Blowing a gale? Freezing southerly? Pelting with rain? Try these activities:
ASB Sports Arena
During the week the kids can kick a ball around on one of the courts (for $1.60 and you can hire a ball for $2.50 or take your own) and the Arena has a cafe with a fenced-off play-area. On Thursday and Sunday mornings they also host ASB Active Play which has bouncy castle, gym equipment and toys from 9.30 – 11.30. More on the arena and a map: ASB Arena.
New Zealand’s friendliest pet store and a great place to check out puppies, kittens, turtles, mice, rats, guinea pigs, birds and fish. Try Animates Kaiwharawhara or Kilbirnie (across from Pak n Save). The store hours are 8.30am – 6pm weekdays and 9am to 5pm weekends. For more information, visit Animates.
A fun trip up and back and you can also explore the Cable Car museum and the upper parts of the Botanical Gardens. For more information click here: Cable Car.
Moved from the old building at Civic Square, Capital E now have a smaller but still great space at Queens Wharf. Interactive toys, books, climbing frames and even a couple of wishbone bikes and free drawing and crafts. Capital E also offers loads of great classes and activities both in term time and the holidays and kids’ theatre at Hannah Playhouse. More information: Capital E.
Let other people clean up the morning tea crumbs and hideaway from the rain in a child-friendly cafe. Some great rainy day places are Southern Cross, Rata cafe (at Zealandia), Kinderbear Cafe in Petone or Mojo at the Zoo. For more ideas visit our child-friendly cafe page.
The Space Place (formerly Carter Observatory) includes interactive, multimedia exhibitions on the Southern Skies, a planetarium, heritage telescopes, and space-themed gift shop. Every Sunday at 10.15am, and every Wednesday 10.15am during school holidays, there is a special planetarium show for pre-schoolers. Entry for under-fours is free. Adults and older children pay regular price, which includes access to the rest of the Observatory’s interactive exhibitions including simulated rocket launches, digital solar systems, Maori mythologies written in the stars and a cool spaceship module. They also host themed parties! For more information, visit their website: Space Place. Or email or phone: email@example.com and +64 4 910 3140.
Worth a visit at any time but if you have an infant, we also recommend the “Gallery Babes” tours. A curator leads a tour and explanation of the exhibits. Bookings essential. The tours are approximately monthly on a Wednesday, mid-morning. Click here to see the next session and book: Gallery Babes.
Nairn Street Cottage
This is central Wellington’s oldest building (formerly Colonial Cottage), built in 1858 by William Wallis. It has been beautifully preserved and set up to illustrate life at the time it was built. Has a garden to celebrate. Open 10am to 4pm in the holidays, 12pm to 4pm other days. 68 Nairn Street, Mount Cook, Wellington 6011. For more information, visit Nairn Street Cottage. For directions: View Map
An art gallery with lots to entertain the kids. There is a permanent children’s activity room up the stairs from the main entrance. The gallery often has their mobile playground out (but not always – you can ring and check if you want to be sure) and there is also often a child-friendly exhibition on. More information: The Dowse.
Fire Station Tour
Wellington fire stations will take visiting groups so get a gaggle together and arrange a visit. All call-outs take precedence of course but if the fire engines are in, the kids can usually climb up into the cab and the fire-fighters will give a display of their uniforms and gear. Information about the Wellington central station is here:Fire Stations. Email CityStn@fire.org.nz to arrange a visit.
Built in 1876 by John Golder. Has been restored and is now a small museum, set up to show life at the time it was built. Open only on Saturday & Public Holidays from 1:30pm – 4pm. View Map
Chipmunks, Junglerama, Laughalots and more: Indoor Playgrounds.
Katherine Mansfield House
Some interesting “titbits” about the author and historical displays from the 1900s. 25 Tinakori Road, Thorndon, Wellington: Katherine Mansfield House.
Kilbirnie Recreation Centre
As well as housing Tinytown (see below) the Rec Centre has a 20m by 40m concrete rink – with sport court flooring, 1.5m barrier and safety netting, which is great for riding bikes, skateboards and scooters. And on the weekends they have indoor hockey sticks and puts available and they put up ramps. Open from 9am to 9pm on weekends and 10pm on weekdays (closed public hols). More information: KilbirnieRec.
Casual “gym” classes for 1 – 5 years, held at the Te Rauparaha Arena. Includes songs, bats and balls, and a very popular swing, as well as the traditional kids gym equipment. Class times and dates here: Kindy Gym.
Strike 35 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua and 399 Hutt Road, Lower Hutt.
Laserforce 133 Tory St
Lasertag 2 Westminster Street, Kaiwharawhara
Indoor Grand Prix 2 Westminster Street, Kaiwharawhara
Daytona Old Ford Building, 43B Seaview Road, Seaview
North City Indoor Raceway 3 Raiha Street Elsdon, Porirua (claims to have the “fastest OSH approved Karts in NZ”).
Marine Education Centre
The Island Bay Marine Education Centre houses an amazing collection of sea-creatures. There’s a huge “touch-tank” full of starfish, crabs and more which children can touch and pick up plus loads of tanks full of all sorts of fascinating things. The centre is open every Sunday 10am – 3pm ($2 entry). For school or group bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for directions: Octopus.
Visit one of Wellington’s model train shops. They have tones to look at, including running model trains:
Mack’s Track at the Plimmerton Railway Station (catch the train there if you can) Mack’s Plimmerton
Mack’s Track at Johnsonville (4 Johnsonville Rd).
This is a museum of Wellington (formerly Museum of City & Sea), celebrating Wellington’s social, cultural and maritime history. There are some great parts for kids of all ages: several reconstructions (one complete with hologram rat!) and an interactive sea ship area which little kids particularly like (Jack’s Boathouse). More information here: Wellington Museum.
New Zealand Cricket Museum
Located in the Old Grandstand of the Basin Reserve. Includes memorabilia dating back to 1743. Between 1 November – 30 April it is open Monday to Friday 10.30am – 3.30pm. View map
Take a free, guided tour of Parliament. The tours start at the Visitor Centre in the foyer of the Beehive (Executive Wing) on the hour, beginning at 10am and last tour at 4pm weekdays, 10am -3pm on Saturdays and 11am – 3pm Sundays. The tours visit key parts of Parliament’s buildings, describe our parliamentary processes and include information about the architecture of the buildings and some of the artworks. Click here for more information: Parliament.
A great museum for kids. As well as the kinds of things you assume will be there (historical displays, features of major New Zealand events and the role of police in them), runs a “junior detectives” programme where the kids get to dress in uniform and role mysteries. Open Wednesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm. Free admission. Tours have a small charge. The Royal New Zealand Police College campus, Papakowhai Road, Porirua View Map
Reserve Bank Museum
Surprisingly interesting. Illustrates the history of the New Zealand economy as well as of the Reserve Bank itself. Includes interactive exhibits to explain the workings of our economy, plus memorabilia and rare notes and coins. Open 9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
With cats, kittens, puppies, dogs and bunnies, the SPCA is a great way to spend an hour or two especially if you don’t have pets at home (although you may need to judge the extent to which your kids can leave without wanting to take all the pets home!). Housed in the old fever hospital in Mt Victoria, they also run monthly animal crew events, school holiday programmes and birthday parties. Open most days 10am – 4pm. For more information, visit Wellington SPCA.
Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings, the Southern Cross open up their Guest Room to parents and little ones. This is a great space for parents, babies and kids – a large enclosed area with comfy couches and carpet to crawl around on. Between 10am-12pm they have a professional massage therapist. Enjoy a FREE 10 minute back, neck and shoulder massage while Andrea looks after your wee one. For more information, click here: thecross.
And on Saturdays and Sunday from 10am-2pm, the Southern Cross has lots to entertain the kids with – craft tables , colouring competitions, face-painting, toys and kid-friendly staff. They recommend you phone to book a table. Phone: 04 384 908.
Te Papa’s standard displays are popular with children and have the benefits of lots of space and being virtually indistructable. There is something for everyone but the parts that children particularly seem to enjoy are the outdoor area accessible from the ground floor cafe (which includes a cave), Mountains to Sea with New Zealand animals and sea-life on the second floor, the giant squid (including the 3d movie near it), Te Marae and the red plane, the tin cow and corrogated iron car in the main display on the fourth floor.
Te Papa also has four “Discovery Centres” designed specifically for children with toys, exhibits and resources. Nature Space is on the 2nd floor with entry just by the giant squid exhibition and includes a dinosaur footprint, a giant whale heart replica that kids can crawl into and child-friendly microscopes. Te Huka ā Tai is the Maori culture discovery centre on the 4th floor between the marae and the meeting house exhibition. Inspiration station is an art and fun discovery centre on the 4th floor that includes an old-fashioned shop for kids to play in. PlaNet Pasifika has pacific drums, books and activities and is located on the 4th floor past the Golden Years exhibition.
Te Papa also has Storyplace, an activity based learning centre for children aged 12 months to 5 years. Programmes change every 8 weeks and each Storyplace session runs for 45 mins. Storyplace tickets have a small fee (buy your tickets at the Information Desk on Level 2). More information here: Storyplace.
On the 5th floor, head to the Art Gallery sales area to pick up your Art Detective bag. Good for the 5+ age group, the bags are filled with loads of activities to help young kids learn about art.
Te Papa opens at 10am every day. If you are there before 10am you can always hit the cafe on the ground floor which has quite a bit for the kids to play with, or you can take them to the outside ground-floor area (go through the cafe towards the water). The outside area includes a cave with glow-worms which is always a hit in our family.
The Lanes 34 – 238 Wakefield Street
Strike 35 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua and 399 Hutt Road, Lower Hutt. Has bumpers and ramps for little children.
Bowlarama 52 Hall St Newtown. Has bumpers and ramps for little children.
Part of the Kilbirnie Rec Centre is “Tinytown”, a preschool play space with ride-on toys and playhouses and a giant bouncy “castle” (currently a red bus). Great for cold or wet days when you would like some outside play inside! In the same building is a large concrete rink for scooting or riding. For opening hours and more information: Tinytown
Tuatara Gallery at Pataka
The Tuatara Gallery is a space especially for kids at Pataka in Porirua. It’s a fantastic resource: heaps for kids to look at and do. Check out the photos on our Facebook page. More information: Tuatara.
Over 50 interconnected trampolines wall to wall, angled trampolines allow you to literally bounce off the walls, purpose built dodge-ball, olympic trampolines, wall running, battle beam, and rock climbing wall. For more information visit Uptown Bounce.
Basically a shop but the Cave shows a “behind-the-scenes” dvd showing Weta workshop and lots of models from Lord of the Rings and other shows like the Wot Wots. Click here for more: Weta Cave.