Summer means long weekends and long light evenings, giving us even more opportunity to enjoy fun times with family and friends. But with the cost of living on the increase, it can be difficult to make the budget stretch to expensive outings. We’ve tracked down 21 ideas for fun activities that are either cheap or free, so you can tick them off this summer.
Head to a weekend market. You can usually pick up fruit and vegetables that are fresher and perhaps even cheaper than what’s on offer at the supermarket and there are always loads of new things to see or try. Follow Te Atatu Toasted on Facebook or Instagram to see which markets we will be at each weekend.
Check out what free music or movies are on offer in your area. In Auckland, Movies in Parks runs on Friday and Saturday nights until the end of March and Music in Parks events are on Saturdays and Sundays for the same period. Check out what’s on in your area – if you live outside of Auckland, try a Google search for free outdoor movies and music.
Run your own My Kitchen Rules event at home – this is great if you have older children or teens. Everyone has a turn at creating their own restaurant at home for a dinner or lunch, complete with a theme and their own menu. When it’s the kids turn, the adults might need to pitch in with the food prep and cooking, under the “chef’s” direction of course. Decide whether you are going to run it as a competition with points awarded or maintain family harmony by doing it just for fun.
Visit your local art gallery or museum. Most have at least some exhibitions that are free and the exhibits change regularly. It’s a cheap date or catch up with a friend or you can take the whole family. You can always bribe those that aren’t great lovers of culture with the promise of a post-visit ice-cream or wine.
Go camping at home – put up the tent on the back lawn. (If you don’t have a tent, someone in your neighbourhood Facebook group is sure to have one you can borrow). Play some backyard cricket, make lunch a picnic and dinner a BBQ. You can sleep out under the stars if you want or retire to the comfort of your own bed.
Try some free online workout routines or yoga classes. There are many that are suitable for all ages. We love Yoga with Adrienne – get started with this 17-minute Rainbow Yoga sessionand make sure everyone wears their brightest exercise gear.
Throw a pool party – you don’t even need your own pool. In Auckland, most of the public pools have free admission for children under 16. Let you kids invite a friend or two, pack food and plenty of sunscreen and head to the pool for the day. If you live outside of Auckland, you can find you nearest public pool with a quick online search.
Visit eventfinda to see what’s happening in your local area. You can search by location and event type and even look for events that are free or cost less than $20.
Have a movie day or night at home – this is a great idea for those rainy summer days. Check out new releases on your streaming services or you can rent recently released movies from Google Play or Microsoft for about $5. That’s a bargain given a family pass to the cinemas can be around $60. Stock up on snacks and homemade popcorn for your movie marathon.
Launch a family photographic challenge. Everyone competes to take the best picture of the day, with all competitors getting a vote. Then when winter sets in, you can make a scrapbook or album with all the shots as a memento of the fabulous summer you had.
Devote a day to decluttering – not only will you tidy up the house, garage or shed, you might even find some items you no longer need that you can sell to make some money to pay for a summer outing. Trade Me, Facebook Marketplace and even an old-fashioned garage sale are all simple ways to get rid of unwanted goods that someone else might value.
Host a games night – invite extended family or friends over, set up teams and let the competition begin. Whether it’s Twister, Trivial Pursuits or table tennis, it’s sure to be a lot of fun. I’ve been playing a lot of cards lately and my favourite are Five Crowns and Phase 10. Offering dessert to your guests is cheaper than providing an entire meal or make it pot luck.
Take a tour of your local area. Auckland Free Walking Tours offers a free two to three-hour tour around Downtown and the central city. Who knows what you might learn. A quick Google search will also find free walking tours and self-guided walking tours all around New Zealand.
Volunteer for a day. You could find a local animal shelter or food bank that’s looking for extra hands or simply spend a few hours picking up litter in your neighbourhood or at a local park or beach. It’s a great way to contribute to your local community and create some feel-good vibes.
Try geocaching – this is a real-world global treasure hunt that’s happening all the time. Participants use the Geocaching app or a GPS to find cleverly hidden containers called geocaches. There are millions of geocaches in 190 countries waiting to be discovered—there are probably even some near you right now. Find out more.
If it’s really hot, a water fight is a super fun way to cool down, no matter how old you are. Dig out the water pistols or guns from the toybox or invest in some reusable water balloons. We love EcoSplat Reusable Balloons – they are a bit more expensive but there is no rubbish to pick up, they are better for the environment and can be used over and over again. Or you can make your own reusable water balloons with kitchen sponges.
Join your local library. They offer so much for the whole family – you can check out books or e-books for all ages to read at the beach or in the hammock. They even have audiobooks if you prefer to listen to the latest best-seller. Plus they run a variety of events and programmes throughout the year, including activities for tamariki and teens, workshops and talks, exhibitions and computer classes.
Walk your way through summer (and winter!). Whether you explore your local neighbourhood or head further afield to try some of New Zealand’s beautiful bush walks, this is a cheap, fun activity that’s suitable for all ages and most levels of fitness. Make it more interesting by signing up for Wilderness magazine’s Walk1200km challenge. The idea is to walk 100km a month for 12 months. There are progress trackers to download and a Facebook group you can join.
Embrace your inner artist and create a chalk art competition. Draw your masterpieces on the driveway or share them with your neighbours by turning your footpaths into a canvas for your brilliant chalk creations.
Change up your summer style without spending a fortune by visiting recycle boutiques or second-hand clothing stores. We love re:generate Fashion in the Auckland suburb of Takapuna – they offer carefully curated clothes for the fashion savvy. But every town has at least one good second-fashion outlet.
Last but not least, spend some time at your local beach or freshwater swimming hole. We are spoiled for choice in New Zealand when it comes to safe, clean waterways to enjoy but if you do have concerns you can check out coastal water quality and hazards at Safeswim. Take care of yourself and friends and family – never swim alone and stay between the flags when there are lifeguards on duty.
💥 You deserve to start your day with a low sugar, healthy breakfast cereal.