Written by Mishaela Horler 

With the heat of summer now upon us and the Christmas excitement over, you might be left wondering how to keep your wee ones entertained and busy! We've come up with some fun summer activities to make the most of the gorgeous weather without having to break the bank. 

Strawberry Picking 

Okay, so for this one, you do need to pay for the strawberries you pick, but it'll keep your wee one busy for a decent stretch of time as they scour the strawberry patches for the perfect specimens to pick and take home. You're not meant to eat them as you go (which seems fair enough), but I must admit that a few have accidentally become samples when I've gone before. It might be best to brief your child on that before going. Keep an eye out for the weather, as some places will not be open if it's raining. A big bonus for a lot of these places is the attached shop with fresh berry ice-cream available! Just make sure to get there with plenty of time to spare as sometimes they shut down the ice-cream machines within an hour of closing.

If you're in Auckland, there are lots of places to go - check out this list here: 

Chalk Art 

I remember spending hours as a kid drawing chalk pictures, winding paths and writing my name on the concrete driveway out the front of our house. Now I live in a high-density suburb where most of the homes face the road, and individual driveways are scarce. In saying that, I still see kid's artwork in chalk on the footpath now and then, and it's nice to see the monotony of identical houses broken up by imagination and colour. If you're not keen on letting your kids draw on the public footpath, you can always let them draw on your driveway (if you've got one) or even the side of your house! There are plenty of brands to choose from and if you select one that's washable, then cleaning is as easy as tossing a bucket of water over it, or simply letting the rain wash it away! The novelty of being allowed to draw on something other than paper entices kids to stay busy for ages and get their creative juices flowing! Get a few different sizes of chalk and multiple colours to make it more interesting. If your little one has dust allergies, you could opt for liquid chalk that is suitable for window art instead! 

Messy Play! 

Kids have to be able to make messes now and then without consequence! Messy play is an excellent way to keep your little one entertained while tending to their sensory development. Haakaa's Colostrum Collectors make the perfect dropper tools for watercolour play - carefully fill each one with a different coloured food dye, fill separate bowls with some water, then squeeze a drop or two of each colour into the bowls and watch as they swirl around!


To reduce the number of dishes to clean afterwards, try using Haakaa's Baby Food and Breast Milk Freezer Tray and place small amounts of distinctive smelling foods, e.g. vanilla extract, lemon slices, banana pieces, strawberry yoghurt etc. Gently cover your child's eyes or have them hold their hands over their eyes and see if they can guess what is in each bowl either by smell or touch!

For little ones, simply place items/foods of varying textures in each compartment and let them explore. For messy outdoor play, why not pop bubs into an empty, clean kid's pool and place things like whipped cream, cooked rice or pasta, berries and other "messy" foods for them to explore, squish and eat without a care in the world. Remember to ensure anything placed in the pool is safe for little mouths and keep an eye out for any choking hazards.   

Check Out Your Local Bush and Bike Tracks 

New Zealand is renowned for its spectacular (and free) bush trails and bike tracks. Why not get out and explore them with your little ones? There are plenty to choose from, and many of them are child-friendly. It's just a matter of picking one close by! The great thing about many NZ tracks is the thick forest coverings, so while sunblock and hats are still a must, you won't be having to vie for shade the whole time. Don't forget to bring plenty of water and snacks as well, as many tracks have little clearings that are the perfect place for an impromptu picnic or rest. 

Backyard Treasure Hunt!  

You don't need to go out to have fun! There are a few ways you could go about this one – either select things from around the house to hide or, alternatively, organise a photo treasure hunt. This is a bit more like a scavenger hunt, where kids will need to take a photo with specific things e.g. "photograph something soft", "take a photo with something blue", "photograph yourself next to something taller than you", and so on. If they're too little to take the photo themselves, you can help them out - the plus side to this activity is you'll hopefully have some cute photos to look back on later. If you'd prefer to hide things around the house and have more than one child, have one of your little ones help draw a map of your backyard/house/front yard. Then mark each hiding spot with an "x", and have the other child find the items. To make things fair, you could repeat the activity, and each child can have a turn to draw/search for treasure. You could even time them if you wanted, to give it a bit more excitement!   

Backyard Obstacle Course! 

This one is so easy to do because you can create obstacles out of anything you have lying around at home! Make the course as long or as short as you like. You could even include indoor/outdoor sections for some added appeal. For older kids, things like chairs, couches, outdoor playsets and paddling pools (under supervision) could be a fun way to add extra challenges to the course. Perhaps you'd like to incorporate some prizes for the fastest time or the most interesting method used to get over/under particular obstacles! For smaller kids, things like hula hoops, skipping ropes/hoses and pillows could be added as safe but fun obstacles.  

Whatever you do this summer, chances are your little one just wants to spend time with you. This could be as simple as reading a book on a blanket in the shade or making cookies together. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to make the activity as creative or fun as possible; just hanging out with you is enough for your little one.