How to enjoy summer in Aotearoa New Zealand
Nau mai, haere mai, and welcome to summer in Aotearoa! Everyone takes a long break over Christmas and New Year, so the cities empty out and we all head to our favourite beachside spot. If you want to know the best things to do, see, and eat during the warm months here in New Zealand, we’ve got you covered.
The best thing you can do in New Zealand is get out and about in nature as much as possible. Many Kiwis enjoy camping in the summer or going on road trips with friends, and there are many beaches and lakes that you can visit for swimming, surfing, sailing, water skiing, and more. There are also lots of beautiful walks and hikes through the forest with hidden waterfalls, and rockslides! The most important thing to remember is always wear sunscreen when you’re outdoors, even if it’s not sunny – New Zealand sun is harsh, and you can burn very easily. We also recommend having a pair of togs (swimwear) on standby, because you never know when you will have the opportunity to go swimming during the warm summer months.
There are many beautiful places here in Aotearoa, but these are just a handful of our favourites, and the best things you can do there. When you’re out and about, you can also ask locals about where the best spots are – most people are friendly and happy to help.
The Coromandel – The Coromandel is full of beautiful beaches, so it’s a perfect summer spot if you live in Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau).We recommend visiting Cathedral Cove – you can kayak here or walk. You can also enjoy the geothermal hot springs, dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach, or hike the beautiful Pinnacles Track through the Pinnacles Forest range.
Tairāwhiti (Gisborne) – Hidden away on the East Coast of the North Island, Gisborne is a small but vibrant town with heaps to do in the summer – there are beachside camping spots, short hiking trails, great beaches for surfing, and Rere Rockslide is only a short drive away. While you’re there, you should take a short drive up the coast and visit Tolaga Bay Wharf and walk the Cooks Cove trail.
Taranaki – Taranaki is home to world-famous surf break along Highway 45, the Sugar Loaf Islands, and a fantastic Coastal Arts Trail. You can hike the Pouāki crossing or visit the beautiful Taranaki Gardens – no matter what you enjoy in the summer, there is something for you in Taranaki.
Fiordland – Here, you can visit the Milford Sound, go on a helicopter or kayaking tour, visit glow worm caves, or see local wildlife at the Punanga Manu o Te Anau Bird Sanctuary!
Nelson – This lively little city at the top of the South Island has heaps of fun adventure activities. It’s a great place for outdoor lovers with cycle trails, sky diving, and is home to three National Parks - the Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park and Kahurangi National Park
Kaikōura – Here you can go whale watching, swim with dolphins, visit a seal colony, hike through the mountains, or go mountain biking! Kaikōura is a beautiful coastal town that you should definitely visit.
Christmas in New Zealand is an exciting time – the sun is out, the days are longer, and everyone is excited to take a break from work and host social gatherings. Christmas to us is about spending time with whānau (extended family or family group), friends, spreading aroha (love) and eating lots of kai (food). You’ll find classic Kiwi favourites such as ham, fresh seafood, pavlova, ambrosia, and more at most Christmas tables. Kiwis also love a summer BBQ, and it’s common for people to eat together outside, whether it’s fish and chips on the beach, roasting marshmallows over a bonfire, or a BBQ at a friend’s house.
Here are a few Te reo Māori phrases that may be useful in Summer:
Kia ora – “Hello” and “Thank you”. Mōrena – “Good morning” Haere mai – “Welcome”/ “Come in” Ka kite anō – “See you again” / “See you next time” Kei te wera! – “It is hot!” Whānau – extended family/family group Kai – Food Aroha – Love, deep affection
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and have a fantastic summer in Aotearoa New Zealand!
About the contributors
Kate Falloon is a fifth-year Global Studies and Arts student at the University of Auckland, and a summer marketing intern at Education New Zealand | Manapou ki te Ao.