School holidays: What to do in Auckland for the last week of winter break

Composite of images representing the four activities mentioned in the article
Photo credit: Composite: Getty Images / Snowplanet / Auckland Museum / Ruiha Turner

As a childless 25-year-old, the last week hasn't been any different to normal: but for those with offspring, it's been a "never-ending parade of juggling work, your child's constant demands, your own exhaustion, and a nagging feeling you never were this 'bored' on school holidays" - at least, according to my colleague.

With the second week of the winter break underway, many parents, guardians and caregivers out there will be running low on ideas, inspiration, and yes, probably patience.

With five more days until students across the motu head back to school, kids have likely surpassed the "I'm bored" phase and have now morphed into zombies surviving on a diet of TikTok and video games. 

If you're searching for activities to keep your sprog/s entertained just a little bit longer, look no further. Here's several (not-sold-out) ideas for family fun that won't break the bank, and could even be educational. Just call me Mary Poppins. 

Go to the movies

An activity often saved for a rainy day, heading to the cinema with the kids in tow can make for a fun outing that works rain or shine - but particularly when the weather is wet and you're feeling cabin-feverish. Depending on their age, it might even be a movie you'll enjoy.

So what's on for the rest of the week? Well, if your kids are at least 13, take them along to Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, or if they're in their Disney Princess era, the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is still showing, albeit at limited times (parental guidance is recommended). There's also Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts (both rated M); Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (PG); the Russian animated-adventure flick Cats in the Museum (G); and Disney-Pixar's latest offering, Elemental (PG).

Another option is Coco Reo Māori, the Māori language remake of the Pixar animated film Coco, which hits cinemas on July 13 - just in time for Matariki.

Discover Ancient Egypt

Alternatively, you could take a trip to Auckland Museum and find yourself in ancient Egypt with the new international exhibition, Egypt: In the Time of Pharaohs. Featuring over 300 original artefacts, immersive displays and to-scale models, the exhibition spans the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts ever to come to Aotearoa, some dating back as far as 4500 years.

Highlights include the mummified remains of Ta-Khar, an Egyptian woman who lived during the 25th Dynasty (165-656 BCE), a 2000-year-old papyrus from The Book of the Dead, and jewellery and adornments worn by wealthy Egyptians. While suitable for all ages, death and the afterlife are prominent themes, with mummified human remains on display. 

The exhibition can be viewed daily until November 12, with tickets still available for the rest of the week. 

If the exhibition doesn't work for you, heading to the museum itself can always be a fun and informative activity. Entry to Auckland Museum is free and plenty of the exhibits are also free to peruse.

Where: Auckland Museum, Parnell, Auckland 1010.

When: On now until November 12.

Cost: Free entry for Museum Members; $25 for adults (non-members), $15 for children aged five to 15, under-fives free; $72 for families (two adults, two children); $21 for students and seniors with ID.

The new international exhibition features over 300 original artefacts.
The new international exhibition features over 300 original artefacts. Photo credit: Auckland Museum

Celebrate Matariki

This year Matariki coincides with the school holidays, meaning many parents will have this Friday off to enjoy with whanau. There's a number of free events celebrating Matariki being held across the motu this long weekend, so do a little research and see what's going on in your area for a family-friendly outing. In Auckland, there will be 90 events and activities across the region as part of the Matariki Festival (July 11-22), which you can check out here.

For Aucklanders, there will be a free event at Auckland Art Gallery, Matariki Ahunga Nui, on Friday from 10am to 5pm to commemorate the rising of the Matariki star cluster. The event will have kai, shopping, and Matariki-inspired crafts for the kids, as well as drop-in sessions for people to enjoy. Renowned choreographer and dancer Taane Mete will perform 'Marae in the Sky', a  performance conceived especially for Matariki, while composer and Grammy-winning soloist, Jerome Kavanagh, will be showcasing his whānau's collection of over 50 taonga pūoro, or Māori musical instruments. 

Where: Auckland Art Gallery, Wellesley Street East, Auckland CBD.

When: Friday, July 14. 

Cost: Free.

Jerome Kavanagh
Grammy winner Jerome Kavanagh will showcase his whānau's collection of over 50 taonga puoro in 'Power to the Puoro'. Photo credit: Ruiha Turner

Enjoy a Winter Wonderland

For a day of fun in the (snow), how about taking the kids tobogganing or snow-tubing at Snowplanet's Winter Wonderland? Complete with snow-capped trees and activities, Winter Wonderland is a safe, family-friendly alpine village that's set apart from skiers and snowboarders.

There are two snow-tubing tracks (fun for all ages and requires no skill), a tobogganing area, and plenty of play space for the littlies. Jackets, pants, gloves and boots can all be hired if you don't have your own - be prepared, it's -5 degrees. Of course, there's also skiing or snowboarding at Snowplanet for the older kids, or those up for a challenge.

Where: Snowplanet, 91 Small Road, Silverdale, Auckland, North Auckland.

When: Until Sunday, July 16. 

Cost: For one-hour snow-tubing and tobogganing with entry to Winter Wonderland; kids under two are free, children aged five and under are $20, and children over five and adults are $38. You can add on an extra hour for $13 to $18 per person. 

Kid tobogganing
Winter Wonderland is a safe, family-friendly alpine village that's set apart from skiers and snowboarders. Photo credit: Snowplanet