10 free things to do with kids in Whangārei this summer

Published on 07 December 2023

Collage showing various free activities to do with kids in Whangārei.

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your kids in Whangārei and make memories together that will last a lifetime.

Here are 10 free things to do with your kids this summer that will keep them happy and entertained.

1: Whananaki footbridge

Walk the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere at Whananaki. Look for fish swimming past in the clear waters below and stop for ice cream at the Whananaki General Store. Once you’ve visited the bridge you can picnic in the nearby reserve or carry on to one of the beautiful white sandy beaches further north.

Bonus activity: manu off the bridge if you're brave enough - just make sure you check the tides first!

Map to Whananaki footbridge (maps.google.com)

A mother and her kids standing on Whananaki footbridge.

2: Pohe Island bike park

Bikers riding on wooden steps with mural in the background on beginner skills track at Bike Park on Pohe Island.

Pack the bikes, scooters, and skateboards and take the kids for some fun on wheels at the Pohe Island Bike Park. This ‘one-stop' cycling destination features a traffic and bike skills track for beginners as well as a world-class pump track.  

Bonus activity: slide down the tallest slide in Whangārei District at the all-ages Pohe Island Playground next door.

Map to Pohe Island Bike Park (maps.google.com)

3: Fishing for sprats on the Hātea Loop

A young boy with an old man fishing at the Hatea Loop holding fish rods.

Try your luck fishing from this easily accessible spot in the central city. Free parking is available at the Bascule Carpark, next to Te Matau a Pohe bridge, on the corner of Port Road and Dave Culham Drive. Walk along the Hatea Loop for a short distance to reach the small wharf pictured.  

Bonus activity: be there at 12 lunchtime to watch New Zealand’s largest lifting bridge raise up, and wave to the boats passing by.

Map to fishing ramp on Hātea Loop (maps.google.com)

4: Swings and snorkels at Reotahi

Photo showing a reserve and playground on Norfolk Avenue, part of the Reotahi Coastal Walk.

The nautical-inspired playground at Norfolk Avenue, Reotahi, features swings, a climbing tower, monkey bars, a big slide and more. Adults will enjoy the stunning views out over the ocean and port and there is plenty of space for picnics and for the kids to run off steam. Pack your togs and masks and snorkels and make a day of it at the neighbouring Reotahi Marine Reserve.


Bonus activity: get up close and personal with a free guided snorkelling experience with EMR - check out their community day snorkel calendar:

EMR snorkel calendar (emr.org.nz)

Map to Norfolk Avenue playground (maps.google.com)

5: Night time adventures

Kids enjoying water play at night

Enjoy a night-time glow-worm spotting outing along the nearby Parihaka’s Ross Track. Park at the end of Dundas Road and walk up the track for about five minutes until you reach the entrance to an old gold mine on the right of the track. Along the track and inside you’ll find glow worms and if you’re lucky you might even see a cave weta. Torches or head lamps a must.

Pūtahi Park

Bonus activity: Get wet and wild with a night-time splash at Putahi Park in the Town Basin where the fountain is lit up with joyful displays of colour.

Map to Pūtahi Park (maps.google.com)

6: Play and picnic at Marsden Bay Reserve

Photo of children on play equipment at the playground at Marsden Bay reserve, One Tree Point.

Marsden Bay Reserve offers beach access and stunning views across the harbour to Whangārei Heads. There are plenty of shady picnic spots and an engaging playground that will keep the children entertained for hours. The large grass area in front of the playground is perfect for ball play or throwing a frisbee.

Marsden Bay Reserve

Bonus activity: hunt for crabs along the shoreline under the rocks, see how many you can find! Just make sure you put the rocks back so they can scurry home again safely.

Map to Marsden Bay Reserve (maps.google.com)

7: Walk among giants at AH Reed Memorial Park

Two girls looking at a giant kauri tree at A H Reed Memorial Park.

Little legs will cope well with the short loop walk through lush native bush at AH Reed Memorial Park. A spectacular tree top boardwalk stretches across the forest canopy taking in the view of majestic 500-year-old kauri trees. The pretty Wai Koromiko Stream winds its way through the trees.

A H Reed Memorial Park

Bonus activity: do some birds and bug spotting, check out the information signs along the walkway that describe some of the plants and animals that live in the park.

Map to AH Reed Memorial Park (maps.google.com)

8: Swimming and sandcastle building on the Tūtūkākā Coast

Kids climbing down the stairs on a beach at the Tūtūkākā beach.

Matapouri Beach is a glorious stretch of golden sand – perfect for sandcastle building competitions and beach cricket followed by some boogie boarding to cool off. To get there follow the Tutukaka Coast Highway. Other beautiful beach options to try nearby include Kowharewa Bay, Whangaumu Bay (Wellington’s Bay), Woolleys Bay and Sandy Bay.

Matapōuri Beach, Tutukākā Coast

Tutukākā walks

Bonus activity: hunt for multi-coloured shell treasure at Pebbly Bay at the Northern end of Matapouri Beach – extra points if you find a fallen nikau palm leaf and slide down the big hills of the walk across!

Map link to Matapōuri Beach (maps.google.com)

9: Waipū activity zone

An image showing the new Waipu Skatepark at Waipu Activity Zone.

A new skatepark, and children’s playground make for a day of outdoor fun and exploration at Waihoihoi River Park in Waipū. The playground also features a wheelchair swing. The park leads onto the Waipū River Walkway, a community-led project that locals have been transforming with native plantings and weeding. Take a peaceful walk along the banks of the Waihoihoi and Waipū River with the option to loop back along Nova Scotia Drive and explore Waipū Village.

Waipū Activity Zone

Bonus activity: Take good footwear, a torch and check that weather forecast – then head to Waipū Caves to see spectacular stalactites, stalagmites and glow worms.

Map to Waipū activity zone (maps.google.com)

10: Otuihau Whangārei Falls

Image of Otuihau Whangārei Falls showing a man and woman standing in front of the waterfall.

The Instagram worthy Otuihau Whangārei Falls is a great place to take the family for a summer stroll. The view from the lookout over the cascading falls never fails to impress and there is lots of shade on the short loop walkway to the waterfall.

Otuihau Whangārei Falls

Bonus activity: run and kick a ball or fly a kite at the neighbouring Tikipunga Sports Reserve. It has plenty of trees for shade, and makes a great safe picnic spot while watching your kids have fun 

Map to Otuihau Whangārei Falls (maps.google.com)

Have fun!

We hope you enjoyed this list of free things to do with kids this summer in Whangārei. You can try one or more of these activities with your kids, or you can come up with your own ideas.

The most important thing is to have fun and spend some quality time together.