School Holidays In The Bay

School holidays are the time to ditch the routine and discover new ways to relax, connect and have fun as a family. A beach holiday in the Bay of Plenty could be just what you need – think sunshine, outdoor adventure, parks and playgrounds, yummy food and unique attractions you’ll never forget!

This region offers so much more than sand and surf (although the beach is pretty great, even in winter). Here are our top picks for family fun in the Bay these school holidays.

Experience a night time glow worm kayak tour with Waimarino


Splash out on a family-size treat and book a wildlife tour with Dolphin Seafaris. You’ll see seals, penguins, albatross, whales and majestic dolphins at home in their natural habitat. Or splash out on a paddle across tranquil Lake McLaren as the sun sets during Waimarino’s Evening Glow Worm Kayak Tour. This is guaranteed to wow all ages as you discover a hidden canyon brimming with luminescent glow worms. Truly magical. 

If you’re after something more low-key, enjoy a soak at the Mount Hot Pools and let your kids loose on the mini water slide. The Bay’s most famous ice-cream shop, Copenhagen Cones, is right across the road and you can enjoy a stroll around Mauao or along Pilot Bay before or after. Kids will also love the hydro slide, wave pool and new Aqua Station play area at Baywave where they can splash to their heart’s content.

Explore Tauranga Moana on the historic Kewpie; jump onboard their scheduled 1-hour cruise, sit back, relax and take in the sights. You can choose to stay on board for the whole hour, or stop off on Matakana and get picked up by the Kewpie on one of their later stops.



Visit BayActive and put your aim to the test in a round of laser tag or paintball. Explore Rocktopia for some indoor rock climbing fun or have a good old family battle at Tenpin Tauranga followed by arcade games. 

In a virtual world, anything is possible and the Bay has a fantastic experience your family will love. The Cave is every gamer’s dream venue. You can explore new worlds, go head-to-head on racing simulators and enjoy retro gaming arcades. Solo and multiplayer games are available for ages 8-years and up.

If you're up for a mental challenge, check out New Zealand's largest escape room experience, Escape Rooms Tauranga, where you've got 90 minutes to work as a team or save yourself from your family to find the way out!  

GS Wide angle in use shot


Tauranga alone has more than 100 playgrounds scattered around the city to choose from. From swing bridges, tunnels and slides to flying foxes and climbing structures, the playgrounds in Tauranga are sure to offer endless fun and adventures for kids of all ages. If your kids are more into skateboarding or kickboarding, there are some fantastic skate parks and pump tracks in the Bay of Plenty where they can showcase their skills and have a blast rolling around the ramps and jumps. Check out Gordon Spratt Reserve in Pāpāmoa, or Blake Park in Mount Maunganui. 

If you're seeking a unique experience to enjoy with your little ones, explore the whimsical realm of Maggie's Funtastic Garden near Edgecumbe. Here, artist and sculptor Maggie Fenton has created two acres of themed gardens that are sure to delight kids.

DSCN0149 web


If your kids are into planes, make sure you visit the Classic Flyers aviation museum. Classic aircraft – some of which you can climb in and out of – are displayed in a huge open hanger alongside vintage memorabilia. Marshalls Animal Park is another long-time favourite here in the Bay. Children can feed and play with all sorts of farmyard animals and check out emus, ostriches, Texas longhorns, Clydesdales and miniature horses, just to name a few. Katikati Bird Gardens is also popular with families. Let your kids run around this wide open space alongside many varieties of birds, some of which wander free while others are in aviaries scattered throughout the gardens.

Family enjoying fish n chips on the wharf


The Bay has some wonderful campgrounds and beachside accommodation, so hire a campervan, pitch a tent, book a cabin or rent a bach for the school holidays. Upmarket hotels and motels are a great option too.

Awesome playgrounds are always within easy reach. If you’re staying at Mount Maunganui, visit Hopukiore (Mount Drury) for a good run around. Or if you’re on the other side of the bridge, Memorial Park or the Tauranga Waterfront playground are always popular. The latter is also home to the famed Hairy Maclary bronze sculptures which your kids will love climbing all over.

Family-friendly dining options are easy to find – check out Astrolabe, The Island, Barrio Brothers, The Redoubt Bar & Eatery, Grindz Café, CBK Craft Beer Kitchen and Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market for some laid-back fare with plenty of room for kids to be kids.