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Sneaky school holiday learning

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You’ve got a lot to learn if you think learning stops when you’re not at school. The destinations on this list are full of information and ideas that will worm their way into your brain. Even worse, these activities will teach you about interesting things without you even realising it’s happening!

You’ll know more, understand more and learn some new skills. And, what’s more, you’ll like it.

Check out some of the ideas and events below, these Easter school holidays.

Sea Monsters (until 1 May)

Millions of years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without encountering a terrifying monster. Luckily, they’re a bit rarer these days, but you can still see some aquatic monsters on display at Otago Museum. Find out what they looked like, where and when they lived, and who what they ate, so you know what to look out for next time you go to the beach ... fossils-wise, that is.

The Secret Path (16-30 April)

Notice things about George Street that you’ve never noticed before and get a new perspective on art in this puzzle-based scavenger hunt. The Secret Path takes you out and about on George Street and in and out of shops, having a close look at artworks, searching for hidden clues, and solving puzzles to uncover the password for access to the secret Klubhaus. At the Klubhaus you can collect your reward and spend some time creating your own artworks to go on display in the Nifty Future Trendsetters exhibition.

Michel Beevors 'Anatomy Lessons' at Animal Attic (until 24 July)

What do you get when you cross some knitting needles with a sculptural comment on conservation and the plight of animals? You get along to the Otago Museum, that’s what. Anatomy Lessons is not your usual museum exhibition. It consists of life-sized knitted skeletons of all sorts of animals, including a giraffe, a gorilla, a horse and some frogs. Based in Animal Attic, this exhibition will amaze and amuse you, teach you a thing or two about animal anatomy, and get you thinking about how humans treat animals.

Larnach Castle

It’s a well-known fact that seeing it for yourself is the best approach when it comes to learning about history. Reading or being told about history works okay, tasting is risky, and we can all agree that most history is best left unsmelled. It’s a good thing, then, that Dunedin has an impressive piece of history that still smells pretty good and which kids can see for free. Larnach Castle is a real and explorable part of Dunedin’s past. From the top of the tower to the edge of the grounds, you can see for yourself what life was like for the Larnach family. It’s not technically time travel, but it’s the next best thing and the bonus is, kids go free during the school holidays.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

It’s impossible to spend a day at Orokonui Ecosanctuary and not learn anything about wildlife. You might think you’re just there for a good time and a wander, but everywhere you go, you’ll see signs for the birds – even the back of your map has a photo guide. If you make up your mind not to notice birds, you’ll still learn a lot about plants. There are natives growing all over the ecosanctuary and labelled so you can’t help but learn what they are. You just have to face facts: a trip to the ecosanctuary is a wildlife education, but the most important thing you’ll learn is how lucky you are to have it here in Dunedin.

New Zealand Festival of Nature (22-28 April)

The April school holidays are primed for wild discoveries as the annual New Zealand Festival of Nature pops up all over Dunedin, with a family-friendly programme jam-packed with outings, events and hands-on activities. The ‘down to the sea’ theme of this year’s festival will keep the kids entertained for hours and they just might learn a thing or two on the side. See our top fest picks for kids here.