Parents, the inevitable has arrived: school holidays start this weekend. But don’t be caught off guard, there’s plenty for the kids to do between now and 5 October.
Here’s our round up of a few activities in Australia and New Zealand that will keep the whole family entertained this spring.
New South Wales
In Sydney, try Wet ‘n’ Wild Sydney in Prospect, just 40 minutes west of the centre of Sydney. For kids, there’s Nickelodeon Beach, Mini Boomerang Bay; and for older kids seeking an adrenalin rush, the Sydney SkyCoaster and Surf Deck are two cutting-edge attractions they’re bound to enjoy.
If you’re looking for something fun and safe after dark, try a Spotlight Prowl at Centennial Parklands. This nocturnal adventure lets you see brushtail possums, microbats, tawny fogmouths and flying foxes. Starts Friday, 25 September so book your spot now and don’t forget your torch.
If you’re in Regional New South Wales, there’s plenty for you to do from coast to country.
Take a short break in Coffs Harbour only five hours drive south of Brisbane. Besides the Big Banana (where tobogganing is king) make sure you stop in at award-winning Zulu’s Restaurant. Take the family snorkelling off the Solitary Islands, where the East Australian Currents’ warm and cool waters meet and are teeming with sealife.
Near Tamworth, the kids can pan for gold and gemstones in Hill End in Central NSW and Nundle. In fact, this handy list outlining where to find gold, gemstones and sapphires in Australia mentions all the best spots from Tamworth to Inverell.
In the World’s Most Liveable City (officially, for the fifth year running), Melbourne’s little daredevils will love a day skating at The Shed Skatepark Cranbourne. It’s Australia’s biggest and best indoor skate park open from 10am to 9pm daily, for ages 6 to 16. It’s just under an hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD, or an easy train ride.
Wonderland Fun Park at Harbour Town Shopping Centre, Docklands has a riproaring and swashbuckling adventure set for the whole family. Arrr We There Yet? is the story of three sailors in search of treasure, love and the perfect cream pie. A scallywag pirate, a muscular sailor and a chef fight for the title of Captain aboard the ship.
For a day of exploring, take the kids to the Yarra Valley. From Warburton, it’s about 9kms to Mt Donna Buang where we recommend the 350 metre walk through the canopy of the Rainforest Gallery. There are walkways at the base of beautiful, ancient trees and plenty of native birds, mossy fern trees and serene waterfalls.
The Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill is a highly recommended big day out. Located on the Marraboor River, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the 1850s. There’s pioneer cottages, historic tea rooms, tractors, vintage car rides, a sound and light show and delicious old fashioned boiled lollies the kids will want to stock up on.
Brisbane‘s newest historical interactive centre, the TradeCoast Central Heritage Park caters for the whole family. For adults, learn about Brisbane’s greatest wartime secrets and visit three heritage sites. For kids, bring a picnic or enjoy lunch at one of the food outlets and spread out in the park that was once a convict farm, a women’s prison and a busy airport runway. Entry is free and the centre is open Monday to Friday.
At Bindi’s Island in Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast, escape to your own tropical paradise when you enter Bindi’s incredible three-storey treehouse. Inspired by Bindi the Jungle Girl and Bindi’s adventures as Nim in Return to Nim’s Island, kids can meet giant Aldabran tortoises, Coconut and Jarvis, macaws, boa constrictors and an alligator.
To pretend to ride Thomas for a day, roll into Rockhampton’s Archer Park for some holiday fun. From 21 to 28 September, the school holiday program includes tram rides, military artefact displays, hands-on blacksmithing, military gaming and woodworks. After a big day out with the kids, you may even be up for a hearty meal at Rockhampton’s popular Six & Co Restaurant on Albert Street.
Australian Capital Territory
Floriade is on until Sunday 11 October in Canberra, offering gardening tips from experts in the field, inspiring musical performances, culinary demonstrations by world-renowned chefs and a five-night after dark extravaganza, Floriade NightFest. Other activities include the Botanical Bonanza, Hearty Science for World Heart Day on 29 September and Rocket Launching for World Space Week from 2 October.
Plenty to do in Adelaide, but have you gotten lost in Clare Valley’s a-mazing Mintaro Maze yet? It’s a real living maze with fountains, twists, and tricky dead ends. Plan a day out for the family – it’s less than a two hours’ drive north of Adelaide. You can buy lunch there, or cook your own BBQ onsite. Mums may even want to take home one of the Body Quintessence pure aromatic skin care products too!
Just let the kids jump and get a free coffee. Just Jump is an indoor trampoline and fun centre in Wanneroo, about a half hour drive north of Perth CBD. It’s free to jump on trampoline mats, in the foam pit, run around the Parkour Playground and snooze in the chill out zone with arcade games, while parents can wait in the cafe with a coffee.
Esperance is a great family spot if you can take a short break. There’s mini golf, you can meet a seal called Sammy, swim at the Twilight Beach and visit the Bird and Animal Park to cuddle up to some cute rabbits and guinea pigs.
Go zorbing. Zorbing, we say? You heard correct! Kids can jump inside a big plastic ball (or orb) and roll down a hill. Zorbing in Rotorua in New Zealand is easy. OGO Rotorua is home to the world’s first zorbing site on the North Island. The orb is filled with warm water – so it makes it fun and just the right temperature all year round.
On the South Island if you’re based in Christchurch, a 2.5 hour drive north is Whale Watch Kaikoura. The watching tour group has a school holiday special starting 26 September, where every child under 15 gets a free spot on the tour. Must be booked through here as long as mum, dad or a responsible adult goes along too. Back in the city, the Palms Shopping Centre lets you see Melanie Poppins’ magic show and face painting each day from 11.30am; and Ronald McDonald himself will be painting faces daily from 5 – 7 October. Velocity Karts is awesome for getting a rush of adrenaline – choose between blokarting, drift karting (with yachts), and much more in the multi-session school holiday programs open to kids over 8 years.
Missed some good ones? Tell us what else you’ve got lined up for your kids these school holidays.