15 free autumn activities

Amy Hamilton Chadwick
15 free autumn activities

School holidays can be a really fun time for families. However, if you’re on a tight budget it can be stressful, too.

You don’t want everyone going stir crazy when it rains, but you also don’t want to fork out for zoo passes every day. Luckily, there is a huge range of free activities on offer to Kiwi kids, at home and beyond. Here are 15 free activities to keep the kids entertained these holidays:


1. Visit a library

Unlike most places, at the library you can say yes to nearly everything. Your child can choose a huge pile of books to take home, all for free. Many libraries also have regular free events based around art, crafts, Lego, Minecraft and more.


2. Picnic at the botanic gardens

There are six botanic gardens around the country: Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Run, play and picnic – as well as learning about plants.


3. Check out a museum

Perfect for a rainy day, many of our major museums are free to enter.


4. Get arty at a gallery

Not every part of a gallery will be kid-friendly, but many art galleries are both free to enter and offer free activities for children. Check the events pages of your local gallery to find out what’s on for families.


5. Go green

Pick a flower, plant some seeds, or visit your local garden centre.


6. Roam the aisles at a DIY megastore

Perfect for a rainy day, many of the biggest home improvement stores include playgrounds and cafes.


7. Find a free family event

Go to eventfinda and search for free children’s events – you’ll see fun days, music, dance, and outdoor events.


8. Feed the ducks

Your local ducks and pukekos probably love to eat bread, but a better choice for their health is rolled oats. For older kids, make a checklist of things for them to spot at the park, from birds to types of trees to people on bikes.


9. Build a sandcastle

Swimming, sandcastles contests, shell collecting; even on a cold day, the beach can be a lot of fun.


10. Recycle your recycling

Grab the sticky tape and the scissors and make your recycling into monsters, robots, spaceships and more.


11. Admire the animals

Visit your local pet store and check out all the animals on offer, from puppies to mice to fish. Further afield, places like Auckland’s Ambury Park, Wellington’s Red Rocks and your local SPCA all offer the chance to see animals for free.


12. Race paper boats

Whose paper boat holds the most Lego mini-figures before it sinks? Test them in the bath.


13. Bowl at home

Make bowling pins from empty plastic bottles with some water in the bottom.


14. Cook up a storm

For the toddlers, use spreads, fruits and vegetables to make faces on rice cakes, or try another no-bake recipe that lets kids assemble their own food without needing an oven or stovetop. Older kids can bake a wide range of healthy snacks and meals.


15. Mix up some mess

Playdough can be made with five household ingredients and it’s safe for toddlers and up. For the kids who can be trusted not to put it in their mouths, you can get even more creative with snow dough, slime or oobleck.

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