Let’s face it: Auckland in Winter can be quite nasty sometimes. Instead of a snowy winter wonderland, we get bucketloads of rain. And for a while, this can be lovely. We finally get to chill on the couch under a blanket and catch up on some binge-worthy Netflix series and movies.
But after some time as a couch potato, my back starts to hurt and I get cabin fever. Time to get moving! But what to do on a rainy day where you want to be outside as little as possible? Fear not, here are some exciting Auckland indoor activities, Weekend Kiwis style:
What to do on a rainy day: Exciting Indoor activities in Auckland
Aim for a Hole In One
I know mini golf mostly as an outdoor activity, but here in Auckland, there are heaps of indoor mini golf courses to be discovered! One of the first ones (to my knowledge) was Gloputt in Takapuna. This is not just any indoor mini golf, it’s glow in the dark mini golf!
One of the newest additions to indoor mini golf Auckland is Putters Paradice in Botany. Paradice has really become a bit of a one-stop shop for things to do in Auckland on a rainy day. They’ve got an ice rink, laser tag and now mini golf, too. And they’re not too far from where we live, which is awesome!
Hit the slopes and learn to ski
Up in the northern part of the North Shore, in Silverdale, you get to hit the slopes on real snow, no matter the weather (even in Summer, if you must). Snowplanet has two platter lifts on either side of the hall and a magic carpet for the little ones. As an experienced skier, this might not be for you unless you want to learn some new tricks or jumps. But it’s a great place to learn your first swings on skis or the snowboard before daring to take on the steeper slopes on Ruapehu or the South Island.
Tip: if you want the slopes pretty much for yourself, go in the evening. Snowplanet’s open till 10 pm during the week and even midnight on the weekend, so you’ll have more than enough time. They also have a licensed bar for your authentic apres ski experience.
Have a drink and a blast in a themed bar
Nowadays, going to a bar or pub just for drinks (and food) isn’t enough anymore. We want to be entertained while sipping our beers and cocktails. Luckily, more and more themed bars pop up in Auckland where we get to unleash our inner child.
The first one was Dr Rudi’s at Viaduct Harbour. It’s your regular brew bar on the second floor, with a terrace and awesome view over the harbour. But in the back of the bar, two bowling lanes await your game. And they’re even free to play!
Downstairs in the same building, Holey Moley Golf Club brings two of your favourite leisure time activities together: drinking and playing mini golf. If you’re really keen, you can spend the whole rainy day in there and play, as there are up to 27 holes to play. Every hole is themed and has a cheeky golf name, like the Iron Throne (which is literally a throne that looks like the one in Game of Thrones but made of golf irons).
A round of mini golf at Holey Moley is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Auckland, rain or shine.
The newest addition to the themed bars is Save Ferris Arcade Bar. It transports you right back into the 80s, with 10 pinball machines and retro arcade games. They also serve hip craft beer. I think this bar can easily become my new favourite indoor activity in Auckland as I loved crashing high scores on the pinballs as a child. Should I ever go missing, you know where to look.
Eat the most delicious ice cream in Auckland
...and the most beautiful, too. Even though it might be cold and rainy, there is always room for Giapo ice cream. It’s not really a secret anymore that Giapo on Gore Street serves awesome gelatos, especially after Cher repeatedly came back for more during the time of her concerts in Auckland.
If you’re not sure which flavour you like the lovely staff gives you tasters to help decide. No matter which one you order, you not only get a scoop of ice cream but a work of art. Just don’t go overboard and order all the flavours at once as the ice creams are very filling. Best you come back and try a new flavour every time.
Get cultured and learn about New Zealand’s history
Learning about New Zealand’s history, its connection with the ocean and the arts won’t only broaden your horizon but also be very gentle on your budget. For Aucklanders, both the War Memorial and the Maritime Museum are free of charge if you bring a proof of address with you. The Auckland Art Gallery is free to visit for everyone. So there’s no excuse not to learn something new and exciting on a rainy day in Auckland.
Not free, but still reasonably priced is the Museum Of Transport And Technology (better known as MOTAT). It’s fun and interactive and with some luck (or planning) you visit during an event like Night Lights or the Prohibition Party.
Learn to dance
Ever wanted to learn to dance but feared you’d trip over your own feet? Or you’d love to dance but don’t have a dance partner? Then come and join Chris and me and many others at Ceroc dancing, a sort of modern Jive. Lessons usually take place during the week in locations all over Auckland (you can find us in Pakuranga on Mondays) but you also get to dance the night away on one of their dancing parties on the weekend.
The great thing is, you neither need to bring a dancing partner nor do you have to be a Fred Astaire. The steps are an easy forth and back and instructions are broken down for better understanding. The leads (usually the guys) keep standing where they are while the follows (usually the ladies, but you get to be what you prefer) move down one after every instruction. That way everyone gets to dance with everyone.
Wanna try learning Ceroc? Message me and I’ll make sure you get the first lesson free!
Play the great escape game
Escape Rooms are probably one of the most popular things to do in Auckland on a rainy day. The usual scenario is you’re getting locked into a room where you need to find clues and keys to get out again. The clock is normally set on an hour. If you don’t manage to solve the puzzles by then, you are released.
There are heaps of Auckland Escape Rooms. Best you google which one is closest to your are, gather your friends and off you go.
Reach new heights at climbing
Climbing halls are a great way of combining fun with exercise. If you want to make a challenge out of it, take your friends and kids to Clip and Climb. This is climbing with a twist and for the ones who don’t take things too seriously. The climbing walls are colorful, some are themed (eg Tetris) and all of them are different. At the Leap of Faith, you have to gather all your courage to jump from the top of a pole onto a trapeze. Other challenges include speed climbing and the vertical drop slide. Definitely one of the coolest Auckland indoor activities for kids and grown-ups.
Another, more serious but not less fun climbing hall is Extreme Edge in Panmure. It’s the biggest indoor climbing hall in New Zealand and offers over 200 routes to climb, from beginners to professional. And for training your skills or climbing without a harness, there’s a bouldering area.
Floor the pedal of your Go Kart
The only two-floor Go Kart track in New Zealand can be found in East Tamaki. And it’s another indoor activity, which makes it a great option for grown-up kids who wonder what to do in Auckland on a rainy day. Floor the pedal of your 200cc Honda kart and speed your way to victory!
Forget regular go karting with these New Zealand built karts. Blastacars in West Auckland (and Hamilton) take it to the next level with purpose-built drift cars. They look like your regular go-kart but give you the ultimate drifting experience as you race around those hairpin curves.
Before and after karting, don’t miss out on the arcade games, free foosball and ping pong!
Obviously, both karting places have a no drink-drive policy, so make sure to only drink your beersies after the race.
Ready, aim, fire (paintballs)
It’s a bit of a drive down to Karaka to get to the Asylum Paintball, but I promise it’s well worth it. Not only is it a spooky location but it’s also the only indoor paintball you can find. There are two indoor rooms to choose from. One comes with freaky LED lights and custom built sound system while the other reminds of those old school computer games.
If the weather is good, there are also five outdoor arenas on offer
Feel sophisticated at High Tea
High Tea has become so popular that it’s hard to find a cafe that doesn’t offer one. Basically, you spend your (usually) Sunday afternoon drinking tea and bubbly while munching away on delicious nibbles and chatting. Rainy weekend done right, don’t you agree?
Many of the fancy hotels around Auckland offer great High Tea, like the Hilton or Cordis but also charming little cafes and homesteads like Hawthorn Dene in Howick, where afternoon teas feel especially authentic.
Go to the movies
One of the best places to go on a rainy day. You enter a world of fantasy and leave the grey day behind for a couple of hours. If you love blockbusters, you probably love the huge cineplexes. For a more boutique movie experience, though, you might want to visit Monterey Cinema in Howick, Berkeley in Mission Bay, the Vic in Devonport or Bridgeway Cinema on the North Shore. The Academy below the Auckland Library shows arthouse movies.
Go skate on (thin?) ice
Even though Auckland in Winter isn’t cold enough to freeze any lakes or even ponds, there’s plenty of options if you feel like ice skating. Open all year round are the indoor ice rinks at Paradice in Botany and Avondale. In addition to these, a mobile ice rink opens every July at Aotea Square in the heart of the city.
Find your nearest bowling alley
Bowling has been a popular passtime ever since the 1950s and continues to be. No matter if you like to show off your bowling moves or simply try to let go of the ball so no one gets hurt, bowling is definitely one of the fun things to do in Auckland rain or shine. What’s more, bowling lanes in New Zealand often come with a Timezone Arcade in the same building, which means you get double the fun! Our favourite bowling lane is just nearby, Xtreme Botany gives us a bowling AND arcade fix.
Play a round of Pool on Auckland’s party street
Did you know there’s a place on Ponsonby Road that doesn’t focus solely on eating and drinking? Ponsonby Pool Hall has been around long before the street became infamous for Auckland’s nightlife and is an authentic no-BS place to spend a rainy day (or night) playing pool or watch other people play while sipping on your beer.
Play with cats while drinking coffee
Cat cafes originally come from Japan, where city people neither have the time or space for a pet. So someone clever came up with the idea of opening a cafe where you get to play with cats, dogs or other animals while drinking your cuppa. Same concept, different country, BaristaCats is your place to go if you want to play with some cute rescue cats. If they’re in the mood to play, that is. None of them is ever forced to interact with the guests, so you better come up with something to become interesting for the feline :-)
Gaze at the stars
When thinking about what to do on a rainy day, looking at the starry night sky probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But you can very well see the night sky no matter the weather. Just visit the Stardome Observatory. They offer regular shows where you get to learn about the stars of the Southern Hemisphere or the moon. Occasionally, on Tuesday evenings, they have an adult-only music and laser show that includes a glass of wine and nibbles. Perfect for date nights!
And last but not least: Work on your caravan or another DIY project
To be honest, that’s how we currently spend most of our rainy (and sunny) days on the weekends, working on our lovely retro caravan renovation project. But any sort of DIY project makes a rainy day well spent, be it woodworking, knitting or you name it. You learn a lot in the process and at the end of the day (or the project) you have a new thing or skill you can be proud of. We for one can’t wait to show off our finished caravan!
How about you? What do you enjoy doing on a rainy day? Are you more one for the couch or still very much up for going out and about? Let me know in the comments below!