slide, play with the hose, or run through the sprinkler.
  • Have a fun fight with water balloons/water guns/foam dart guns.
  • Get old boxes out of the recycling and destroy them – jump on them, cut them, or tear them up.
  • Set up a tent in the backyard – sleep in it overnight with torches, play in it, fill it with soft toys, build lego in it, have a picnic, read books…
  • Help with the gardening – find bugs, pull out weeds, plant new things, learn how to mow the lawn, and pick fruit and vegetables if available.
  • Get some bubble blowing mix and a wand and blow lots of bubbles.
  • Play a game outdoors – frisbee, petanque, swingball, wheelbarrow race…see more outdoor games.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt in the garden.
  • Draw with chalk on the path or draw and play hopscotch.
  • Roll marbles down the path (use something to stop them going out your gate/driveway).
  • Make a movie around the house and garden.
  • Wash the car (OK, you may need to incentivise this one somehow, but once they get started kid’s actually have a lot of fun washing the car, and getting a little wet in the process).

Activities in your neighbourhood

  • Scooter/skate/cycle/walk around the neighbourhood, perhaps to the local playground and back, or to the beach. If available, try out the local skate ramp or bike track. An ice cream on the way home always goes down well!
  • Visit the beach and build sandcastles, run in the dunes, collect shells and driftwood, explore the dunes, or make a fort out of driftwood.
  • Go for a long family walk on the beach, fly a kite, and visit a café afterwards.
  • Visit the local outdoor swimming pool, lake, river, or park, and spend a few hours there with a picnic.
  • Explore the local botanical gardens and learn about plants at the same time.
  • Kick a ball around or play cricket at the local park, or play basketball at the local basketball field or school.
  • Have a game of tennis at the local tennis club.

Activities further afield

  • Go for a family walk or bush walk. Check out walks at your local Council or visitor information centre, the Department of Conservation website, or the Walking and Hiking in New Zealand website
  • Try a tramp with your family – check out family tramps at your local tramping club as many will offer short trips suitable for all ages, or visit the New Zealand tramper website
  • Visit parks, playgrounds, and beaches in other neighbourhoods.
  • Try a family camping weekend or holiday and enjoy the outdoors and the social side of camping.

Check out School Holiday Outing and Activity Ideas for even more great ideas for things to do with your kids these holidays.

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Rosalie Chamberlain is a freelance writer at Rapco, specialising in business, compliance, and family. She helps businesses create clear, easy to read website content, and improve their communications. She is passionate about families and enjoys providing useful information for Kiwi parents. Read more articles that Rosalie has written for Kiwi Families.

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