June 25, 2024

Summer is not the only time we can stay busy and try new activities. Winter is full of opportunities to have fun, keep your energy levels up and prevent feeling bored or restless.

We’ve come up with a list that offers something for all ages and abilities to put some wow into winter this year – pick a few that spark your interest.

  • Start a jumbo jigsaw puzzle – this is great way to get the whole family off their devices, away from TV and collaborating on a fun activity that will challenge everyone’s brains. If you don’t have a great deal of space, grab a puzzle roll mat from The Warehouse so it’s easy to put the jigsaw away and get it out again.
  • Get your bake on – having the oven on will warm up the house and kids love making (and eating) yummy cakes and biscuits. Or try baking bread with Te Atatu Toasted mueslis – we have a recipe for a gluten-free loaf and an everyday grainy bread. Fill the house with the smell of freshly made bread, then enjoy a slice or two with a hearty winter soup.
  • Go for a hike – crisp, clear winter days are perfect for tramping. It will get the blood pumping, expose you to some vitamin D and it’s a chance to explore new walks in your area.
  • Camp overnight in the living room or garage. This is a favourite with kids big and small. Set up a pup tent, throw in a blow-up mattress and pull out the sleeping bags. Do everything by torchlight and, if you have older children, you could tell spooky stories (here are some kid-friendly ones). The best part is once everyone is asleep, the adults can retire to the comfort of their own bed.
  • Do a polar bear plunge – a mid-winter swim in the sea is very invigorating. Either join an organised event or just head to the beach. Remember to stay safe and never swim alone.
  • Have a mid-winter Christmas with your friend group. Often at Christmas we are spending time with family so take the opportunity to get together with friends and enjoy all those traditional festive-season foods made to be eaten in winter.
  • Head to a local roller-skating or ice-skating rink. You will be indoors out of the weather, and it’s heaps of fun. You will be able to hire skates and some rinks even offer lessons.
  • Plant some winter flowers to add colour to your world and say goodbye to grey days. Hellebores (winter roses), pansies, camellias, viloas, snapdragon and cornflowers are all good options. Get some advice from your local garden centre on what would work for your climate.
  • Get tickets to a sports event or just wrap up warmly, head to a nearby sports club and support your local team. It’s a great way to meet new people in your area.
  • Have your own film festival over a wet weekend – choose a theme (musical movies, scary movies, happily-ever-after movies, Disney movies) and let everyone choose one movie for the entire family to watch.
  • Hit your local indoor rock-climbing wall. It’s a fab way to do something active without being exposed to the elements.
  • Make a bird feeder. Natural seed sources are depleted in winter, and your backyard birds will appreciate you creating them a snack. Check out these project ideas or get on Google for inspiration.
  • Find a café or a bar with a fireplace as your new winter hangout – it’s a great way to get a change of scenery when you feel like you have been cooped up at home. Take a book, meet friends or just enjoy a wine or a coffee and some people watching.
  • Have a pyjama Sunday. No one has to get dressed – you can just spend the day lounging around in your PJs. It feels very indulgent.
  • Go stargazing – it gets dark earlier in winter so it’s easier to spend time with the stars. Take the family to your local observatory or just drive out of town to somewhere with few houses and no street lighting. If you opt for DIY stargazing, download an app to help you work out what you are looking at. Auckland’s Stardome and Te Awamutu Space Centre also have some resources that might be helpful.
  • Start a book club. Winter is the perfect time to read something new. Find some book-loving friends, take turns picking a title, then get together once a month for a discussion. You might even talk about the book. 😊
  • Create your own escape room at home. This is a fun family activity for a wet day. Escape Room Geeks has a step-by-step guide or get some hints from this 40 DIY Escape Room Ideas at Home
  • Carve out some time to volunteer. Winter can be a tough time for many people who rely on our charities and there are always events or fundraising drives that need support. Rope in friends and family and make it a fun day out. It’s also tree planting season so look for a local environmental restoration that might need some help. Volunteering New Zealand has some tips on how to find volunteer roles.
  • Go ten pin bowling – this is a great indoor activity and it’s usually not too expensive to hire a lane.
  • Have an arts and craft afternoon. You might like to try painting, jewellery-making, scrapbooking or even give sewing, knitting or crochet a go. Projects with popsicle sticks are good for kids.
  • Have a family campfire – buy a cheap fire pit or brazier from Bunnings or Mitre 10 and set it up outside. You can roast marshmallows over some fun chats. Have everyone share their favourite family holiday or their most embarrassing moment.
  • Take a dance class – you can learn some of the classic ballroom dances, or get your groove on with some Latin dancing. You can even find a hip hop class for all ages.
  • Have a family photo shoot. We tend to take more photos in summer because we are outside more or getting together for family gatherings at Christmas time. Mix it up by making everyone put on their favourite winter jumper, coat or hat and take some playful photos at a local park.
  • Visit a gallery or museum. Many are free for locals and you can sign up for their email newsletters to find out about new exhibitions or events.
  • Learn a new card game. Five Crowns is fun and you can pick up a deck online or at your local bookstore. Or head online to find games you can play with a standard deck of cards.
  • Perfect your new favourite winter drink – it might be mulled wine (check out this recipe from Annabelle Langbein), decadent hot chocolate or a dirty chai latte.
  • Go on a glow-worm hunt, I love this list of glow-worm caves and want to do them all but we actually ended up doing one not on this list. Ninety minutes from Auckland at Nikau Cave and Cafe. You can do it as a day trip from Auckland or they do have some accommodation available.
  • Treat yourself to high tea – find a local restaurant or hotel that offers it or make your own at home and invite the neighbours over.
  • Visit a local library. Libraries aren’t just about books these days – they are more like a community hub. They often host events and talks, classes and after school clubs. Sometimes you can borrow music, movies and magazines as well as books.
  • Set up a DIY disco at home – getting your body moving is great for energy and will warm you up. Let everyone contribute some tunes to the playlist.
  • Set up a home spa. If you don’t have a bath, soak your feet in a tub of hot water with bath salts or oils. Give yourself a pedicure, manicure and a facial.
  • Build a cosy indoor fort. Gather a bunch of blankets and rearrange your furniture. Then throw in some cushions. It will keep kids amused for hours so you can either join in the fun or make the most of the time you have to read a book or watch an episode of your favourite TV show.
  • Print off photos from your phone. You’ll have fun looking back on all the great memories and winter is the perfect time to make albums or put photos in frames to display around your house.
  • Turn your living room into an obstacle course and practice your parkour skills.
  • Head to the local hot pools or an indoor pool complex near you. Relaxing in warm water is like taking a little tropical holiday.
  • Organise a family games night or invite friends over to play board games, charades or even that old favourite Twister. Make sure you have loads of drinks and snacks on hand.
  • Sign up for an art class or a pottery class and explore your creative side.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt. If it’s a nice day, you can wrap up and head outside. If it’s really wet or cold, set up a hunt for treasures that can be found in the house.
  • Redesign your living room or bedroom. Move the furniture around, add some new cushions and experiment with living in a new space.
  • Plan your next holiday – whether it’s a quick break overseas somewhere warm or you are looking at options for next summer, thinking about getting away is a real mood booster.
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