The colourful strobe lighting that rakes the glossy ice surface is new, but the stark bleachers, the local advertising on the billboards, and the big screen on the end wall don't seem to have changed since the 80's. Paradice Ice Skating is an Auckland institution. It was first opened in 1981 by a former dairy farmer, and still sits in its original, quasi-industrial location on the edge of New Lynn.
Ice Skating is big at the moment. Schools are operating temporary rinks as winter fundraisers and in recent years Paradice have been taking their brand into the heart of Auckland's Aotea Square for the school holidays. But the Lansford Crescent ice rink is the real deal. They operate public sessions from 1pm till 4pm on a Saturday or Sunday, or 10am till noon on a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. They hire skates in all sizes, frames to help younger children get the hang of being on the ice, clothing, and helmets that are both compulsory and free to hire for children under 6.
It doesn't come cheap. A family pass for 2 adults and 2 children comes to $52, unless you have an entertainment card or a promotional voucher on hand. But then again you'd pay the same for a family movie, and this is entertainment where you can talk to each other!
Dramatic lighting and pumping music, along with the occasional instructional video on the big screen, makes for a fantastic family treat. Whether you have the wobbles and are clutching the perimeter walls, or gliding across the ice for the duration of the three-hour session, it's an activity that anyone over the age of 3 can be involved in.
Wrap up warm, bring some spare change for rink-side coffees or hot chocolates and enjoy.