Northland beaches are a staple during summer holidays, but what other activities are available? Photo / Michael Cunningham
Finding things to do to keep the kids busy over the summer holidays can be tough. Reporter Brodie Stone has compiled a list of family activities in the Whangārei region for everyone to enjoy these holidays.
Gaze at 500-year-old kauri tree at A H Reed Memorial Kauri Park
There are a few different ways you can enjoy this famous Whangārei location, where some trees are at least 500 years old.
Walk from Mair Park along Whareora Rd where you can join up with the infamous walkway, or simply start at the A H Reed carpark.
Read the information sign at the beginning of the trail to be inspired by the namesake of this land, Alfred Hamish Reed, who walked from North Cape to Bluff at 85 years old.
There are three different trails to choose from. Enjoy the hanging bridge, high treetops, or take a photo of the precious kauri – then, if you wish, walk all the way to Whangārei Falls (Otuihau).
There is an additional waterfall at A H Reed called Paranui Falls, which is hidden away along the treetop track.
These 24-metre falls are a great way to enjoy the splendour of nature if you’re not keen on walking all the way to the Whangārei Falls. If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, you can climb the stairs to the lookout.
Dogs are prohibited here.
Loop around the playgrounds
There are four different playgrounds to enjoy along the Hātea Loop, which provide a great incentive for the kids to get active.
They are the Pocket Park by the footpath bridge, the recently improved Town Basin playground, the soon-to-open Pohe Island Adventure Park, and some monkey bars next to Kafe, where parents can stop for tea or coffee.
Kids of all ages enjoy looking at the boats. The loop is pram, wheelchair, scooter, roller-skate, longboard and bike-friendly, so everyone can join. Plus, there are cafés along the way to check out.
Explore industrial heritage at Whangārei Quarry Gardens
This spot features four different gardens which are run by dedicated volunteers. There’s a sensory garden, as well as one full of bromeliads and another dedicated to camellias.
The site is also historic, as the remnants of its fully-functioning quarry still stand. There is a tunnel for kids to play in, and other concrete foundations can be found alongside walks on the hillside.
There are three different walks for different fitness types. At least one hour is recommended to explore the garden trails.
Quail Café is a great spot for a refreshing drink or yummy snack on a hot day, and for those plant lovers, there’s a range of tropical plants at the entrance to the award-winning gardens.
This spot does require a gold-coin donation, but it’s well worth it.
No dogs are allowed.
Feed the ducks at Mair Park
A playground, picnic spot and river where you can feed the ducks – heaven for toddlers.
Bring a bag of frozen peas to feed the ducks (don’t feed ducks bread – it’s bad for them!).
A great spot to spend a hot day, as there is plenty of shade and space for the kids to roam.
Ride a train at Kiwi North
On their open days, Kiwi North has electric trains as well as a steam-powered train and tractor rides.
You can also visit the museum, which currently features an exhibition on Mount Manaia and Parihaka.
You may even be lucky enough to see Disco the kiwi dancing in her dark room. You must remain quiet, however, and no photos are allowed.
Have an adventure at Heads Up
Heads Up Adventures is based just outside of Onerahi and is great for a range of ages. There’s mountain bike trails, monster scooter trails and forest paintball.
There is also a café with a spectacular view at the top of the hill for parents to relax in while the kids burn off some energy.
Check out their website here: https://headsupadventures.co.nz/.
Be a mermaid
Sacha Williamson has been diving for years and offers a range of courses, such as water safety workshops and a range of free-diving courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels, as well as mermaiding courses.
Mermaiding is one of her popular courses. Starting at $90 for a day course, you can learn to be a mermaid from six years of age up.
Information can be found here.
Glide past trees on a flying fox
Adventure Forest just outside Glenbervie Forest, 10 minutes outside Whangārei CBD, is suitable for all ages and fitness types.
There’s a range of heights that are suitable, with 12 circuits to choose from and 30 ziplines.
The first four courses are designed for children, beginning at age six, with the remaining eight for those daredevils who are looking for more of a challenge.
Prices are: Children (six to 15 years) $32; students (from 16-26 with student ID) $38; adults (16 years and up) $42.
The pass is valid for up to three hours.
You can check them out here: https://adventureforest.co.nz/.
Do some flips
Flip Out Whangārei is a popular way to spend a few hours. There’s also a whole bunch of arcade games there if you’ve got extra cash to spare.
Prices start at $12 for those younger than eight, and it’s $18 for those aged eight years old and over.
Suitable for all ages.
Create some art
The Quarry Arts Centre in Whangārei offers a range of art classes and holiday programmes.
School holiday art programs will run from January 16 to 27.
There’ll be painting, clay, glazing and lots of other fun creative activities.
Half-workshops or full-day sessions are available. Classes are from $15 to $55 (full day).
Bookings are essential – you can book here.