Top 10 things to do with kids

Local Stories

Ideas for what you can do with the kids?

Jump right into discovering the ‘Top 10 things to do with the kids’ and family on the Matakana Coast.

1. Ti Point Reptile Park

The perfect place for lovers of Jurassic Park, young and old.  Ti Point Reptile Park holds New Zealand’s largest collection of reptiles, displaying over 40 species from Aotearoa and around the globe, located just past Whangateau and before you arrive at the coastal village of Leigh.  Bring your picnic and enjoy the animals and park grounds that are set amongst regenerating native bush with stunning views and bush walks.  Don’t miss out on seeing New Zealand’s own living fossil – the tuatara.  Open at 10am – with last admission at 3pm daily (gates close at 4pm). Family passes available.

Top 10 things to do with kids Ti Point Reptile Park Matakana Coast

2. Treats for all the family 

So who doesn’t love a treat or two and we are not short of a few of these in the Matakana Coast.  What would a Top 10 list be without showcasing some of our favourites t0 visit with the kids.  Charlies Gelato is open everyday 10-5. They make small batch gelato and sorbetto on site with over 40 flavours to choose from. Visit Charlies Gelato, grab a treat and sit amongst the vines or visit their neighbour Slow Blooms where you can wander their gardens and pick flowers to take home with you!

Top 10 things to do with kids Charlies Gelato Matakana CoastWho doesn’t love Chocolate??? We have two of the best here in the Matakana Coast, Chocolate Brown in Warkworth where you walk in the door and feel like you’re stepping into a vintage sweet shop full of delightful surprises of not only chocolate but a scrummy array of sweets.  Enjoy a complimentary chocolate tasting while watching the Chocolatiers at work.  Or visit Nico and Emily Bonnaud’s Honest Chocolat in the Matakana Village where there is a range of beautiful and delicious products on offer – kids love watching the chocolate being tempered while munching on chocolate coated Hokey Pokey or Real Fruit Jellies.

3. Sheepworld

Sheepworld has reopened under the new management of Springboard.   A great place to visit with your family and friends and visit your favourite Sheepworld friends, enjoy the show (Thursday – Sunday) and grab a coffee or something to eat at the newly refurbished café.  Sheepworld is New Zealand’s premier farm experience and showcase for sheep and wool production, just 45 minutes north of Auckland. Get a fascinating insight into how we farm our sheep in NZ, and harvest and use their wool.  In our live show, watch close-up as the sheep are rounded up by the dogs, sorted and shorn. Learn amazing fun facts about sheep, farming and wool from our show-presenters.

There’s also a farmyard full of friendly animals, and an eco-trail through stunning native bush


4. Sculptureum

“While art certainly can inspire anyone at any age, our approach to the world of art at Sculptureum is decidedly designed to speak to the childish whimsy within us all.  Kids are often fascinated with what they experience at Sculptureum and parents are blown away by just how involved their children get.  From sculptures of melting ice-creams to petting our bunnies or feeding our birds, the bold colours, unique experiences and wonderland like feel of Sculptureum makes it the place of children’s dreams.  During the school holiday program, many kids and families enjoy our scavenger hunts throughout the property and are beyond enthralled when their sketches, drawings and recreations of some of our works end up being hung in our display for Little Artists in Residence.  There is nothing sweeter than to hear a child telling their mom, dad, grandma or grandpa, “Look! I’m a real artist!” while pointing enthusiastically at their own drawing.”

Top 10 things to do with kids - Animal Encounter @ Sculptureum

5. Brick Bay Sculpture Trail
Brick Bay is a place where young explorers can discover over 60 sculptures from NZ’s leading contemporary artists all set in incredible kauri forests, lakes and farmland abundant with native birds.  Kids love the complimentary Young Explorers maps, inspiring their learning, creativity and love of nature.  Come check out our latest Brick Bay Folly Winner for 2020/21 “Genealogy of the Pacific” 

There’s no need to book for the trail just turn up. Bookings are however  recommended for brunch or lunch at The Glass House Restaurant.  Open from 10am–4pm on weekdays and 10am–5pm on Saturdays.

Top 10 things to do with kids Brick Bay Sculpture Trail Matakana Coast

6. Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre
The Marine Discovery Centre is a great location if the weather gives you an indoors day and why this makes our Top 10 list.  Learn about the unique marine environment of this area with interactive displays and high definition footage. Get up close to New Zealand marine life without getting wet using our interactive Microeye microscope, be amazed by our sound corridor playing a variety of fish sounds and see a range of marine creatures in our large ‘touch gently tank’. Even if you have been to Goat Island before you are sure to learn something new about New Zealand’s oldest Marine Reserve.

Goat Island Marine Reserve - Top 10 things to do with kids

7. Village Picnic
Wherever you plan to go on the Matakana Coast, a picnic is essential! Book in advance and have the perfect artisan picnic ready and waiting, for you and the kids. Or, hand over the adventure planning and book a Family ‘Mystery Picnic‘.  A self drive 5 hour scavenger hunt of the Matakana Coast, which includes a picnic for the family to share, wine tasting for the adults and colouring in for the children (2 adults and 2 children) for $195 usually $245.  This is a great and fun way to discover the region.
Village Picnic Matakana Coast
8. Kayaking in the Matakana Coast 
The Top 10 list of things to do with kids would not be complete without including a water activity.  Kayaking is a great option to do with the kids and we are fortunate in the Matakana Coast to have a number of operators offering the experience both on the sea and also on the river.  As like all water adventures things like weather and tides can play apart in the planning of the day so please check in with the operator on the day of departure.
Enjoy New Zealand’s marine life up close in your very own 100% clear kayak at Motu Hāwere ā Maki (Goat Island) Marine Reserve in Leigh.  A Clearyak allows you to explore areas that you can not access by land or by motor boat while not impacting the delicate ecosystem in the reserve.  As you gently paddle the clear waters, you’ll see a wonderful variety of fish, eagle rays and stingrays swimming just below you.  Goat Island Marine Reserve is the only place in NZ to clearyak.  This unique experience is unlike any other kayaking adventure, allowing you to marvel at the marine life that swims below the surface without getting wet!
Top 10 things to do Clearyak

Puhoi River Kayaks has been operating since 1995 out of the historic Puhoi Village offering a safe leisurely un-guided paddle along the Puhoi River.  This stretch of water meanders 8km from Puhoi to the scenic Wenderholm Regional Park.  Puhoi River Kayaks supply the kayaks, buoyancy aids, paddling instruction, local river knowledge and a courtesy coach from Wenderholm back to Puhoi.  Don’t forget to pack a picnic to enjoy when you get to Wenderholm.

Puhoi River Kayak - Top 10 things to do with kids

Matakana River River Cruise and Kayak is a great way to enjoy and learn more about the famous Matakana Village and its surrounding area.  Departing from the wharf in Matakana you travel on the River Boat ‘Kotiti’ where your captain will provide you with a commentary about the fascinating history and natural features of the river as well as the rich bird and marine life you sill see.  Coming back you can board your own Kayak at lower Sandspit and travel back up the river.  If you have a member of your party who doesn’t want to Kayak they are welcome to travel back on the Riverboat.

9. Morris & James Pottery
Open everyday from 9am.  Families will love to wander through the extremely colourful pottery showroom to spot the native birds and flowers.  Follow them on Facebook to find out more about the kid friendly factory tours which give you a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse of the factory, held most days at 11am.   Luckily, there is also the Coffee Pot-tery Cafe on sight next to a great playground to explore.  Adults can enjoy a hot drink while the kids have a play.

Morris and James - Top 10 things to do with kids Matakana Coast

10. Walking and Hiking 

The Top 10 list of things to do with your kids would not be complete without a list of our favourite walking and hiking tracks in the region.  A great way to get the kids out from behind the screens.  There are walks along the beautiful coastline, numerous bush walks or perhaps a walk along a riverbank from the township of Warkworth or along the banks of the Puhoi River.  The range of walking trails cater for all ages and abilities – the challenge will be choosing which one to do.  Look out for the locals from the shorelines, bush or farmlands there will be plenty to observe and take pictures on your walk.  Remember to take water with you and some cash to buy produce from the numerous stalls dotted along the side of the road or as your passing through the many villages in the Matakana Coast.  We do ask, please take your rubbish with you, ‘Be a tidy Kiwi’ and help to keep our locals happy and safe.

Encounters' with locals - Top 10 things to do with kids

Depending on where you are heading stop in at Warkworth, Puhoi or Matakana Village for your favourite picnic food from the bakeries, cafes or supermarkets and then head out on your adventure or activity.  Or check out one of the many great Fish n’ Chip takeaways throughout the region – because who doesn’t love a freshly caught piece of fish.  You definitely won’t go hungry with so much to choose from.

Matakana Coast has plenty of accommodation options to suit your budget so you can stay a night or two and tick off another awesome experience on the Top 10 things to do with kids.