A New Zealand summer really is something magical – endless blue skies, ice-cream melting heat and endless options for taking a dip.
Everyone has their favourite swimming spot or hidden bay – and there are so many more to discover: Whether it is someone else’s old favourite your new adventure, we are passionate about getting you there.
So, in true hospitable Kiwi fashion – here is our definitive(ish) checklist to make the most of a true New Zealand summer.
Sliding down the sand dunes
The Te Paki sand dunes in Pukenui, Cape Reinga is your own desert paradise. BYO board or hire one from the businesses set up on-site and experience dune boarding.
We can’t decide if this is like a giant sandpit or a mini-desert, but either way, it is epic. Oh, and good luck keeping your mouth sand-free as you squeal with delight – yes, even you blokes
Hit the beach
Yup, again – lots of beaches. Whether its golden sand, black sand or some pebbles underfoot you require, old New Zealand has got all your bases pretty well covered.
Starting at the top, you’re going to want to visit Ninety Mile Beach in the far north; any beach on Waiheke Island; Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and Whangamata in the Coromandel; the famous Mount Maunganui, or perhaps even enjoy some ruggard surf in Raglan or on the Taranaki coastline.
On the east coast there is the aptly named Bay of Plenty – because, you guessed it, plenty of bloody beautiful beaches. There is also sunsoaked Gisborne where Wainui awaits, and down in Hawke’s Bay you can visit Waimarama or Ocean Beach.
When we get south – go the Abel Tasman. Home to golden sand beaches, you will have your pick of the bays and sand stretches – and when you get bored of one (good luck) you can just trek, kayak or water taxi round to the next.
Further south there is the rugged Catlins – and then there is Stewart Island which has the most hiddenest of gems!
Jumping off the wharf
We say “the” lightly as there are a fair few wharves throughout Aotearoa to take your pick from and join this unofficial (but kind of quite official) local past time.
The activity is self-explanatory. You basically just jump off a wharf/over-water platform into a body of water.
Luckily the legends over at the Wharf Jumping Association of New Zealand (a very official body) have tried and tested the nation’s offerings.
As well as educating people about safety (always check the depth, people) and the impact of climate change and pollution on the precious wharf jumping necessity of water – the WJANZ is your go-to guide.
Alternatively, Queen’s Wharf in Wellington (on a good day, of course) is pretty popular, and this is a handy guide to Auckland’s best.
Swinging into the lake
What better way to enter the water than by rope swing? Sure you could wade in gently, but that’s a bit boring isn’t it?! Why not head to Queenstown and find the rope swing along the shores of Lake Hayes?
We do love that swing.
If you do just want to wade in, or maybe enjoy some boating/picnicking etc etc – there’s a few other lakes you may want to visit.
For example, Emerald Lake on the Tongariro Crossing; Lake Taupo; Lake Mapourika near Fraz Josef; lakes Wanaka and Wakatipu; Lake Matheson; lakes Tekapo and Pukaiki; Lake Rotorua; Waikaremoana and Te Anau.
How many can you tick off?
A real fruit ice cream
Fresh, creamy and melting faster than earth’s ice stores (that’s not funny though) – nothing says “I’m having quite a lovely summer, thanks” quite like real fruit ice cream.
Located far and wide across our fair land, you will see signs for these national treasures – so we couldn’t possibly name them all.
However, we can provide tips for finding the best (and name at least a few tried and tested favourites).
Firstly, it is important not to settle for anything premade – what you’re looking for is some authenticity. This means you will need to watch them make it. Which sounds a bit crazy, but it is in fact perfectly reasonable.
Most real fruit icreamers and icecreameries worth their berries will be scooping the frozen goods into the machine right in front of you.
Secondly, the best creations are those scooped as close to the source of their real fruit as possible. So you’re going to want to be looking for berry farms, roadside fruit and vegetable stores and the likes.
Thirdly, and quite possibly due to the rustic nature of these creations (see point two) – you will be wanting a hand-written or quite poor quality sign directing you to the source. We don’t blame you for perhaps thinking such signage indicated low quality, but when it comes to real fruit ice cream – you are wrong. The worse the sign, the better: The businesses don’t need you, you need them (and their ice cream).
Fourthly, lines. The longer the line the better. Yes, you will risk heat stroke and getting caught behind all the slow cars again. But that’s all part of it. By the time you are united with your sweet, creamy nectar – you will be grateful you worked so hard.
Some of the tried and true real fruit ice creameries we can well and truly vouch for are:
- The Strawberry Patch, Hawke’s Bay
- Phil Greig Strawberry Gardens, Kumeu, Auckland
- Tomos Berries, Pukenui, Far North
- Arrowtown Bakery & Cafe, Arrowtown, Queenstown Lakes
- T.O.A.D Hall, Motueka
- Madden’s, Hahei, Coromandel
Visit the falls
Lol, got you again. There are so many falls!
But they are mighty fine and often make you work (well, walk) for them. Some are large tourist attractions (looking at you Huka Falls, Taupo) and while others are smaller – they are all worth the visit, and the resulting ‘gram of course.
Our favourite has got to be Sutherland Falls in Milford. These babies are the tallest in the country – and can be seen from a scenic flight or on your trek around the also spectacular Milford Track. Nearby you can also catch the Stirling Falls.
Also down south, but this time in the Catlins, are the Purakaunui Falls. These guys are made special by their three-tier formation – that’s three levels of highly Instagrammable, down-cliff cascading action.
Another southern gem has got to be the Devil’s Punchbowl in the Arthur’s Pass. Not only does it have quite possibly coolest name of all the falls, but it is quite a looker, too.
Then up in the North Island, we have the Kitekite Falls near Piha, the Bridal Veil Falls in Waikato and the Rere Falls near Gisborne.
At Rere there is the bonus activity of rock sliding down the falls. Yup, rock sliding down the freakin’ falls.
Hitting the road this summer? Book your Snap today!