Top 8 things to do in New Zealand this summer

Summer is here in New Zealand (finally, thank god!). Everybody gets so excited for summer – most of us get about 10 days leave over Christmas and New Year, there are a couple of public holidays thrown in the mix, and the weather is usually pretty damn stunning.

We love using our summer weekends to their full potential – camping, hiking, going to the beach, and getting out and about in our home city of Auckland.

If you’re a native kiwi or are thinking of visiting, check out our list the top things to do in New Zealand this summer!

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things to do in new zealand this summer

#1 Go camping

Camping is our number one recommended activity for the summer season. What’s better than sitting in a comfy chair with a beer at a gorgeous camp site on the coast or by a lake, soaking up the sunshine. Yep – nothing!

As we’ve mentioned before, Department of Conservation campsites are our favourites – they’re cheap and usually in the best locations. Tents and camping equipment can be cheaply purchased from places like The Warehouse, Kmart, and Torpedo 7.

Read our post about freedom camping rules here.

#2 Go to a vineyard concert

Vineyard concerts have become a ‘thing’ in New Zealand in recent years. There are usually a few New Zealand bands (and sometimes some international ones) that do a tour of vineyards across the country through the summer months.

In February, we are going to see Fat Freddy’s Drop, one of Shaun’s favourite bands, perform at Cable Bay Vineyard on Waiheke Island near Auckland. We can’t wait!

Mission Estate Hawke's Bay

#3 Go SCUBA diving

Summer is the best time to get out on (and under) the water. The water is warm and the fish are more lively, and there might even be some dolphins around. We love SCUBA diving, and totally recommend getting subsurface at the Poor Knights Islands with Dive! Tutukaka. We had a fantastic experience with them last summer and will hopefully head their way again this year!

#4 Discover some of New Zealand’s amazing beaches

Fact: New Zealand has some of the world’s most incredible beaches. Think I’m lying? Nope, even CNN says so. With a huge coastline relative to New Zealand’s land area, there are beaches to be found everywhere. Some of our favourites are in the Bay of Islands, North Auckland, Coromandel, and Abel Tasman National Park. Check out these beach snaps from last summer!

Waewaetoria Island, Bay of Islands

#5 Go on a hike

With less chance of rain than in other seasons, summer is the best time to go hiking (or tramping, as we call it in New Zealand). NZ offers some of the world’s best hiking – the Milford Track in the South Island is the most well-known, but there are 8 other ‘Great Walks’ spread around the country. There are also many other hiking tracks throughout New Zealand’s bush – both in the mountains and near the coast. You can do walks that range from less than an hour to weeks long, if you want!

We’ve done fantastic hikes at Tarawera, the Hunua Ranges, and Cape Brett (post coming soon!). Hopefully we’ll do some more this summer!

tarawera trail

#6 Embrace summer in the city

If you’re stuck in the city, never fear! Summer is the time when there are heaps of outdoor events on. In Auckland (where we live), there are outdoor concerts, farmers markets, outdoor cinemas, a seafood festival, and many other events that celebrate summer. Check out Eventfinda for things happening near you!

We’ve also written a post about what to do if you have 36 hours in Auckland.

Beautiful Auckland City and the Skytower

#7 Go on a scenic flight

We think that the best way to see New Zealand’s stunning natural landscape is to get up in the air on a scenic flight. Yes, they’re not cheap, but you’ll love every minute. We’ve flown around Mt Cook and from Wanaka to Milford Sound. It seems that there are more and more operators offering scenic flights in different parts of the country every time we look – so you can probably go on one almost anywhere!


#8 Go on a road trip

Summer is the time for road trips, don’t you agree? With the windows down and the warm air streaming in, roadies are the best part of a summer holiday. New Zealand is an excellent place to do a road trip – it’s definitely the best way to see our country, and we have some stunning scenic roads! Drive up the West Coast of the South Island, along the Coromandel coast road, around East Cape, and through Central Otago. The scenery is varied and awe-inspiring, and there are always places to stop for ice-cream along the way!

Check out our Road Trips section for New Zealand road trip itineraries.

mercer bay

Check out our New Zealand travel section for all our New Zealand posts (there are many we haven’t linked to here), and check back soon for more posts as we have our own adventures this summer. We hope you have a fantastic summer – let us know what you are getting up to in the comments section below! Do you have any suggestions for things we should do?

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