Your ultimate Kiwi summer bucket list


We truly are blessed with a stunner of a country here in NZ, and there's no better time to explore our own backyard than those hot summer days.

Whether you only get the chance to tackle one, or make your way through all ten, we've compiled a list of absolute must-do NZ activites for you to experience this summer. Bring on the long, warm days... we can smell the sunscreen already. 

Kayak Cathedral Cove
If you're a New Zealander and haven't visited Cathedral Cove, you need to change that ASAP. Only accessible by foot, kayak or boat, this gorgeous marine reserve - Te Whanganui-A-Hei - is arguably one of the most picturesque spots in the country. 

A day kayaking trip of the Cove will bring you to beaches, islands, rock gardens and caves, and you'll spot some amazing marine life along the way. There are heaps of companies you can do tours through, or even rent your own kayak and embark on a self-guided trip. Either way you're in for some stunning views and a serene experience. 

Dig your own thermal spa at Hot Water Beach
Hot Water Beach is world famous for a reason - it's pretty unique with it's thermal water bubbling directly under the sand's surface. You won't really find that anywhere else in the world.

So if you're anywhere near the Coromandel this summer, we very much encourage a visit to this gem. You can dig your very own hot pool in the sand right there on the beach - water can be anywhere up to 64 degrees celcius though, so be careful! There are places to rent spades at the beach, so don't worry if you don't have one. And if you're feeling lazy you might even be able to just take over someone elses pre-dug hole - but we reckon digging your own is part of the experience! The best time to visit is two hours either side of low tide to get the full hot water experience. 

Head off on a Waiheke Island wine tour
For all you Aucklanders wanting to escape the big smoke for a day of sunshine and vino, we have just the thing for you. Just a 40-minute ferry ride from the city is the gorgeous Waiheke Island, which is known for it's vineyards, beaches and warmer climate - it tends to be a couple of degrees warmer than Auckland! 

This summer, take a trip over the Hauraki Gulf on the ferry, and explore some of the countries best vineyards while tasting their delish wine. The perfect day trip to take with a group of mates, we'd recommend going through a tour company, making it easier to just sit back and enjoy the scenery and wine without having to worry about transport (the island can be kind of tricky to get around if you don't have a car). Make sure you do your research and find one that suits your budget and goes to vineyards your interested in though! Sunshine and wine, we can't think of a better combo.

Hike the Tongariro Crossing
One of the best one-day walks in the country, and even making some worldwide lists, Tongariro Crossing is a walk every Kiwi should do at least once. Although it is challenging, this 19km alpine trek is well worth it for the spectacular views, as well as the feeling of accomplishment!

You'll wander through New Zealand's oldest National Park, through the middle of three active volcanoes and see some spectacular volcanic landscapes. It is an alpine trek, so even in summer you'll need warm clothing - we recommend a thermal and a wind-proof jacket, and some sturdy walking boots. And don't forget the sunscreen! The walk will take you about 7 hours, but it's definitely not one you'll regret. 

Go strawberry picking
It's not summer until you've had your first strawberry punnet - and they're so cheap this time of year! But what's even more summery is picking your own berries to take home. It's great prep for all those summer desserts and champagne with strawbs. 

You can go berry picking all around the country, but because of the climate, Auckland and the surrounding areas have heaps of farms you can visit to pick your own berries. Normally it will be a flat charge for entrance to the field and you'll get your first kg or two of berries free. Lots of the farms now have shops where you can buy real fruit ice-creams made from the freshly picked berries, great for cooling off after a hot day of picking!

Explore the Abel Tasman by kayak
Abel Tasman National Park is NZ's smallest national park, and is famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush walks and spectacular scenery. Kayaking is an awesome way to explore the park, access sheltered coves, and even get some close encounters with the wildlife in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. 

You won't be stuck for options, with many tour companies offering half-day up to five-day tours of the park, including both kayaking and hiking. If you'd rather go it alone you can also rent your own kayak, just make sure you look up all the rules and regulations of exploring the park first.

Take a Milford Sound cruise
No list of 'NZ Must-Dos' is complete without a mention of Milford Sound. It's considered our countries most stunning natural attraction, with magical mountain peaks, rainforests and waterfalls. December and January are actually the two rainiest months of the year in Milford, but don't let this put you off - it's actually better to visit in bad weather because it makes the waterfalls even more spectacular! It's still warm, don't worry.

The best way to see the Sound (which is actually a fiord) is by boarding a cruise and exploring it by water - there are heaps of different tours on offer to suit every budget. Just do some research first and choose the best-rated one that fits your funds. You most definitely won't be disappointed with the views on offer.

Explore the Marlborough vineyards by bike
The Marlborough region features many of the things NZ is famous for - warm weather, breathtaking scenery, and most importantly, wine! Coined the 'Golden Mile', the 6km ride by bike from Rapaura to Renwick is a summer must for wine lovers. You can rent a bike from many different companies in the surrounding area, and download the free map and guide here. Then it's up to you to plan out a day of biking and sipping in the sun. 

The 'Golden Mile' will take you past 10 cellar doors where you can try some of NZs famous wine, and there are plenty of stops along the way to grab a bite to eat. This is a fun and rewarding way to explore the Marlborough wine region, and you can take it at your own pace so is perfect for all ages and fitness levels. Cheers. 

Brave the Shotover Jet in Queenstown
For all you adrenaline junkies, if there's one adventure you need to go on this summer, it's the world-famous jetboat ride down the narrow Shotover River canyons. Guaranteed to get your heart pumping, but with scenic views like no other. You'll experience 360 degree spins, narrow misses and breathtaking scenes, with Shotover Jet being the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover canyons. You couldn't get a more Kiwi experience if you tried. 

White water raft the Rangitikei River
Another one for the thrill-seekers. Aotearoa's famous mountainous terrain makes for some pretty epic white water rivers, perfect for hopping in a raft and exploring - don't be expecting a peaceful river cruise though. 

In the central North Island, near Taihape, is the Rangitikei River, which boasts one of the top Grade 5 white water rafting trips in the world. The trip starts off easy and gets harder as you go along the 11kms of river, getting your heart-rate flying while you experience the beauty of your backyard. The main tour company (River Valley) offers a range of different tours to suit all levels, so don't stress if you don't think you can handle the jandal. You do live in NZ after all though, so your summer has to include some adventure, it's in our DNA.