Summertime embodies all of the things that being a Kiwi (or a New Zealander) is about! Warm sunny days spent enjoying the outdoors with good food, friends and family; December through to February is the time when New Zealanders make memories. The ‘land of the long white cloud’ offers endless opportunities to explore stunning landscapes and is ideal for everyone from adventurous solo travelers to families with young kids. To experience a true taste of Kiwi life, grab your togs (swimming costume) and jandals (flip flops) and give these eight things a go to discover how to experience a Kiwi summer like a local.
Take a road trip
Ask any Kiwi, summer means road trips! Lush native bush, picture-perfect white sand beaches, dramatic black sand beaches, volcanoes, geothermal areas, rich farmland and wine growing regions, New Zealand pretty much has it all and the car is definitely the best way to see it!
To drive from one end to the other is about 1200 miles with an iconic car ferry ride joining the two islands making everywhere very accessible. Renting a car is relatively inexpensive and will give you the ability to get off the beaten track and explore more remote parts of the country.
Many of the main roads including highways are winding single-lane roads so consider getting a smaller car that will be able to easily fit wherever you may end up roaming. Jucy Rentals is a great, locally owned company that caters to all needs from an ‘El Cheapo’ to luxurious self-contained motor homes.
Book a bach
Kiwi baches are probably one of the most honored traditions of New Zealand summer life. The term was originally used to describe a very basic holiday house but now also includes everything up to large, executive style alpine retreats. While hotels may be an option in the larger cities, staying in a bach allows you to enjoy places that are less explored and are a great way to get away from the crowds for a relaxing holiday! Whether you have kids, are traveling with a group of friends or are on a romantic holiday, find a bach to suit here.
No trip to New Zealand would be complete without a night spent camping! There are campsites (also known as holiday parks) in almost every location that you might want to visit. Although the facilities vary, most are very well set up with great cooking facilities, barbecues, pools, game rooms for the kids and shared bathroom facilities. If you don’t have your own tent, spend a night in an already set-up caravan or a cute cabin on the beachfront.
If back-country camping is your thing then freedom camping is a great way to stay in some unique locations. Make sure that you read the rules beforehand, abide by any signage and dispose of waste responsibly.
Have a beach barbecue
With long summer evenings, the beach barbecue perfectly epitomizes the Kiwi culture of good food and outdoor living surrounded by friends and family. While you are on holiday, make use of one of the council’s free barbecues that can be found on beaches throughout the country. There is no database for finding free to use barbecues so have a look at the beach that you are staying at or check out this article for locations within Auckland.
Barbecues are first-come, first-served basis and sometimes you will need to bring your own fuel. Steak, sausages, fish, corn on the cob and garlic bread are great options for your Kiwi beach barbecue and enjoy your dinner with a view!
Hike to a secluded beach
New Zealand is known for its amazing coastline and there are stunning beaches hidden all over the country that are only accessible by foot. Pack some lunch, swimmers and a towel and hike in to discover an incredible place that you can enjoy without the crowds. Have a look online to find secret beaches within the region that you are visiting.
Pick your own berries
Fresh is best and throughout the country during summer you can pick your own raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries, cherries and stone fruits. It is a fun day out and you will be eating berries for days! The type of fruit and dates available varies between the regions so check online before you head out to the farm.
Experience the outdoors
Kiwi summers are spent outdoors and no authentic trip to New Zealand is complete without enjoying as nature as much as you possibly can. For adventure seekers there is sky-diving, bungy jumping, white water rafting and caving but don’t forget the less extreme activities that are just as fun! Kayak at the beach, rent a boat and sail around a lake, jet-ski, try trout fishing, see glow-worms, snorkel or simply relax in a natural mineral spa! You can even sandboard down huge sand dunes on 90-mile beach or try zorbing where you roll down a hill inside a huge, see-through ball.
Enjoy New Zealand’s world-famous foods
New Zealand is not often talked about as a destination for foodies but with fresh produce, a multi-cultural influence and Kiwi ingenuity, world-class food abounds! Locally-made wines, cheeses, honey, lamb and seafood pave your way for a culinary tour of the country. Cafe culture is huge during summer and most serve food of a very high standard. Don’t forget to try a few kiwi traditions including bacon and egg pies, whitebait fritters, freshly caught terakihi, hokey pokey ice-cream, pavlova and a Maori hangi.