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When summer comes in New Zealand, the North Island is the only place to be and we’ll show you where best to enjoy it all!


There’s never not a good time to be in New Zealand. No matter what the time of year, in what part of the country you’re in, there’s always stuff to do. Yet, summer is the undisputed king of the seasons in NZ, certainly in the North Island anyway. The sun is out, the water is pristine and the beer is cold. 

We reckon that New Zealand, and particularly the North Island, get a bit of a dud rap when it comes to people’s ‘must-visit’ locations in summer! You ask most European or North Americans where they dream of spending a southern summer and most of them will come back with somewhere in Australia. 

We’re not saying that places like the Gold Coast, Bondi, Ningaloo Reef or the Great Ocean Road are bad places to be in summer – not at all. What we are saying however is that New Zealand has just as many awesome places to spend a hot, sunny day in January as Australia does. And, it just so happens that the vast majority of those spots are in the North Island.

We love the South Island as well, more than we can say! Yet, the South Island really comes alive in the winter, when the slopes down near Queenstown are covered in lush powdery snow and the only thing sharper than the beating of your heart as you stand at the jump point for the Nevis or the Canyonswing is the lash of the cold air on your reddening face. 

We’ve had some of our best times in New Zealand down South, but not in the summer months. 

Summer’s for hanging at Ninety-Mile beach, or for kayaking in the Bay of Islands. It’s for zooming through the canopy outside Rotorua on a zipline, plunging down a hill in a zorb in your board shorts or even visiting a museum or two in beautiful Wellington. 

Oh, yeah. If you still want to go bungy jumping you could always do that in Auckland. 

Summer in NZ? We’ll show you how.  


Rotorua Canopy Tours 

WHAT: You will give Tarzan a run for his money zipping through this magical, untouched New Zealand forest. Roturua Canopy Tours is the only native forest zip-line canopy tour in New Zealand. The guided three-hour adventure will see you travelling a 1.2 kilometre network of zip-lines, swing-bridges and treetop platforms, 40 metres above the forest floor. The thrill of flying through breathtaking, peaceful, forested valleys, is unlike any other. The magnificent forest is also home to giant ancient trees and unique bird species. Roturua Canopy Tours is built on a reserve owned by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Their inspirational conservation project aims to return the forest to a complete pre-human state for all New Zealanders and international visitors to enjoy.  Since they started their conservation project and rat trapping in August 2012, a rare bird, the North Island Robin, has returned and visitors to the tour have been able to hear it.

WHERE: Just outside of Auckland. 

Cost from $129 

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

WHAT: Wandering through a valley of hot springs and bubbling mud baths is something reminiscent of ‘middle earth’, and that’s what you will find at this spectacular geothermal destination. Only 20 minutes south of New Zealand’s thermal centre, Rotorua, visitors can walk through one of the world’s youngest eco-systems to marvel craters, hot lakes, unusual thermal plants and wildlife. Explore the magnificent valley with a self-guided walk or join one of the guided eco tours. Waimangu Volcanic Valley was created as a direct result of the Tarawera volcanic eruption in 1886, and is the only geo-thermal system in the world that can be pinpointed to an exact time and event. This remarkable ‘must-see’ attraction has won multiple eco-tourism awards for conservation and sustainability. 

WHERE: 20 mins south of Rotorua. 

COST: $34.50

Green Glow Eco-Adventures  

WHAT: A kilometre long cave stretch with seven entrances awaits you on the west side of Waitomo caves. There is something for people of all experience levels at Green Glow, including caving, abseiling, rock climbing and photography. Create your own unique tour consisting of your guide and whoever you bring with you! The maximum size is six people, and you can set your own pace. One of the many highlights of exploring the Waitomo caves is getting to stop and check out the glowworms when you turn out your light! This is a “dry” adventure, meaning you wear comfortable clothes and generally stay out of the water, as opposed to Black Water Rafting when you wear a wetsuit and sit in a tube up to your waist in cold water! 

WHERE: Waitomo Caves. 

COST: from $190

Hiking New Zealand Eco Tours

WHAT: These eco tour groups offer you the chance to experience wonderful adventures, some of them up to 27 days long! The best part? They operate throughout the whole of New Zealand and are carbon neutral. 

From river canoes to skiing, prepare to see volcanoes, rivers, rainforests, canyons and a huge variety of flora and fauna. These eco-tours are approved by the Department of Conservation, proving they have passed all necessary environmental and safety standards that are set to keep the area preserved. The concession fees also go towards the management of natural and historic resources. Hiking NZ also run a great program called ‘Trees For Trampers’ where they will plant a tree on your behalf so everyone can do their bit for the environment, regardless of how busy you are! This encourages bird life and new plants to grow so future generations can see what you do – and we love all manner of tress and birds, after all. 

WHERE: All around.

COST: Prices vary.

Raglan Beach 

WHAT: Widely regarded as a surf spot to rival Piha Beach, Raglan is another world-class location for surfers and body boarders alike because of its consistent conditions. It is situated on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island in the Waikato region and is most famous for having one of the longest left-hand breaks at Manu Bay. Aside from being a renowned surfing beach, Raglan has plenty of other fun activities if the long board doesn’t float your boat. Visitors can kayak, kite board, horse ride along the beach, fish for dinner, hike the local trails, mountain bike or simply take a walk along the rocks and admire the black sand and spectacular sunsets. Another top tip is to take the short walk to the top of Bridal Veil Falls, 55 metres up with an impressive view. There are plenty of things to keep any visitor busy in this dramatically scenic area. You could, of course, always just ditch the walking and relax in the sun instead.

WHERE: Waikato, North Island.

COST: Free

Ninety Mile Beach

WHAT: Ninety Mile Beach, on the north-western tip of New Zealand’s North Island, is famous for its expansive stretch of golden sand. However, despite the name, the beach is actually only around 60 miles long (yeah, we don’t really know why either). One of the beach’s biggest drawcards is the enormous sand dunes that line its edge, creating a blustering Mad Max-style desert landscape. Not surprisingly, water-based activities are not necessarily the most popular pastimes at this beach. Visitors can grab body boards to sand surf down the dunes before making the long journey back up to the top and flying down all over again. Other fun things to do include quad biking, joining a guided tour that drives right across the beach or “sandy highway” and, of course, sampling one of the best left-hand surf breaks in the world. Also, close by at Cape Reinga is the spectacular lookout where visitors can see the Pacific Ocean dramatically collide with the Tasman Sea. So much prettiness!

WHERE: Aupouri Peninsula.


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