• Jen Bell

All the places you can take your kids in level 2

Updated: May 13

Parents rejoice! The advent of level 2 on Thursday 14 May means entertaining your little ones is about to get much easier.



As much as we all love an imaginary tea party - or creating dramatic landscapes out of towels and an old bath mat (my toddler's favourite), by the twenty-eighth day, our smiles were starting to become a tad frozen and we were sipping our pretend flat white a smidge less enthusiastically. Ok. Let's be honest, that had actually kicked in by day five.


Have you read The Wall by John Lanchester? His description of life on the Wall is eerily similar to how it feels to keep a small human entertained with limited resources.


"Time has never passed as slowly as it did that day. Time on the Wall is treacle. In the first weeks, you look at the time every few minutes. It's like there's a special slow time on the Wall; you can't believe it; you check and check it again and that only makes it worse."

I jest, of course. Kind of. I love spending time with my two-year-old son. Pretending to chop down trees in the garden with a scrap of plastic that he picked up and has decided is a tiny chainsaw. Mining for gold in his sandpit. Learning the names of birds and butterflies. Seeing the joy on his face as he discovers that grass is green, and the sky is blue.


But variety is the spice of life and like many parents out there, the first thing my eyes searched for when the level 2 details were published was whether the playgrounds would be open. YES. YES. YOU BEAUTY, JACINDA. I swear I heard a collective cheer rise up from mums and dads across New Zealand.


So, without further ado, here is a list of the things you’ll be able to do with your kids during level 2, which begins on Thursday 14 May.


We will add to this story as further announcements are made from various councils and Kiwi businesses so keep checking back.


THE PLAYGROUND



Your local playground will be open again once they have been cleaned and disinfected by council staff. We have never been so excited to see swings and a slide! We’d love to see some shots of your kids having fun at the playground again after so many weeks off. Email them to editor@oobymag.co.nz and we might even be able to scrabble together some family friendly spot prizes.


THE ZOO



It looks like most of the country’s zoos will be throwing open their gates in level 2, which is awesome news for the little wildlife lovers out there. Though it might be a slightly different experience to pre-coronavirus.

Auckland Zoo will be reopening on Wednesday 27 May. They will be updating their website with everything you need to know about visiting your favourite animals, so keep your eyes peeled.

Hamilton Zoo will be open during level 2 with visitor numbers restricted to 500 at any one time and a one in/one out system in place.


SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium will reopen on Thursday 14 May with stringent health and safety measures in place. Visitors must pre-book their tickets online for entry and session times will be implemented.

Wellington Zoo will be open from Monday 18 May with free entry until the end of June. What a beautiful gesture! All visitors will be required to book a timed ticket before arriving at the zoo, to provide a contactless experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was put in place by the other zoos so it will pay to be organised – but soooo worth it. We. Can’t. Wait.


THEME PARKS



Hurrah – that saviour of parents and bored kids everywhere. Theme parks are allowed to fire up their rides again as long as they stick to the strict measures laid out by the government.

Kiwi icon, Rainbows End, will reopen in level 2 with a couple of changes, including restricted numbers in the park and hand sanitiser at the entrance to every ride.

A number of adventure parks will also be open, including Christchurch Adventure Park.

MUSEUMS



Our beloved rainy-day option! Museums can reopen in level 2. Auckland’s New Zealand Maritime Museum will be open in late May, while Wellington’s Te Papa plans to follow suit two weeks after level 2 begins (28 May).


MOTAT is also reopening on Tuesday 26 May with half price general admission during Level 2. We haven’t heard from the Auckland Memorial Museum but will update this page when we do.

THE CINEMA



This will probably vary from cinema to cinema but some of them definitely have plans to reopen during level 2. Smaller independent cinemas will likely open first. This includes Matakana Cinemas north of Auckland who have confirmed that they will open after some tweaks to operations – but it won’t be bang smack on Thursday 14 May. Look out for announcements in the coming days.


According to New Zealand Motion Picture Exhibitors' Association spokesperson Mark Christensen, larger cinemas could take longer as so many of the new releases have been pushed back until late July. They has to be something for you to watch, after all.

PARKS & GARDENS



Parks and botanic gardens have been open since level 3 – but their car parks, visitor's centres and cafes have all been shut.

Gardens around the country, including the Hamilton, Auckland and Christchurch Botanic Gardens will be fully open for business in level 2. A great opportunity to take the family out and stretch your legs somewhere different. And now you can also get a coffee while you wander!

CATCH UP WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY



The bubble has been popped. You can swap lockdown stories with your mum and dad mates in person now, and your kids can see their friends again. It’s obviously important to keep things sensible. Now is not the time for that epic birthday party with a hundred of your nearest and dearest. Keep safe and make sure you and your family wash/sanitise regularly.

SCHOOL



Enough said….


Things you still can't do


TAKE YOUR KID TO THE POOL

Unfortunately, it is too difficult to enforce social distancing – which I get. Explaining the one metre rule to a bunch of toddlers shrieking and splashing about would be akin to herding cats. You can only head to the pool if you’re going to use the swimming lanes. Toddler pools and the like are off limits for a while longer.

BROWSE THE LIBRARY

This is likely to depend on your local council, but it seems that most regions will be adopting a staged approach to reopening libraries.

In Hamilton, library users will be able to return items via the after-hours slots and collect new items using a new contactless Click and Collect service. However, entering the libraries and browsing shelves is still not possible so not much use for the kids (aside from the older ones who might still like to reserve some books using the Click and Collect method).

Auckland has yet to announce its plans. Christchurch will reopen Tūranga first, followed by larger libraries in the different regions of the city and then eventually its smaller libraries.