Thank you to our guest author: Michelle Morpeth from Outdoorsy NZ
Ever heard of a kiwi tucking into its burrow for a long winter snooze, avoiding winter rain and snow, only to re-emerge, sleepy eyed and blinking in the Spring to feel the weak sun on its feathers? Um, no. Kiwis are intrepid birds, out there digging for worms, rain or shine, all year round. No reason why our kids can’t be the same. (Digging for worms can actually be quite fun…) Don’t let your kids use winter weather as an excuse to hibernate with the i-Pad, only to re-emerge sleepy eyed and blinking in the Spring! The Swedish have a very sensible saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Too right. Get your children warm and weatherproof and head out to have some fun!
A tip: if children feel like they are on an adventure or a ‘mission,’ they will be much more enthusiastic about getting outside in less than perfect conditions. So here’s your permission to become a kid again and get inventive with games and activities together!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Explorers – Did you know that New Zealand has a LOT of cave systems, and many of these are open to the public? Take your kids on an underworld adventure. From large, tourism-oriented experiences like the Waitomo Caves, through to small caverns found while rock hopping at low tide, and even lava caves formed from volcanic eruptions, there are lots of options out there to get exploring. Winter is a great time to do it. Caves.org.nz has a list of local NZ caving clubs which will be able to point you in the right direction in your area.
2. Mariners – Use waxed baking paper to build a fleet of boats. (Google ‘origami boats’ if you need some folding inspiration). Next time there is heavy rain, have races down a little waterway that springs up, perhaps down the side of your driveway or in the old creek bed at your local park. Or float them on a big puddle and stage a ‘war’ with small pebbles as cannonfire. Whose boats will stay afloat?
3. Mountaineers – do your children know who the man is on NZ’s $5 note, and why he’s there? Talk to your children about our kiwi hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Tenzing Norgay, discussing the remarkable journey they took to be the first people to scale Mt Everest. (It’s quite possible they’ve learnt about it at school and know more about it than you do, LOL). Ask them to use their senses and think about what it would look like, feel like, sound like high up there on the side of a mountain above the rest of the world.
Then go on a mission to scale your own ‘Everest’! Find a local hill you can ascend together and pretend you are mountaineers. It doesn’t have to be snowy, you can make believe!
Be sure you take your imaginary ice axes, crampons, oxygen tanks, rope, and of course a thermos of Milo to celebrate the view from the top.
4. Engineers – building dams isn’t solely a summer activity! There’s usually a lot more water around in winter, so see if you can find a small section of a creek to dam up, or part of a beach estuary. Get the warm socks and gumboots out, have a pair of gloves at the ready to warm up small hands, and get building. Then have fun knocking it all down at the end to let the water resume its usual course.
5. Sculpturists – hold a sculpture competition at your local beach, sandy riverbed, or even using mud in your backyard. You could have a theme (ocean creatures? Castles? Volcanoes?) or just let the children come up with their own original idea. Encourage them to decorate their creations with natural materials lying around – sticks, shells, mangrove pods etc. Give them a time limit and award appropriate prizes.
6. Fossil hunters – buy a few cheap little mallets from a hardware store like Bunnings or Mitre 10 and take the kids on a hunt for dinosaur bones, visiting a local river bed, estuary, cliff, or hillside. Younger children will be happy to pretend that various rocks and sticks they chip away at are actually prehistoric; older children might enjoy finding out a bit about your local geology. There is a ton of information online about the various rocks and rock forms around New Zealand – do a quick google search about your area before you go and maybe put together a little work sheet for older children to fill in and draw on while you’re out. You will learn something too!
7. Sport stars – not everything has to be an elaborate adventure. Get a cricket or softball bat, a tennis ball, some old bits of carpet or car mats to use as bases, head to your local park with as many local kids as you can muster, and have a ball (sorry couldn’t resist) playing Rounders or non-stop cricket. Everyone is warm, happy, and you have earned Brownie points with the other parents who will hopefully relieve you of your children at some point in the future too, ha ha. And not an iPad in sight.
8. Nature lovers – rug up warm and take a hike on either a favourite local track, or a new trail you’ve yet to discover. Take notebooks and make it the children’s mission to create a list of every animal, insect, or bird they see along the way. They’ll need to use their powers of observation and description, because they may not know the names of all those things. Who will have the longest list? Can you find out the names of some of the unknown things when you get home?
About the Author: Michelle Morpeth is the Outdoorsy Mama behind Outdoorsy.co.nz
"I’ve created an online community dedicated to fun, inspiring ways to kick the cabin fever and get active outside! Discover insider tips, off the beaten track experiences, and everyday adventure ideas, with a bit of outdoor dreaming packed in the bag, too. Why waste another Saturday wondering what to do?"
Find more inspiration and ask questions at www.facebook.com/groups/TheOutdoorsyMama