Summer is here, and for many of us, that means some time off work to sit back and unwind. However, with the recent cost of living increases and the stress and costs of Christmas, not everyone can afford to jet off to a Pacific Island for a week or two. But everyone deserves to have a break and to enjoy themselves, parents included. So, what to do when you hear the age-old whine of “I’m bored. What can we do?”

To make life over the summer holidays easier, it’s always a good idea to have a list of family-friendly activities that won’t break the bank prepared.

We’ve put together great holiday ideas for when you’re budget-conscious but desperate to unwind while keeping the kids entertained. Best of all, these cheaper activities can very often be more fun and interactive than an expensive holiday.

10 tips to prepare for a classic Kiwi summer holiday

On this list, you’ll find something the whole family will enjoy without emptying the bank account

1. Take a hike

In New Zealand, hiking is free. It gets you out and about, experiencing some amazing scenery. Whether you’re living in a coastal paradise or an urban jungle, the nearest native forest is never far away. So, pick a bushwalk near you and take the family to explore. If you’re based in Auckland, you’re spoilt for choice. The region is packed with coastal walkways, dense bush, and waterfalls. Check out this list of some of the best hikes in Tamaki Makaurau. Dress in comfortable shoes, a hat and sun-sensible clothing. Check the weather forecast, pack a picnic and lots of water, slather on sunscreen, and off you go.

2. Life’s a beach

Most NZers have reasonably easy access to beautiful beaches. A day at the beach is easy, fun and cheap. Grab your togs, towels and hats, slap on some sunscreen, put together some picnic treats, pack loads of water and take your pick of the awesome beaches surrounding us. Throw in a bat and ball for beach cricket, spades and buckets for building sandcastles or a game of kubb. Explore the rockpools, splash in the waves, and have a full day of fun at the beach. Don’t forget to treat everybody to ice cream before heading home.

3. Go camping

To get out of the house for a few days, camping is a great option. It’s the cheapest getaway out there. However, over the school holidays, it gets pretty busy in our many campsites, so if you want to go on a camping trip, you do need to have a plan in place. A Top 10 Holiday Park can be a costlier option, or you can stay in DOC campsites if you can get your hands on a tent and some gear. According to their summer booking statistics though, those who procrastinate with planning may end up camping at home. Over summer, it’s worth booking your camping spot in advance.

4. Camp out at home under the stars … or in the lounge

If can’t get away to a campground, then pop up the tent and camp out in the garden. Backyard camping gives you the best of both worlds: the great outdoors and it’s close to a toilet and a well-stocked kitchen. If that is a bit adventurous for the little ones or you haven’t got a tent, then just build a hut in the lounge, and throw in the sleeping bags and pillows. You can use torches for shadow play against the walls and snuggle down and take turns making up stories.

5. Go fruit picking

The sweetest strawberries are the ones picked straight from the plant, warm from the sun and juicy. Picking your own berries is a great summer activity and a wonderful excuse to lick your way through some fresh real fruit ice cream when you’ve finished. Check out what fruit is available in your local area and when. For example, around Auckland from around December to early February, you could go strawberry picking – can also find blackberries and raspberries. You usually pay per kilogram, although they can’t weigh the berries you cram in your mouth as you go. Get home and make jam, muffins, Eton mess and wonderful crumbles as a team.

6. On your bike

If you have a bike, try cycling somewhere with the family. There are many family-friendly cycleways around New Zealand and in our cities. If you don’t all have bicycles, then you can rent them or you can even borrow them from bike libraries.

7. Fly a kite

Pick a clear area then run and fly free. Flying a kite teaches patience and coordination and they are pretty to watch. Make your own kites and then get and have fun on a lovely summer day.

8. Visit a museum or art gallery

Most museums offer free entry to residents and family events are regularly held on weekends and during the school holidays. Whether it’s local history, natural history or general history, they’re great places to while away a few hours. Similar to museums, art galleries also often offer free entry and host a wide variety of exhibitions. Auckland has a wide range of museums and art galleries to take the kids for a fun family day out.

9. Have a film marathon

Most of us have got a DVD collection tucked away somewhere and even if you don’t, then borrow DVDs from your local library. Hold a special film screening for family and friends and watch every single Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings or any other favourite films in one sitting.

Kids can create their own movie posters and even sell tickets for entry. Bake movie snacks, including popcorn and get watching.

10. Play mini golf

Most cities in New Zealand have miniature golf courses. They’re usually fairly cheap, and the whole family can play. You can often get discount vouchers on deals websites, such as Bookme and GrabOne. Both sites offer deals on family experiences.

Get prepared for a classic Kiwi summer holiday

Keeping kids entertained on a budget over the summer takes a bit of creativity. Don’t worry though, our 10 tips to prepare for a classic Kiwi summer holiday will stave off boredom and keep everybody happy and these activities don’t cost the Earth.