We’re lucky enough to live in a country with a climate that still allows us to get out and about, no matter the season. With that said, there’s inevitably a point in winter when it’s much nicer to ignore the weather outside and stay indoors with the heat pump cranked. However, as anyone with kids will tell you, when you’re all cooped up inside it doesn’t take long before cabin fever well and truly sets in!

If you’re wondering how to conquer those indoor days while winter New Zealand wide makes going outdoors a bleak prospect, don’t worry — we have you covered! Below we’ve assembled a tonne of boredom busting activities for toddlers, kids and preteens (and even adults!) that will keep them busy and entertained throughout the winter months.

Indoor Activity Ideas For Kids of all Ages

It can be hard to figure out activities that’ll keep kids of all ages entertained but don’t despair, it is possible! While some of the activities below will need to be altered depending on age and ability, these are great ideas for toddlers through to teens.

Bake up a Storm

New Zealanders love a good biscuit or slice and many of them can be made using simple baking recipes. NZ classics such as Anzac biscuits, lolly cake, Belgian biscuits and banana cake are appropriate for bakers of all ages and produce a yummy treat at the end.

Baking with kids is also a great opportunity to hone all types of skills from maths and reading through to patience and awareness around hot ovens and sharp knives. Not to mention the fun of bonding as you create something together. If your children are young, give them tasks like pouring and mixing, before working up to measuring, rolling, cutting shapes and using beaters, ovens and microwaves.

Relax, Snuggle and Watch a Movie

When the weather is terrible there’s nothing quite like cozying up and watching a good film. If you’re looking to maximise comfort levels while watching a movie, build a fort to bunk down in beforehand, or drag out a mattress and a few duvets to create the ultimate movie-watching nest. Now that’s something you won’t get at the cinema!

If you’ve been baking, now is the perfect time to crack into your treats, or if not dig out some popcorn to munch on. Once the film is on, all that’s left to do is enjoy — whether that’s the silence of the kids being entertained or the film itself, you decide!

Bring in Reinforcements!

If you feel like you’ve worked your way through as many activities as you can muster for the time being, invite over a friend with children and let the kids entertain themselves while the two of you sneak a quiet cup of tea. And, with the kids having expelled some energy with their friends, hopefully that means a quiet bedtime as well!

Get Crafty

Everyone loves the feeling of making something from scratch, whether it’s a cake or artwork! Having some arts and craft materials stashed away is an easy win during rainy days and can be tailored for kids of all ages. Not only are there unlimited easy crafts for kids but the result could be given as a gift to family or friends —  or receive the prized position on the fridge. 

If you’re game to allow painting indoors then set up some paints and paper and let the kids go wild, or plan for a bigger project like writing their own newspaper or making a papier-mâché creation. If you have a birthday coming up, suggest a DIY piñata — you could do a simple balloon shape, or something a little more elaborate like a pig, a penguin or use two balloons to make a heart.

For kids that like mixing, squishing and creating, homemade playdough will be a big winner. Playdough is one of the best activities for toddlers (at home or at kindy) because they not only get to play with the dough but help create it as well. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container afterwards — and be careful around hair (or fur!).

Older kids might enjoy the challenge of cross stitch, knitting or embroidery, especially if the design is relevant to their interests. Stitching crafts have become quietly popular with a younger crowd and there are plenty of patterns for popular TV shows, movies and games to be found. Head to Etsy to find a cool starter pattern, read or watch some good beginner guides on how to follow the patterns and use the thread and hoops, then get started!

Play a Few Games

Puzzles and board games are absolute rainy day classics. Get out every puzzle and board or card game in the house and see what your options are. You could clear a huge space and put together as many puzzles as the kids can handle, or perhaps settle in for a couple of hours and commit to a game like Monopoly, Mouse Trap or Trivial Pursuit. 

Playing games as a family does have the potential to end in tears, so this is probably an activity best left for when everyone is in good spirits. However, for those days when the kids need a little solo time, try teaching them to play solitaire, or set them up with a challenging puzzle. If you don’t have many games or puzzles at home but do have a tablet or iPhone, downloading a kid-friendly game will quickly solve that problem. Alternatively, visit your local library before the bad weather hits — in addition to all those books they’ll also have stacks of games available to borrow as well.

Brave the Cold

There’s only so long you can be expected to stay indoors before you need some fresh air — even if that means potentially being rained on. For times when it feels as though you haven’t been outside in an age, wrap up warm and plan a trip to a local park or beach. While you probably don’t want to wander too far from shelter on a rainy winter’s day, bad weather does create perfect puddle jumping and driftwood gathering conditions, so heading outside could be the ideal boredom buster.

Don’t Want to Stay at Home? Activities to Try During Winter

If staying home throughout the entirety of winter sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, there are plenty of activities that will get you and the kids out and about as well. From sports to spectating, winter in New Zealand is still a time with plenty going on.

Become Ski Bunnies

New Zealand’s diverse landscape and climate means we have some amazing ski resorts in both the North and South Islands. Our ski fields are well known for being family friendly and hitting the slopes can be a great day for the whole family. Areas such as Mt Ruapehu’s Happy Valley or Cardrona’s Learner Conveyer tunnel are ideal for beginners and many ski resorts offer package deals for first time skiers or snowboarders. Most ski resorts also offer kids ski lessons, as well as childcare facilities — great for when you want to squeeze in a few more runs while the kids wind down nearby. 

Watch a Movie at the Local Cinema 

While watching a movie at home in front of the heat pump might be cosier, there’s nothing quite like settling in with a bucket of popcorn to watch a new release. Check out the listing for your local cinema and find a film the whole family will enjoy.

Alternatively, check if any shows are in town that you and your kids might enjoy, New Zealand has no shortage of talent, so there’s usually some sort of play, ballet or concert happening nearby, especially in the major centres.

Take Your Kids to Watch Live Sport

Winter has always been a big sports season in New Zealand and kids love going along to watch a live game, whether it’s rugby, netball, basketball or anything else! Tickets for sporting events can be reasonably priced for kids, especially if you go to early season games and opt for the cheaper seats. Depending on the venue you may also be able to take advantage of family deals as well. 

Visit the Pool or Hot Springs

While swimming and relaxing at the beach may be out of the question for most of us in winter, NZ has many indoor pools dotted throughout the country — not to mention more than its fair share of thermal hot springs! An outing at the pool can easily take up a whole day, especially with inflatables, hydro-slides and wave pools in the mix. And at the end of a day filled with swimming, the whole household are guaranteed a great night’s sleep!

HRV wants Kiwis to enjoy winter New Zealand wide. Keep an eye on our articles as we release more tips for getting the most out of this winter.