1. Riding bikes
Kids love bikes, and rightly so. Bikes are one the first symbols of independence for kids and can start to ignite the adventure bug within. Bikes offer kids their first chance of solo travel, even if the expedition is just within the local neighbourhood streets. Bike riding is a chance for new adventures and new fun. There are plenty of bike lanes and trails throughout New Zealand. Most are free and all are a good way of seeing some nature, new sights and getting some fresh air.
If you're feeling a little more adventurous and your kids are capable, why not check out some of our world-famous mountain bike parks. They are dotted all around the country and provide a variety of tracks for beginners all the way up to advanced. Most have a first timers track - usually a gentle undulating track that's easy for everyone, parents included. Most parks have bike rentals, along with your local Torpedo7 store. Make a day of your biking, pack a lunch and make sure everyone has helmets.
Get back in the saddle - you'll love it!
2. Catching waves
If you're thinking your little grommie has potential to become the next Kelly Slater they'll need to be hitting the surf pretty early on and getting their hours up.
This Summer why not take them for their first surf lesson? Find a beach and weather conditions to match a day for beginners, grab a board and you're off. Wetsuits for this time of year are also recommended, especially the further South you are. Wetsuits keep you warm in the water and help with buoyancy.
Lots of surf beaches around our coastline have surf schools, these are great for first timers - they'll have boards for all ages and skill levels. Even if you don't make it into the surf, getting out to the beach is a great and cheap way to spend the day.
If you're near Hamilton or Auckland, check out DK Surf school, hosted in Orewa and Raglan by NZ legend Daniel Kereopa.
Always swim between the flags and make sure you know how to read the local conditions. Remember, if any doubt, don't paddle out.
3. Out walking
It's easy, it's free and it's healthy! More importantly, a huge walk will tire the kids out for the day, seeing them hit the hay tuckered out from the day's activities.
There are thousands of walking tracks all around NZ, from easy short bush walks and park tracks, often in urban environments, right through to back-country overnight missions. Whether you're looking at a loop track around the local park with a quick stop at the swings and slides, or you and the kids are filling their packs for an overnighter in the bush, walking is an easy and rewarding way to fill a day or two of the holidays.
Why not start with a target of how many kms you want to walk by the end of Summer? Or make a list of tracks you want to hit over the break?
Always check the weather when heading out. If it's a bigger walk always tell someone your plans and when you'll be back. The Mountain Safety Counsel has a great trip planning tool.
Make sure to pack some warm gear, plenty of water, sunscreen and some food. Get out there and clock up some km's!
4. A spot for Camping
With a bit of planning and the right gear spring time can be a beautiful time to get out to your favourite camping spot and pitch the tent. Most kids love camping, it gives them some freedom to roam around the campsite, meet new friends and learn some life skills that may come in handy later.
The weather in Summer can be still be changeable so make sure to pack warm gear for day activities and night time sleeping. If you don't have the gear, time, or inclination to get out into nature, why not convert the lounge into a campsite for the night? Blankets and duvets are excellent makeshift tents hung from tables and couches. You can have a pretend camp dinner and kids can do the camp washing up!
Have your kids come up with a camp name and some daily activities for living in the camp. You can make it a fun night for all, whether you?re under the stars or the lounge lights.
5. Paddle boarding
Paddleboarding is a relatively new sport and it's really fun and easy, even for kids. themselves loose on your last ride.
Boards range in size and thickness, the bigger you go the more buoyant the board is and is generally easier to paddle. Paddleboards come in hard versions like a giant surfboards and inflatable options, which are generally easier to transport and store. The paddles just have one blade with a handle on the other end.
The user paddles with alternate side strokes while standing on the middle of the board facing forward. This type of paddling is a great core workout and you get a much better view of everything when standing. Paddleboards can be used easily on flat water; their buoyancy and length also make them very easy to catch small waves.
If your kids are still small, you can have them sit on the board while you paddle - don't forget the lifejackets. A decent roof rack is a good idea as the hard boards don't fit easily into the back of a car. Or, the easiest option is inflatable SUPs. They pack up into a backpack and are much easier to carry.
There are lots of rental places at beaches around the country for first timers. If you are around Auckland's North Shore, check out our SUP EXPERIENCE school and rental on Takapuna Beach.
Get your paddle on!
6. Trampoline fitness
Kids are super fun and can provide hours of entertainment. The most common trampoline size range is 10ft to 16ft diameter. They are relatively easy to put together and can be put in a corner of the garden and kept outside permanently. Modern trampolines have safety cages and matts to cover the springs, keeping your kids safe while they bounce the holidays away.
Trampolines help kids develop the natural skills of balance and aerial awareness. Using the whole body, they help keep kids fit outside, which is great to get kids out of the house.
There are indoor trampoline parks in most cities, with training classes available with experts if your kids really take a liking to the sport and want to progress further.
The modern kayak is a strong one-piece construction where the paddler sits on top of the boat, a far cry from the old closed in designs that made tipping out a sometimes scary experience. You can get double kayaks for twice the fun and single kayaks in a range of sizes, the bigger or heavier you are the bogger boat you'll need underneath you.
There is a great range of nipper's kayaks for kids too. Kayak trips with the family are great fun and provide awesome sea, lake or river adventure experiences for the kids. If you're just starting out, go for some calm water on a low wind day. Don't go further than you can paddle back from, know your limits and always wear a life jacket.
But mostly, have fun!
If you want something a little out of the box, you can easily revert to the true and tried classic of walnut boat racing! All you need is a handful of walnuts in their shell. Crack the walnuts open carefully to retain one whole half of a shell, this becomes your hull, you can eat the walnut. Now make a mast out of cutdown toothpicks or wooden kebab skewers, glue these in place. Add a sail with a small section of post it note glued to the mast and hey presto! You have a miniature sailboat that can be raced in the bathtub, the pool, stream or even a puddle. Lots of fun, cheap, and teaches kids to open walnuts!
See You Out There.