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By Erica• 15 Nov 2017
If like me, you’re back in the realm of daily sunscreen-wrestling sessions and constant demands for sunhats to stay firmly ON, then you’ll also be aware that summer is slowly creeping up on us. This year's Wellington ‘Summer City’ programme is an amazing one to behold, but I find myself scanning the list considering which events my kids wouldn’t totally destroy/wreck/ruin the ambience of.
So, here are five very kid-friendly places and events to explore in Wellington this summer – for both residents and visitors to the city – which will delight your little people and keep them entertained through the long summer holidays.
Opened in September, the new kids' Discovery Garden is just a stone's throw from the main play area at the Wellington Botanic Garden. It is fast becoming one of my favourite kid-friendly spots around the city; it's a serene place to be, while at the same time offering plenty for kids to explore.
There's the chalkboard entrance, the ‘build-a-teepee’ challenge, and a huge array of amazing plants, insects and displays to keep the littlies occupied. While the garden is brand spanking new, the planting feels impressively well-established and beautifully organised. With inspiring eco-friendly twists and lots of different sections to meander through, you’ll be encouraged to touch, smell, explore and discover the power of plants. Bring a picnic and make a day of it.
LEGO: arguably the most painful object to stand on, but also the saviour of parents everywhere for its ability to simultaneously entertain, engage and enthral both little and big people. The arrival of 'Let’s Go Build: A festival for LEGO Lovers' to Te Papa on 9 December, is bound to be a big hit throughout the summer months. There’ll be plenty to look at in the form of 50 amazing international LEGO landmarks, as well as truckloads of hands-on building activities, including building a giant LEGO map of New Zealand.
If your kids aren't LEGO-mad (hard to believe), then Te Papa offers loads of other great exhibitions, activities and interactive displays to keep the kids happy for hours at a time. Let’s face it, summer doesn’t always play ball in Wellington and we are usually left with more than a couple of rainy days to fill in during the holidays. This is where Te Papa steps up to offer every frazzled family in Wellington a place to escape to.
Zealandia, the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, offers so much to do, so much to see – literally something for everyone in the family. Along with a myriad of tours and monthly storytelling sessions, there is also the fantastic kid-friendly cafe.
Right now, and all throughout summer, Zealandia is all about the birds. A new pair of Takahe are breeding, along with Hihi and Kakariki who are nesting, and new Kaka have begun to hatch. So if you’re in need of a sunny family-friendly escape, a good coffee/fluffy, a peaceful walk, or a peek at what Aotearoa might have been like before people rocked up, then go take a gander at Zealandia.
I often joke that Wellington Zoo is my second home. My kids know it like the back of their hand and a sunny afternoon 'rendez-zoo' is always a big hit in our household. It offers a great school holiday programme, along with daily feeding experiences and ‘Nest’ sessions where you can watch the in-house vets in action.
The recently opened 'Meet the Locals' section has also added a great new Kiwi-farm dimension to an already fabulous nearby attraction; kids get the chance to frolick with friendly farm animals, feed bunnies, and watch waddling little blue penguins – activities that city kids wouldn't normally get the chance to do. There’s never a dull day at this lively yet intimate city zoo.
Another fabulous offering at Wellington's gorgeous Botanic Gardens is Kids' Magic Dance, Dance, Dance! This one-day programme is held on Saturday 27 January as part of the awesome Gardens Magic festival – a family-friendly blog subject in its own right. This concert and all the activities alongside it are a great way to spend the last weekend of the school holidays. There will be loads of great performances, live entertainment, activities and things to do…So bring a blanket, pack a picnic, slap on the sunscreen and gather up the gang for a wonderful concert in the Dell.
So, mini Wellingtonians and small visitors from abroad, whilst scooting around Scorching Bay and digging for dinos in Te Papa’s Bush City will never go out of fashion, I hope you can impart these suggestions to the big people in your life and add a bit of variety to your summer calendar. Happy holidays Tamariki ma!
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