Celebrate NZ Children’s Day in the Waitaki

Once upon a time there was a small girl and a small boy who visited the same playground in their village every Te Rā O Ngā Tamariki – Children’s Day. Come March 7th, the two would slide and swing and seesaw. But this year, something was different. They knew every dent in the red slide. They knew how high they could swing. They knew the seesaw didn’t see or saw anymore. The girl and the boy wanted a new adventure. A big, grand, hold your breath and release it in a scream and a holler type of adventure, the sort of adventure they read about in books.
“Do places like that even exist?” The boy asked.
“Let’s find out!” The girl said, running to their whānau. “Where can we go? Where can we go to have an adventure?”
Their mother looked at their father and their father looked at their mother. Their eyes lit up, “To the Waitaki we go!”

Visit Kākānui

All Day Bay is a long and sheltered beach perfect for a family day out. Whether you stroll the sand or create a castle, it’s a picture perfect coastline. Sandcastlers take note, the beach is golden and crunchy on the surface, courtesy of much sea salt, and powdery when you wriggle your toes into the warmth. You can also explore the rockpools around here, the hangout for crabs and cockabillies. Swelling and crashing, the waves at Kākānui are the stuff surfer’s dream of. Closer to the shore, the waves provide much joy for experienced boogie boarders.

A mere two minute drive away you will find the Kākānui Esplanade Playground. With stunning views of the sea, the swings here will elicit countless squeals of excitement!

Experience Steampunk

Steampunk HQ, at the edge of Ōamaru’s Victorian Precinct, is a museum where you are actually encouraged to pull levers, spin steel wheels, take photos and explore each and every curious corner. The Portal will be a magical encounter for your youngest. Future inventors, engineers, and artists will love examining the Victorian world gone a little mad. There’s more than one skull to be found in the dark here…

To experience the world of steampunk in the shiny light of day head down to Friendly Bay in Ōamaru and let loose on the world class steampunk playground. There’s a climbing ladder, giant elephant (yes, you read that right), pirate ship, and iconic penny farthing swing set to keep little and big kids occupied.

The Sweetest Pitstop


Need we say more.

A trip to Rainbow Confectionery in Ōamaru, the only confectionery manufacturer of scale in New Zealand, is a must. They make and sell the most iconic Kiwi lollies: Choc Coated Baby Fish, Classic Milk Bottles, Classic Pineapple Chunks, Fizzies. Gooey or gummy, they’ll have it by the ton. The bags of goodness are so big they’ll last you a month…a week…at least.

Take a Photo at the Moeraki Boulders

Strange and spherical, the Moeraki Boulders might make you think of giant gobstoppers or massive dinosaur eggs. These natural wonders formed over millions and millions of years, and now, when the tide is just right you can head down to perfect your ‘I just hatched’ photo poses!

See Kurow

The views at the top of Kurow Hill are like a painting you might find in a gallery or Grandma’s living room—delightfully pastoral. You can see pickle and pear coloured grasslands, small town rooftops, and mountains in the distance. It’s a good workout for the tweens but those with younger children may not want to slog it up the steep track for 45 minutes to two hours. Luckily, a little levity (in the form of a cute playground) lies at the bottom of the hill.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Stretch your legs and have a family meander through Oamaru’s Public Gardens. You can zigzag your way across bridges to the Rose Garden. You might find yourself in the Wonderland Garden. Or the bird aviary. In the heart of the gardens, there’s a playground and BBQs available for use. The grass might tickle your legs but there are plenty of picnic tables dotted around for you to enjoy a long lunch that lasts all afternoon.

Enjoy the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony

Have you ever seen 200 of the world’s smallest penguins scrabbling, climbing, and waddling ashore to nest for the night? No?! If you’ve never met Ōamaru’s cutest residents be sure to head to the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony, a five minute drive from the township, and settle in for an evening viewing. They operate viewings every night of the week, year-round so you can return again and again to check in on your favourite penguins (korora).

Walk Along Trotters Gorge

Spend a day (or a night) immersed in nature at Trotters Gorge. Your family can walk Trotters Cave Walk or Trotters Creek Track (both 30 minutes one way) to discover kanuka, ribbonwood, kowhai forests and a magical grouping of river sculpted caves. You can even bring Fido on a leash, so no one is left out!

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