We’re back (after a well deserved break!) from our Christmas / New Year’s holiday to the land of the kiwis aka Blair’s home. Blair and his family did their very best to ensure Grace got a real taste of what it is like to have a kiwi summer in a few weeks, and it truly was a little “slice of heaven” (as the famous kiwi song goes). We’ve picked our top 10 essential kiwi summer experiences to share with you!
1) Eat a real fruit ice cream
Have you ever seen anything look so appealing?! How these aren’t found all over the globe is a mystery to us, considering it’s simply ice-cream or frozen yoghurt mashed together with your favourite fruit to create a sweet, delicious and surprisingly healthy summer treat. Readily available at roadside orchards and fruit shops all over the country, it takes willpower stronger than ours to not crave one every day. With so many different flavour combinations to choose from (banana, cacao and raspberry to name a few), and usually only costing a mere $3-$4, there’s no excuse not to indulge.
2) See a gig in a winery
If you thought wineries were just for sipping wines and tasting cheese platters you thought wrong. REALLY wrong. Summertime brings with it an endless array of winery concerts all across the country for all tastes, combining the music you love with picturesque locations to create a vibe like no other. Big-time New Years festival Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne is the granddaddy of them all, offering a huge range of acts over 3 days, but if the smaller more intimate vibe is your thing then you won’t have to look far. We caught national hero’s Shapeshifter in an electrifying gig at Napier’s Sacred Hill Vinyard, and the world renowned Fat Freddys Drop recently rocked out in style at Villa Maria Estate on the outskirts of Auckland. Sunshine, good wines and great tunes, literally the perfect combination.
3) Road trip
One of the advantages of being such a tiny little country is that it’s easy to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, so don’t waste all your time stuck in the cities, get yourself some wheels and go exploring! The classic kiwi summer roadtrip is a rite of passage, many having gone on similar holidays with their families growing up. While taking a few weeks to navigate yourself around the whole country is the ideal situation, there’s plenty of cool places you can get to in a matter of hours if you’re only around for a few days. The Bay of Islands, or Coromandel Peninsula are both worth trekking to from Auckland, or if you find yourself down south, jump on the car ferry in Wellington and cruise over to Nelson and the nearby Abel Tasman National park. Stunning scenery no matter which direction you look!
4) Visit an island community
Because who wants to stick around on the mainland anyway! If the island life is for you then jump on a ferry and get yourself over to Waiheke Island, situated only 45 mins from Auckland out in the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. Waiheke really does feel like a whole new world, the island vibe being apparent everywhere from the quirky shops in Oneroa village to the crystal clear waters of Palm Beach. And did we mention Waiheke is one of NZ’s most prominent wine growing locations? Aside from having fantastic wines, some of the winery views are simply breathtaking. Check out The Bach or Cable Bay to see what we mean.
5) Participate in extreme sports
If you’ve ever met a kiwi on your travels who’s told you tales about how they surf in summer, ski in winter and mountain bike every other weekend, know that they weren’t some unique extreme sports fanatic, they were just like every other crazy kiwi. Yes the nation that convinced the world that tying a rope around your legs and jumping off a bridge was a good idea has an undying love for all things adventure, so get out there and join them! Wakeboarding is one of the more popular pastimes (Blair makes it look soooo easy…) and a novel way to cool off on a hot summers day.
6) Eat an overpriced (but delicious!) burger
If there’s one item of food that basically every kiwi from Cape Reinga to Bluff enjoys, the humble burger has to be it. No matter where you go in the country you’re guaranteed to find options aplenty to get your burger fix, with almost limitless flavour combinations to choose from. Definitely check out BurgerBurger or Big J’s Takeaways in Auckland, Ekim Burger in Wellington, and the world famous legend that is Fergburger in Queenstown. Special mention also goes to popular chain Burgerfuel, which can be found almost everywhere and without a doubt has the BEST aioli on the planet.
7) Hang out with a sheep
All jokes aside, kiwi-land is literally full of sheep. You don’t even have to get out into the countryside to find them! Cornwall Park right in the middle of Auckland also operates as a sheep and dairy farm, and being public access means you can easily get up close and personal for that perfectly kiwiana insta or snap. Springtime provides the most joy, with little lambs and cute calves bound to bring a smile to even the most stone-hearted travelers face. Just try not to anger mumma sheep too much.
8) Climb a mountain just for the view
New Zealand is really, really hilly. Be it the countryside, or the city (Auckland is built around 50 volcanic cones, 50!), you’re never going to struggle to find a nice vantage point to get your bearings and take in the landscape, or just pose for a cool photo. While you could drive, give your legs a workout and earn an extra sense of achievement by walking up where possible, the view will always be worth it! Mt Eden is your best bet in Auckland, with 360 views across the entire city.
9) Eat some wildcaught fresh fish
Don’t you hate it how fish is so expensive in the supermarket? And it never tastes as good as you hoped? Fear not, kiwis take matters into their own hands by simply going out and catching their fish themselves! Owning a boat isn’t just seen as something for the elite, everyone fancies themselves a master angler and will happily take you out in whatever proud vessel they own, no matter what the size. What could be more satisfying that catching, cooking, and eating your own fresh fish all in the space of a few hours… nothing that’s what.
10) Go for a post-meal walk
Finally If you’ve really stuffed yourself silly with real fruit icecreams, burgers, or fish, don’t retire to the couch… get out and go for a stroll! Healthiness aside, New Zealand is beautiful and what better way to soak it up than a wander along the beach, through a park or around the lake of whichever destination you find yourself in. Being a small country with a small population, NZ is blessed with an abundance of free space, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself with an entire beach or park to yourself. It’s tranquil, it’s pristine, it’s refreshing, and undoubtedly what makes NZ a little slice of heaven.
Know someone heading to the ‘land of the long white cloud’? Share this post with them to make sure they don’t miss out on any essential kiwi experiences?