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New Zealand Summer

Summer in New Zealand means sizzling barbecues and salads, sauvignon blanc, swimming at the beach, and long lazy days at the bach or crib - Kiwi for a holiday home.

Christmas is celebrated in shorts and T-shirt style, as the bright crimson blooms of the pohutukawa - New Zealand's native Christmas tree - line the coasts with festive colour.

From December to February, New Zealand is alive with the sound of crickets, and not just the insect variety. As soon as the weather warms up, Kiwis vacate the cities and head to baches, campgrounds and holiday resorts up and down the country.

Kiwi summer holiday experiences

While most of New Zealand takes a holiday at some time during January, it’s also a great time for tourists to experience the laid-back nature of New Zealand life at its best.

Traditionally kiwi summer holidays take place in the great outdoors and - in a country with almost endless coastline, a myriad of inland lakes, rivers and mountain streams - that’s usually somewhere near water where water-based activities provide the best place to enjoy the summer sun.

There’s a holiday destination with the pace to suit every style - from busy beach resorts to tranquil lakesides, easily accessed wilderness campsites or remote wayside spots for high energy trampers and hikers.

Summer holiday activities

Summer holiday activities typically involve swimming, boating, fishing, snorkeling, surfing, waterskiing, kayaking, dabbling feet, beach cricket, sandcastle or dam building, hiking or tramping, and getting together with friends and family at picnics and barbecues.

Lots of kiwi families own their own boat, in some form or other - yachts, jet boats, motor and rowing boats, or kayaks are popular summertime means of transport. Auckland is known as the ‘city of sails’ for good reason, and there, as well as in many other centres throughout the country, yachting regattas are a regular feature of the summer seascape.

The New Zealand passion for water and sports has even seen the development of new thrills - jet boats and blokarting (a form of windsurfing on wheels) are two examples of what happens when kiwi ingenuity gets into gear.

Outdoor events

New Zealand celebrates at this time of year and there's a party to suit just about everyone. Summer is the season for outdoor food and wine events. The famous Wine Marlborough Festival - in northern South Island - is a wine connoisseur's dream, while the effervescent 'Rhythm and Vines' music festival - in the Eastland city of Gisborne - hums with a chic bohemian feel.

Iconic Kiwi bands travel the country on their summer pilgrimages to coastal towns and lakeside villages. Cultural festivals like Te Matatini - the national kapa haka traditional Maori performance competitions - and the Pacifika Festival celebrate the arts, and New Zealand's unique tapestry of cultures.

For those with a sense of adventure, New Zealand's doors are thrown wide open. Land, sea, sky and mountains are teeming with activities for all ages and abilities, from extreme adventure to total relaxation. Summer is the perfect time to try river surfing, gliding and scuba diving or, for those who like their feet firmly on the ground, a hike in thousands of acres of National Parks.