We’ve just returned to Wellington after two months in the United Kingdom spending time with family and friends.
One of the many blessings of a long trip away from home is the space for planning and reflecting, while still distant. I spent some time while in the UK thinking about how I want to spend my time over the next few months, particularly with SBJ, and I thought I’d crowdsource some help from you guys.
So here is some brainstorming of out-of-the-house things that we like to do for an hour, an afternoon or a day with a toddler. It’s based firmly in Wellington, New Zealand, but those from elsewhere will have plenty to add that’s relevant, and the list will be adaptable to your locality, I would think. Please add your ideas in the comments below!
To keep things manageable, let’s start with indoor things for rainy, windy days. Yes, I know that going out in gumboots is also an important part of childhood, and, as my brother-in-law and I were saying through the rain at our local playground in Bath, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes… but still. This is a list of things for gale force days when you don’t want to get wet or blown away.
Rainy Day Adventures
Te Papa (the national museum) has four kids’ Discovery Centres with all sorts of elaborate hands-on fun, as well as the main exhibits. And of course the stairs are plentiful and awesome, for those of us just mastering them.
All library branches run free storytimes and ‘rock and rhyme’ baby sessions, though we have never once managed to get to one on time. Wellington Central Library is full of big bright things to climb on, too, so our time there has often resembled Kindy Gym, as a posse of newfound friends chase each other around the furniture.
Speaking of which, Tuesday mornings at Kindy Gym ($4.50 or a ten-trip ticket for a bit less per visit) at the Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua are a highlight of the week, where dozens of pre-schoolers climb, run, throw balls and generally go mad. There’s a parachute-based music session as part of it, but usually we spend that time on the obstacle courses the staff set up out of gym equipment. They also run a bunch of other things for littlies.
After Kindy Gym, we always crash Angela and Rachel’s ritual visit to Pataka next door, where there’s a library with toys as well as books in the art gallery with a specially designed children’s room, the Tuatara Gallery, full of fabulous things to explore. These are arranged around a central atrium with a kid-friendly cafe and, most popular of all, an empty stage to renegade around on. All of this is free, including the parking, and it fills an entire morning with variety and fun.
My husband has taken SBJ to the Carter Observatory, which will presumably only get more interesting for him as he gets older. Junglerama (Newtown and Seaview) and Chipmunks (Tawa and somewhere else) are indoor playgrounds that cost money but regularly have vouchers on GrabOne. There are probably others, but I’ve only been to three, and would rate them (for newness, cleanliness, convenience, etc) in this order: Tawa, Seaview, Newtown.
Cafes with significant indoor play areas (more than just a toybox), that are good for both adults and kids and are on our regular circuit include Karori Park Cafe, Brooklyn (update: now called Zaida’s), Floyd’s and Rata Cafe at Zealandia (menu now much improved, too), See City Wrigglers’ extensive list for more, but these are our faves at the moment.
Having said that, when I’m with another adult too (so there’s more energy for chasing and entertaining), plenty of other cafes that don’t particularly aim to be kid-friendly are great to be in. As long as the staff are lovely, there’s usually plenty to keep SBJ interested and us sane, so honourable mention to Midnight Espresso, Arthur’s, Maranui, Kaizen, Prefab, the Southern Cross and Queen Sally’s Diamond Deli. Hm. I’m having to resist providing detailed commentary on each of these beloved places. Perhaps I need a whole nother post on cafes and kids… The ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie and the Kilbirnie pool both apparently have great indoor play spaces, so they’re on the list to try out.
Swimming pools generally are always great for our family. When we lived downtown there was a small pool in our building and SBJ used it every couple of days. We’ll need to get a pass for whatever is closest when we get settled in a house here.
I’d really like to join a Mainly Music group, but I do find their lack of centralised info online daunting. You mean I have to telephone someone at each church to find out what’s on when? One day I’ll manage that…
Well, what are lists for but creating debate? What have I missed? If you’re in another place, what’s on your rainy day outing list?
If you’d like to write a full post on your hometown, I’d love to hear from you, so leave a note in the comments or contact me by email.