Best summer activities in New Zealand
Summer has almost arrived in New Zealand! The New Zealand summer runs from December till February, when the average temperature is 20° C to 25° C. New Zealand is very nice in the summer, but I personally find celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve strange with warm weather! To give you some inspiration for a great summer, see my top 6 summer activities (in no particular order) below.
What could be better than discovering this beautiful country with a camper and waking up in the most beautiful places? Camping in New Zealand is very popular in the summer and for good reasons! Many tourists choose to rent a camper and go out and about. You can make camping as adventurous as you want. During the summer in New Zealand you can go “wildcamping” in many places, but this is only allowed if you have a toilet on board yourself. You can also stay overnight at free campsites, with few facilities and the more expensive you make it, the more facilities you will have. I always recommend the “Campermate” app, this app shows where the campsites are located and how expensive they are. The app also shows sights, public toilets and showers, gas stations and much more. It helped me a lot while camping around New Zealand!
Personally, I prefer to go camping on the South Island because I love the rugged nature. My favourite places are Fiordland and West Coast as there are so many nice stops on the way and you can find the most amazing cheap and free campsites.
Summer is when most of the events and festivals take place in New Zealand. Music events such as Splore (Auckland, February), Rhythm and Alps (Wanaka, New Years) and Rhythm and Vines (Gisborne, New Years) are very popular.
If you are a beer lover you can go to The Great Kiwi Beer Festival, which takes place every January in Christchurch. Besides drinking beer, you can also listen to music, eat and attend lectures where you can increase your knowledge about beer.
Sport events such as mountain biking and running also take place in the summer in New Zealand. The Coast to Coast is a special sporting event that takes place every February in the South Island. During this event, participants must run, cycle, walk and kayak!
Whether you want to participate in one of the events or just want to attend, there is plenty to do! Check out more fun events in New Zealand.
3. Adrenaline activities
New Zealand is known as the place where you can do a lot of adrenaline activities, especially in Queenstown. That is certainly true, but it is not just limited to Queenstown.
Skydiving, jumping from an airplane at an altitude of 4000 to 6000 meters. It attracts many tourists to New Zealand every year. It is therefore possible to skydive in many places in New Zealand. Of course it is possible in Queenstown, but also in the Bay of Islands, Taupo, Wanaka, Franz Josef and Abel Tasman. Because of that it is important to decide what you want to see while jumping and how much money you want to spend on it. Taupo is generally the cheapest. In Abel Tasman you can see both the North and the South Island during your dive. In Franz Josef you can see the glacier and at the Bay of Islands the many islands. Either way it is a special experience! Find your skydive here.
Bungee jumping originated in New Zealand, so there are many places where you can bungee jump. The Nevis Bungy is located in Queenstown, at an altitude of 134 meters it is the fourth highest in the world. The bungee in Rotorua is “only” 43 meters high and is the cheapest option in New Zealand. In Auckland, you can jump from the Harbour Bridge from a height of 40 meters while enjoying the view of the city. The bungee jump in Taupo is 47 meters high and here you can choose to touch the water of the river during your jump. Perhaps the most important is the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, this is where the world’s first commercial bungee jump took place in 1988. Kawarau Bridge is also located in Queenstown. Check out all bungee jump locations.
In New Zealand you can also raft in several places. Of course this is also possible in Queenstown on the Shotover River, which has a difficulty level of 3 to 5. For the real adrenaline junkies you can raft on the Wairoa River in the Bay of Plenty. Here you will raft on two rivers with a difficulty of 5 and you will go down many waterfalls. The Kaituna river is also a cool place for rafting, because here you can raft from the highest commercial waterfall in the world. This waterfall has a height of no less than 7 meters! Book your rafting trip easily here.
I personally had never heard of this before going to New Zealand, but it is a very popular activity. These boats have a jet engine at the back, which makes them very fast, so this is certainly not a relaxing boat trip! Jet boating is usually done on narrow rivers where many sharp turns and 360 ° turns are made. This is not suitable for people who get nauseous easily! You can do this special activity in Queenstown, Taupo, Glenorchy, Whanganui, Akaroa and Wanaka. Look here for more information about tours.
In New Zealand you can also go tobogganing. There is a toboggan run in Queenstown and in Rotorua. You can steer and brake yourself on these tracks. The tracks are quite wide so there is enough space to overtake other people and therefore to hold competitions, it’s very fun with a group! Both tracks are located in stunning locations with beautiful views.
New Zealand summers are excellent for hiking, which is very popular in New Zealand. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and it is perfect for those on a budget as it is completely free! There are a lot of hikes in the country, below I will mention a few of my favourites on the North and South Island.
One of my most favourite hikes in New Zealand is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is a beautiful hike near Taupo in Tongariro National Park. The hike takes you past active volcano craters, geysers, a lava flow, lakes, forests and at the end you have a beautiful view over the park. The hike is almost 20 km long and you walk from A to B. You can park the car at the starting point of the hike and take the shuttle back to the parking lot.
Urupukapuka Island is an island in the Bay of Islands. You can get there by boat from Paihia or Russell. This island is quite small and can be walked all the way. The Urupukapuka Island Walk is 7.3 km long and takes you all over the island. You walk through forests where you can see native birds, along many secluded beaches, cliffs and viewpoints. Also keep your eyes open during the boat trip because you can spot dolphins and whales.
This hike is more of a walk, but a very beautiful one. The Huka Falls Track (or Spa Park to Huka Falls Walk) is located in Taupo. During this route you walk from the center of Taupo to the Huka Falls. The entire route follows the Waikato River. Along the way you can see people bungee jump and you also walk past a natural hot spring. This hot spring has an ideal temperature and therefore you can also relax here.
Mt Maunganui (Mauao) Summit walk is also a nice hike, it is located in the Bay of Plenty. Mauao is an extinct volcano of 232 meters that you can climb. The walk up takes about 40 minutes and is quite tiring. From the top you have a beautiful 360 degree view of the Bay of Plenty. Don’t be surprised if the locals literally run past you, it is a popular workout for them.
My most favourite hike on the South Island is Roy’s Peak in Wanaka. This is a tiring 5 hour hike, of which you walk uphill for three hours. But it is well worth it! At the top you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains.
The Hooker Valley Track is another famous hike and also incredibly beautiful! This is an easy hike because it is very flat, but I think it’s also one of the most beautiful hikes. During this hike you can see Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. In addition, you can enjoy glacier lakes and rivers and other mountains that surround the walking route. This is a must for everyone!
In Arthur’s Pass I did the Mt Bealy Track. This was a very tough hike, but definitely worth it. This hike takes 6 to 8 hours and goes uphill a lot. You will walk through forests, open, grassy, fields and rocky areas, so it is very versatile. Meanwhile, you can enjoy views of the valley and the native birds that live there (such as the Kea).
Godley Head is one of my favourite places in Christchurch. You have a beautiful view of the coast with high cliffs. I have gone here many times to watch the sunrise, it’s an amazing experience! But you can also walk here, there is a route to Taylor’s Mistake. This walk takes about 3 hours and offers views of the city, beaches, cliffs and on a clear day the southern Alps. Also keep an eye on the rocks below as you can spot seals, penguins and occasionally dolphins and whales.
5. Explore the water
New Zealand consists of many islands, so you are never far from water. The nice weather during the New Zealand summer offers the opportunity to make the most of it!
Would you like to try surfing or are you able to surf and would like to brave the New Zealand waves? Then the North Island is the right place for you. Raglan, Mount Maunganui and Taranaki are known as begin good surfing spots. In addition, all three are real surfers’ villages with a relaxed atmosphere.
Boat trips, they are literally everywhere in New Zealand. For example, you can take a boat tour to spot dolphins or whales in Kaikoura, to see an active volcano in the Bay of Plenty or to discover the beautiful Milford Sound. There are also many ferries to the different islands such as Waiheke Island and Stewart Island. Of course there is also a boat service to travel from the North to the South Island. Find the boat trip that suits your trip here!
Kayaking is also possible in many places in New Zealand. The most popular spots are Milford Sound, Coromandel and Abel Tasman.
Diving is also a popular activity in New Zealand during the summer. This is possible in many places around the North and South Island, but also around the surrounding islands. There are even two world-famous dive sites in New Zealand: Poor Knight’s Islands and Fiordland. Read more about diving in New Zealand here.
6. Visit farmers market
In many places in New Zealand you can find local markets during the summer, also called Farmers Markets. Here you can always find delicious fresh products, but you can also eat, drink and sometimes buy local craftwork. In many of the markets music bands are playing and the atmosphere is very nice! I cannot list all markets because there are really too many. So I recommend that you look up the nearest market to you.