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Classic Kiwi Beach Games & Activities

Check out some of our favourite ways to keep the whole whanau entertained with classic kiwi beach games and activities this summer.

Classic Kiwi beach games & activities that never get old

A summer’s day out at the beach is a great time for the whole whanau to enjoy. It’s the time of year to kick back and enjoy the simple things in life, like a refreshing swim in the ocean, or working on the tan with your favourite book enjoying a delicious lunch from your local Four Square.

A day out at the beach is also a great opportunity for some long overdue quality time with the family. So, here’s some of our favourite ways to get the whole whanau involved in fun beach games and activities.

First thing first though, don’t forget to slip-slop-slap on the sunscreen this summer wherever you may be, even on overcast days.   

Building a sand castle

Sandcastle on the beach

Gather your pails and shovels and start constructing your masterpieces! The kids will have a great time piecing together sand castles using compacted sand and shells, twigs or neptune’s necklace they might find scattered around the shore.

Remember, you can easily make a great castle turret using an upside down pail.

Once you’re done, get your kids to name the castle. If they’re keen to keep building, why not landscape a small kingdom or dig a moat? Endless hours of fun, and a great sense of accomplishment.

Digging a private pool

Kids digging a pool on the beach

Kids love digging, plain and simple. It’s a great way to keep them entertained, so hand them a shovel and let them at it! 

If they’re close enough to the water, they can dig a nice sized pool and then let the tide fill it up when the shallows rush in.

If you happen to be holidaying in the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula, a day trip to Hot Water Beach is a must. Dig for the underground hot springs and score yourself a nice little private spa.

No matter where you are, remember to be mindful of the tide and stay with your kids when digging around the shore.

Tug of war

Dog playing tug of war

It’s often the simple things in life that are most fun. All you need is a good bit of rope to play this classic beach game. Split up into teams, ideally with one adult on each team to keep it fair! 

Then, you’ll each take one end of the rope and pull! Whoever can make the other team let go (or fall over) wins. Because you’re on sand, falling over is no big deal, just be sure there’s nothing that the little ones could hurt themselves on.

Exploring rock pools

Child exploring rock pools

The rocks are one of the best places on the beach for kids to explore! There’s all sorts of ocean life, shells, molluscs, algae, crustacea and more waiting to be discovered. Not only is it loads of fun, it can be an educational experience.

Be sure to wear enclosed shoes on the rocks, ideally with good grip, as the rocks can be slippery and host to sharp shells like oysters.

Musical towels

Colourful towels on the beach

You’re familiar with musical chairs, now let’s make it a beach game. All you need is your beach towels and a portable bluetooth speaker. 

As a family, move or dance around the towels while your music is playing. Then get one person who isn’t playing to stop the music at random points. When the music stops, everyone has to rush to a towel. 

After each round, remove one towel. Then, whoever can’t get to a towel in time is eliminated!


Dog with frisbee on beachFrisbee is a classic beach game to keep your kids (and any four-legged companions) entertained. You can simply throw the frisbee back and forth, catching and retrieving as necessary, or brush up on the rules for ultimate frisbee.

For ultimate frisbee, divide into two teams and mark out two end zones in the sand. The goal is to get the frisbee into the enemy team’s end zone. However, there’s no running with the frisbee. If you’re holding it, you have the stand still and throw it. Meanwhile, opponents and allies can both try to intercept.

Play first-to-three, or just keep going until it’s home time.

Beach cricket

Beach cricket

Beach cricket is really just regular cricket, with one key difference: you’ll use a tennis ball. Tennis balls are light and hollow, so if it gets hit into the water it’s easy to retrieve.

Bring along your tennis ball, a cricket bat and some wickets and you’re good to go. Of course, if you leave the wickets at home, you can easily use pieces of driftwood. This is a really familiar beach game, so it’s easy to get the kids on board.


People playing petanque

Have an old petanque set floating around? If you do, why not bring it to the beach?

Each petanque set should come with a small ball called a jack. Toss the jack out into the sand, then have everyone take turns throwing their own larger petanque ball. The goal is to land your ball as close to the jack as possible. The closest, wins!

Beach volleyball

People playing beach volleyball at sunset

Volleyball is already a popular beach game. Nets tend to be pretty light-weight and easy to transport, but some beaches may even have nets set up already. And if you don’t have a net, just pretend! Draw a line in the sand and use that as your border between each side.

The goal of beach volleyball is to score by having the ball hit the sand on the opposing team’s side. But remember, your team can only touch the ball three times to return it.

You can use any part of your body to return the ball, including kicking it — but you can’t throw, catch or hold it, it must be hit while in motion. 

Scavenger hunt

Close up of treasure map

Who doesn’t love a classic treasure hunt? Before heading to the beach, prepare a scavenger hunt for the kids. This will keep them busy and encourage them to explore, problem solve and be curious. 

Your scavenger hunt list should include items you’ll naturally find on the beach, like:

  • A scallop shell
  • Neptune’s necklace
  • Driftwood
  • A smooth stone
  • Beach glass
  • A feather

You can hunt competitively, or work together as a family. 

Digging for tuatua and pipis

Shellfish on sandy beach

Have you ever gone clamming at your local beach? Certain beaches like Mt Maunganui Main Beach and Papamoa are rife with tasty little morsels like tuatua and pipi.

During low tide, trek out until you’re about knee-high in the water (your little ones may not want to come this deep, but let them have a go in the shallower parts).

Then, dig both feet into the sand and “wiggle” them until you feel shells. Once you’ve found them, pull them out with your hands and toss them a bucket with some fresh ocean water to soak out all that sand.

Be mindful when taking kaimoana (seafood) from our beaches. Councils typically have limits on the amount of tuatua and pipi you’re allowed to take, so check the local laws before you wiggle.

Boogie boarding

Overhead photo of people boogie boarding

Finally, before the little ones are quite ready to surf, they’ll love hitting the water on a boogie board. 

Find a stretch of beach within the lifeguard’s flags where the waves are relatively calm. Then, head out to the water with your boogie boards strapped to your wrists.

Wade into the water until you’re knee-deep, then lie down with your belly on the board, your tips touching the tail and your hands holding the top corners.

When you’re ready to ride a wave, turn the nose of the board to the shore. Start paddling until you catch the wave and let it carry you back to the shore.

Be sure you’re always staying within the lifeguard’s flags. The ocean can cause you drift outside of them, so check in every now and then and swim back if you need to.

Need to refuel?

After a long day at the beach, there’s no better way to relax in the evening than with a beautiful meal from your local Four Square

Check out our virtual mailer to see the latest offers on fresh food, perfect for a bit of post-beach kai.