The best things to do in New Zealand vary by season. While New Zealand is an incredible destination to visit at any time of year, it is especially enjoyable to explore in summer thanks to its proximity to the sea and to the warm weather that spans the entire country. Many of the best New Zealand attractions are nature-related – hiking, kayaking, and swimming, and the country has built a strong reputation for thrill seeking experiences such as bungy jumping and skydiving. With no shortage of unforgettable activities for travellers or locals who are interested in a little extra adventure, here are my picks for the top places to visit in New Zealand in summer:
Best Things To Do in New Zealand in Summer
1. Go Walking
New Zealand’s large expanses of native forest, plains and spectacular mountain ranges are perfect for summertime exploration. Hiking, or as it’s often called in New Zealand, tramping, is easy to plan – here are nine ‘Great Walks’, a collection of walks that highlight the diversity of New Zealand’s landscape. Through the Department of Conservation (DOC), visitors can book huts and campsites in advance of their travels to ensure a place to stay on overnight trips.
A tourist favourite (perhaps partly due to its appearance as Mordor in the Lord of the Rings series), Tongariro National Park is accessible to both beginners and experienced trampers. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing can be completed within a day, but seasoned trampers may consider completing the Northern Circuit, which takes 3-4 days and winds its way through deep valleys, quiet meadows and picturesque forests.
2. Kayak at Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove is quite possibly the most spectacular part of the Coromandel, known internationally for its role in the Chronicles of Narnia. Taking part in a guided kayak tour ensures you’ll experience islands and beaches that are adored by locals; sea kayaking allows visitors a way to explore areas that are often inaccessible to travellers, as well as a way to observe wildlife from up close.
3. Attend a Summer Festival
There are a variety of summer festivals you could visit. One of the most popular is Splore, another one is St Jerome's Laneway Festival, which held its first event in Melbourne in 2005 before branching out into Auckland. St Jerome's has become one of New Zealand’s biggest summer festivals. Hosting a variety of both Kiwi and international artists, its eclectic lineups are sure to please a wide range of music lovers, featuring arstists from many genres including hip-hop, indie, electronic and rock. The festival’s proximity to the city centre means ease of transport and accommodation for visitors; no need to sleep in a blazing tent for this one!
4. Cruise the Marlborough Sounds
The Marlborough Sounds are made up of over 1,500km of islands and peninsulas in New Zealand’s South Island. The best way to experience the exquisite beauty of the Sounds is to take a boat ride – the difficulty of accessing them by any other means only heightens the surreal experience they provide to visitors. It is possible to take a quick trip, a day-long cruise, or a ten-day tour; the choice is yours.
5. Bungy Jump in Queenstown
The adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown offers a wide array of outdoor activities including jet boating, parasailing, skiing and skydiving. Perhaps the most popular is bungy jumping – visitors can choose from a number of bungy jumps, ranging from a 43-metre bridge jump to the Nevis bungy, the southern hemisphere’s highest at a tremendous 137 metres.
6. Swim at New Zealand’s Best Beaches
Looking for free things to do in New Zealand in summer? Swimming is safe in summer, with popular beaches supervised by lifeguards. Both the countries’ North and South Island’s contain a plethora of unique beaches, and a hiring a car can be a great option if you want to explore as many as possible. Auckland’s west coast is home to Muriwai, a popular surf beach known for its unique black sand, while Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel has tourists and locals alike digging holes and bathing in their own makeshift pools – best enjoyed after the sun has set!
Author: Alex Cordier is based in Auckland, New Zealand and has worked in a variety of sales roles within the tourism and hospitality sectors in the country. Writing and traveling are her passion, and these have led her to several parts across Asia and North America. She enjoys writing about anything under the sun and has been published in various websites on topics ranging from travel, home living, to health and lifestyle. Find her on Twitter.