• The Lake House Arts school holiday programme offers a wide variety of age-specific creative activities

Curing the school holiday boredom blues

“I’m bored.” “I’ve got nothing to do.” It’s a familiar holiday refrain. But there is a genuine issue, especially for working parents. What to do with the kids while you maintain your work schedule? It’s time now to think about how best to cater to the needs (and wants) of your school-aged offspring during the often wet and cold July holidays. Christine Young looks at some of the local – and low-cost – options on the Shore

A week-long school holiday programme might sound fun – and tempting – but you might also want to spend some of the precious school-free days with your kids. Before looking at all-week programmes, what about finding out what’s on offer at your local library?

Most days, holidays or not, Auckland’s public libraries are filled with people not only reading or browsing through the books, but accessing the internet, researching family histories, or working quietly, alongside preschoolers enjoying Wriggle and Rhyme, Rhymetime, Storytime and other activities. In school holidays, libraries are positively bristling with energy as kids and their parents enjoy some of the many school holiday activities. Here on the Shore, the libraries in Albany Village, Birkenhead, Devonport, East Coast Bays, Glenfield, Northcote and Takapuna have programmes that complement the school holiday programmes based at the various leisure centres and community centres.  At the time of writing exact times and details were to be confirmed but there will be plenty going on and specific details will be on the Auckland Libraries website or available from your local library

At Devonport Library, says Senior Librarian – Children & Youth Rani Marsh-Fenton, “these holidays we will be making manu tukutuku (kites) and whetū (star) bunting, planting seeds in recycled containers to help encourage tamariki to grow their own food and spend time with family. We will also be having students from the University of Auckland visiting to teach us all about Matariki and stars in the wider more scientific sense.”

The July school holidays at Takapuna Library are extensive, and also all about Matariki, and spending time with whanau. Activities take place not only on weekdays but also over the holiday weekends, allowing whanau to share the activities. All events are at 10.30am unless otherwise noted.

“Come and learn how to make poi on Sunday 7 July, then use them at our Matariki Reo Māori Rhymetime on Monday 8 July,” says James Dunning, Senior Librarian – Children's and Youth Services. “We’ll have a family board game day on Wednesday 10 July, chess club on Sunday 14 July at 2pm, and a paper plane competition on Monday 15 July,” he adds. If your kids like crafting, they can make badges themed around the whetu on Friday 12 July, bookmarks with tukutuku patterns on Sunday 14 July, constellation boxes on Wednesday 17 July, and photo frames on Friday 19 July. There are movies every Saturday, and special Matariki story times on Saturdays and Sundays at 2.30pm. Plus there’s Takapuna Library’s latest Childrens’ Writers Festival on Sunday 21 July with local authors Rose Stanley and Hydie Balle-Hands.

Matariki is also the focus for Glenfield Library which has a detailed programme available that includes fun activities in Glenfield Mall with the Glenfield Library team from 10am-3pm on Thursdays, movie and popcorn time on Wednesdays and creative and craft activities that range from weaving in Māori colours and styles, sewing with hessian, creating a folded Matariki star, turning your favourite old t-shirt into a library book bag and working with clay to create a small tiki. There’s also a focus on recycling with a “sow and reap” session and creating from recyclable resources. Library-based sessions start at either 10am or 2pm (except Thursdays) on weekdays, and there’s even a Saturday session at 2pm so working whanau can join in.


Many of the Shore’s 13 community hubs and houses, and Auckland Council leisure centres also offer school holiday options. We highlight some options below, but you can also check out what’s available at your local community centre. Glenfield Community Centre helpfully has a list of all community houses and hubs on its website resources section at https://gcc.net.nz/resources/other-centres/.

Some offer all-day or all-week options – a boon for working parents/whanau.  For example, the Bayview Community Centre offers a full-time holiday programme that operates from 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with flexible drop-off and pick-up times. The standard pricing is $35 per day per child, with a limited-time early bird price.

Sunnynook Community Centre offers a programme for 5-8 year-olds with activities including a structured art and craft project, child-directed arts and crafts, organised sport or active group games, an organised group quiet game or activity, and free play either indoors or outdoors.  A youth programme for 9-13 year-olds encompasses arts, crafts, jigsaw puzzles, board games, baking, sports and outdoor walks. Students can also bring their own devices, though time on these will be limited. Both programmes run from 8am to 3.30pm and cost $31 per day per child, with extra charges for any trips and special activities, which are detailed in the programme available from the centre.

Lesisure centres on the Shore include the Glenfield, Birkenhead and Takapuna Pool and Leisure Centres, the East Coast Bays Leisure Centre, the Y North Shore Recreation Centre in Northcote and the Beach Haven Sports Centre, a multi-sport facility with futsal, tennis, squash, hockey, touch and volleyball facilities. At the Beach Haven Sports C entre you can use the outside courts (hockey, futsal, tennis, etc.) for drop-in, unbooked use on a first-come, first-served basis – ideal for older teenagers during the holidays. If there is no paid booking scheduled, you can use the courts for no charge. 

Auckland Council provides school holiday programmes at East Coast Bays and Birkenhead leisure centres. The programme for 5 to 13-year-olds at East Coast Bays Leisure Centre in Browns Bay promises a programme ranging from from “talent shows, dancing and singing to crafts, cooking, baking and brain teasers plus at least one field trip each week to places like the local library, the beach, skating rink or the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)”. The programme generally runs from 8am-5pm, but at the time of writing no detail was available. Check out the website: https://aucklandleisure.co.nz/locations/east-coast-bays-leisure-centre/#programmes.

Birkenhead boasts that it’s “the only Auckland Council centre which runs both outdoor education and school holiday programmes – this means you get to choose from a huge range of activities!” The school holiday programme for 5 to 13-year-olds includes activities including archery, bush survival skills, cooking, crafts, a high ropes course, games and free play, navigation and map reading, rock climbing and sports. The centre says it’s also “lucky enough to have two big fields, a playground, a skate park and a pump track onsite”. The programme runs from 9am to 3pm. Before-programme care is available from 8am to 9am, and after-programme care from 3pm to 6pm. Activities range in price, depending on each day’s programme. Details of the July programme will be available during June. Check out https://www.aucklandleisure.co.nz/locations/birkenhead-pool-and-leisure-centre#programmes.

For the creatively inclined, Lake House Arts Centre offers what it describes as “a laid-back yet enriching holiday programme for your kids and teens” aged 6-16. Age-specific sessions are led by skilled tutors with expertise in art and performance. The programme includes games, social activities and competitions, collaborative arts, crafts, theatre games and more – a blend of structured activities that fuel creativity, build confidence, and forge connections through team projects. “It's not your average holiday programme,” says manager Grae Burton. “It's a pocket-friendly adventure packed with genuine experiences and real growth.”

Kids are invited to bring Posca Pens or their favourite colour pencils, books and digital devices – but no paints please – for either or both of two sessions per day ($17.50 per session). If they are staying for the full day, an additional $12.50 lunch supervision fee applies. Bookings are now open, with details and session times on the Lake House Arts website.

There’s plenty more on right across the Shore and sure to be something to cure every child’s boredom – and solve their adults’ “what to do with the children’ dilemmas, so make the most of what’s on offer to enjoy a fun-filled and productive winter holiday this year.