Birthday party venues in Wellington

Over the last eighteen months or so I've found the need to locate great family friendly places here in Wellington for both recreation and as birthday party venues.  It is quite hard to find a collated list of birthday party venues for Wellington, so I'll just start one here.  Please leave a comment if you have some additions.

Birthday party venues

  • Your local Plunket rooms.  These are normally managed by a Plunket Committee, rather than the Plunket Nurse, and it can be a bit tricky to locate a member of the relevant committee.  They are usually child friendly/ safe and have kitchen/ toilet and play facilities.  I know quite a few people who have used the Kilbirnie rooms.  The Kilbirnie Plunket rooms cost me $40 for the day, has a heat pump, kitchen, toilet and you can open the ranch slider and play in the fenced toddler park adjacent.
  • Carlucciland: Just got back from a party held at Carlucciland.  It is in Happy Valley, near the rubbish dump and it makes advantage of many recycled items to build an amazing mini-golf course and walking track.  There are chickens pecking about and all kinds of things to look at. The children (and adults) were very impressed.  There is a sheltered, but not fully enclosed area to eat in adjacent to the office.  It might be a tricky venue in bad weather.  It is perfect for children aged 4+ - the children can wander off and have a play, but younger children will have to be closely watched as there are some hazards - rocks and the fountain.
  • Try asking your creche or local kindy - they often use the money from rental for extras for the kids.
  • Junglerama: Kind of pricey per person, and the menu is mainly junk food.  However, it is a nice enclosed inside space with separate areas for younger and older children.
  • Community Halls.   My daughter and some of her best friends had their birthday parties in the hall at Newtown Community Centre.  Very cheap, and a good sized space.  Big kitchen available to prepare food.  Parking a little tricky, but on a bus route.  A friend recently rented Newtown Hall (opposite Mediterranean Food Warehouse) which was a good size as well.  
  • Te Papa:  Te Papa will run a storytime session then take the children down to a dedicated table for a meal in the cafeteria.  A reasonably OK menu on offer, both for the kids and adults.  The storytime area is simply very cool and would be exciting with a large group of friends.  There is of course, nothing stopping you from just turning up with a picnic basket and finding a quiet spot to eat (perhaps outside).
  • Museum of City and the Sea: Went to an awesome four year old birthday party here.  Face painting, dedicated party room, crafts and a personalised tour of the museum.  Very lovely.
  • Capital E: Runs different themes depending on age and gender of children.  Dedicated rooms.
  • Tiny Town/ Kilbirnie Rec Centre.  You can book out the little Tiny Town section (bouncy castle/ slide/ playhouses/ child cars) and bring in your own food or book out the skate rink and have a skating/ bike/ scooter party.  Hourly rates on the WCC website.  Very popular and books out quickly.
  • Staglands: a fair trip out of town, but a lovely place to go.  Amazingly enough, you are welcome just to turn up with a birthday group, pay to enter and then use their BBQ facilities for free.  You can book ahead to have a table booked in the cafe with party goods, gift bags and (mainly) junk food.  $24 per child over 5 years old.
  • Bodies Under Construction in Lyall Bay is a gym with a huge indoor play area (similar to Junglerama).  You can book out the area for birthday parties.
  • Wellington Zoo has birthday party package details, I found the details of the party contract to be rather strict and forbidding.  Their cancellation policy does not seem to take into account the fluctuating nature of children's birthday parties (eg no change to numbers on the day) - so is perhaps more suitable for older kids (maybe 10+).  They do have lots of good experiences available, as well as sleepovers.  If though you just turn up with lots of children and a picnic basket you can have a very lovely party in any of the picnic areas.  I recently attended an animal theme party at the zoo with a scavenger hunt.  The party was held early in the morning, as the zoo opened.  It was a really good time to have the party.
  • Renting small, council owned parks.  I have been to several birthday parties at small parks in Newtown.  As long as you do not deny access to other users, you can book the park as a party venue.  I attended such a party at Carrera Park in Newtown.  The parents had hired a petting zoo which set up at one end of the park, and the children were able to visit the animals, play on the play equipment or just sit down and eat.  Nice.  Some council parks (like Island Bay park) have gas BBQs as well - first in, first served.
  • Carter Observatory
  • The Island Bay Marine Reserve - I can't find the information on their website, but have seen promotions of their birthday party service at their permanent display in the Reading Cinema complex.
  • Maranui cafe.  You can rent a large, downstairs room (perhaps from the Surf Club).  It has a modern kitchen and a lovely view on to the beach.

Family friendly destinations
  • Aotea Lagoon in Porirua: Fort, toddlers playground, ducks and geese to feed, windmill, little train and rose garden.
  • Island Bay Park: complete with Pirate Mast, Band Rotunda, free gas BBQs and the usual swings and slides.  Sand dunes!  Downside:  open to busy roads so kids need eagle eyes on them.
  • Te Papa: charges for special exhibits and some attractions.  There is a great outside area to Te Papa with bushwalk and sand pit where you can 'unearth' dinosaur bones.