Category Archives: Things to do with children

Walking with our children can be a great family outing that is easy for everyone to do and enjoy together – we can learn about our environment and each other. When my children were young, I found it difficult finding things to do in Auckland with them, that would not involve a long drive and would also be of interest. So with that in mind, I have listed some ideas for short family walks here. For more ideas for things to do with children visit http://www.aucklandforkids.co.nz/

Tahuna Torea nature walk

Tahuna Torea is a beautiful nature reserve and wetland (salt marsh and freshwater habitat) in Glendowie, East Auckland. This nature walk follows the estuary edge and through native bush. I was hoping to head there yesterday but the rain was too heavy. Today the skies cleared to reveal a warm autumn day perfect for another walk in Auckland.

The starting point is at Roberta Reserve – it is a space that children can enjoy with a playground in the corner. Roberta Reserve is an off leash dog exercise area, but no dogs are allowed within Tahuna Torea itself because of the shore and wading birds that wander freely in this conservation area.

Tahuna Torea introduces you to 25 hectares of unique wildlife sited on a long sand bank extending out into the Tamaki Estuary. It is rich in Maori history as well as native birds and vegetation. Native trees are well sign-posted and there are fabulous views of the sandspit and estuary. There are three main walking trails around the reserve and you can walk them separately or together. It is a fun bush and shore family friendly walk.

Check out the tides before you head out – at low tide you can explore the Sandspit Beach Walks and at high tide you can enjoy the beauty of the water.

Description: : A mix of level path and a steps. Suitable in dry weather. Suitable for most ages and levels of fitness and mobility, designed with flat shoes or running shoes in mind. Not suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
To see: Wilderness Nature Reserve. Estuary views, sand spit, mangrove lagoon, freshwater pond, native birdlife, and native trees, Hauraki Gulf views. Bring binoculars to view birdlife.
Time: approx. 45 minutes. Allow extra time to explore.
Start: On corner of Robert Ave and Riddell Road. MAP

Suggested Café:
Ronnies, Corner of Riddell Road and Roberta Avenue (they do great iced coffees!)

Stay on track…get your detailed guide and map over at our Walks Store  (AE-010 Tahuna Torea) and our Book Store (one of 12 walks featured in our books “Urban Bush”,  “Coastal part one” and “Best of the East”).

Walks in Auckland with children

When children are age 5 or 6, they may be ready to get out walking to discover things to do in Auckland that are low-cost and fun.

What age do you start walking with children? You can get out and about with very young children in pushchairs and backpacks, but at some stage they will want to start stretching their legs and do their own walking. My general advice is from ages 5 or 6. But it does depend on your child, their attention span and how much energy they have.

When I lived in England, I went walking with my husband-to-be and his friend Tony and Tony’s daughter Joanna. Joanna must have been about 3 or 4 years old. It was May and the bluebells were out and it was a beautiful spring day. Joanna walked about 10kms that day and only asked to be carried for a short while. I was amazed at the stamina of the wee girl. For this child, she had plenty of energy and a long attention span (and possibly a working imagination too).

When my son was about 8 our family went out on walks and he used to be the one out front – it was hard to keep up especially as his little sister was only 4. We also had to be aware where he was, so that he did not get too far ahead and lost. The ways to overcome that problem is to a) have an adult accompanying the child, or following at a short distance b) provide the child with a whistle to blow if they get post c) if they are obedient, tell them to wait when they come to another path.

Think carefully when choosing the walk. Here is a list of questions to ask yourself before you make your plans:

Does it have something that will interest your child and keep them motivated?

Are they happy to wait until the end for a playground? Or would they like a playground at mid-point? (Here is a list of fun playgrounds ). Auckland Council looks after more than 900 playgrounds, many of which are new or recently upgraded – list of top 10 here. Join a Facebook group – Auckland Playground Guide.

Would they like to play in the sand at the beach so that they can have a rest?

Are they adventurous and would enjoy exploring tunnels with torches?

Would they like a ride on a mini-train at the end of the walk?

Would like to go with a friend or they are happy to keep company with your pet dog?

Do they have the stamina to walk up hills and steps?

Would a visit to a museum be an enticement to a walk?

When you start off with short walks try to pack a picnic or carry healthy snacks (such as nuts, dried fruit and low GI health bars) and water with you to keep the “hungries” away. Be sure to have hats and sun block handy on sunny days. Pack raincoats for those cloudy days,and wool hats for colder days. And of course, make sure the walking shoes are comfortable (and be prepared for blisters).

The book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen is fun to read and to play along with when out walking.
Here is the video:

Look for places near your home where you could start to encourage your children to love walking. In Auckland there are many walking options and as they get older they will enjoy longer walks and new places to visit. You could do weekend hikes up in the hills of the Waitakeres, or go further afield and camp out. Giving your children a taste of the outdoors at an early age gives them an appreciation of their own capabilities and a love of nature.

There are some great resources here: Little Ferns – Activity sheets for children in parks

Make the walk a fun adventure and your children (and you) will have many happy memories.