We all need some new places to visit these school holidays. Find some new and interesting places to visit in your area. Parks, reserves, playgrounds, bushwalks and more.

Have you ever noticed that people from out of town always think your city is great, but you’re often at a loss when it comes to finding things to do?

That’s because visitors are always on the lookout for something different, but when you’re at home you just get caught up doing what you’ve always done.

To find interesting places to visit in your area, you need to think like a tourist, and be prepared to revisit places you haven’t been to in years. Often places change or evolve, and we just assume that we’ve been there and done that. Take a look at your town or city with fresh eyes, and see what’s on offer.

Places to Visit these School Holidays

Parks and reserves

Every town and city has a multitude of parks and reserves, and many are hidden away or off the main routes. Your local council can provide you with a complete list of reserves in your area, and can also supply information about what facilities are at each.

If you’re taking small children, you’ll definitely need to know if there are toilets, but they can also tell you if there are playgrounds, barbeques, water access, skateboard ramps and the like.

Contact your local council for a ‘Parks and Reserves’ flyer, or check out their website. You can find your local council’s details on the www.localcouncils.govt.nz website.


New Zealand has some amazing bushwalks which cater for all ages and abilities, so why not pack a picnic and take the kids ‘bush’ for the day. Your local information centre will have a list of bushwalks in your area, or visit www.doc.govt.nz for walks administered by the Department of Conservation.


New Zealand has a wealth of history. Bring it to life by seeing and hearing some of our history by visiting one or more of the many museums throughout the country. Check out www.nzmuseums.co.nz for a directory listing of museums in each region.

Historic places

Not every town or city is lucky enough to have a museum, but every place has a history. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust has a register of all historic or heritage sites in New Zealand, and you can search for them by town or city on their website www.historic.org.nz.

Spend some time doing a little research, and then create your own history tour to do with your child. It’s doesn’t have to be old, stuffy and boring; in fact, with a little bit of imagination you can make the tour a highlight of the holidays.

Zoos and animal parks

When we go out of town with our children, one of the first things we visit is the zoo or animal park, yet somehow we forget to visit the ones in our own backyard. Small, privately owned animal parks are dotted throughout the country, and the intimate hands-on nature of these facilities is perfect for young children.

Many of these parks are not widely advertised because they’re more of a family hobby, than a business, but with a little digging you can usually track them down. Your local kindergarten or pre-school can often point you in the right direction, as these places are often on their ‘to visit’ list throughout the year.

Visitor Information Centres will have details about your bigger zoos and animal parks.

Beaches, rivers and lakes

These are obvious places to visit in summer, but we tend to forget about them in the colder months. It doesn’t have to be that way. A trip to the beach, river or lake during winter is a whole new adventure, with all sorts of activities you can do.

Wrap up warm and take the children on a scavenger hunt, build sandcastles, go rock climbing, skim stones, build dams and explore places you have never explored before. There’s more to these areas than just swimming, so make the most of the colder weather and enjoy what’s on offer outside of the water.

Tourist parks

Every town has their tourist hot spots, but most locals never get there unless they’re taking out-of-town guests. Don’t worry if you think you’ve seen it all before, because there’s usually always something new to look at. And, if you haven’t been there yourself for a long time, you’ll probably find things have well and truly changed since you were a child.

Suburban shops

When away on holiday most people end up doing a bit of shopping, and it’s always fun to visit shops you’ve never been to before. Now I know shopping isn’t always high on the list for children, but visiting small suburban shopping centres can sometimes turn up hidden treasures.

Instead of heading into the city centre or your local mall these holidays, take the back streets and hunt out some little shopping centres. You never know what you’ll find!

Action activity facilities

If you’re looking for something to get the adrenaline going, then try some action activities in your town. You could try rock climbing, ten pin bowling, mini putt, archery, go-carting, blow-carting, roller skating, ice skating, skateboarding, paint ball or laser tag. There’s no one place to find these sorts of activities. You could check at an Information Centre for contact details. Or just get on the web and search for activities in your town.

Community events

Community events may not have all the hype and hoopla of corporate activities, but they are usually reasonably priced, lots of fun, and cater for the whole family. School holidays are a popular time to hold community events, so keep your eyes open as community groups often have a hard time advertising what’s coming up.

Keep an eye on the ‘What’s On’ column of your community newspaper, or check out the events page on your local council’s website. While this page won’t necessarily tell you everything that’s going on, they usually keep it fairly up-to-date so it’s a good place to start.

With all that in mind, there’s no reason to be bored if you’re staying at home these holidays. Pretend your town is a whole new place and start exploring. As the old saying goes – make sure you see your own backyard first! For more great school holiday activity ideas, check out our holiday articles.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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