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 a 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.

Holiday homes

The festive holiday season brings extended families together, many gathering at campsites or at the family holiday home - called either a bach or a crib depending on the region.

Small and rustic with tents and caravans on the lawn, or more extensive contemporary houses, a bach is the place of long relaxing weekends and extended holidays where memories are made.

Camping grounds are also popular holiday spots and a good place to meet the locals. Generations of campers return year-after-year with their tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes to the same camping sites where they’re ‘at home’ in a regular holiday neighbourhood.

Many family baches and holiday homes are available for rent over the holiday period, and there are extensive networks of campsites throughout the country. The Department of Conservation (DOC) is in the process of opening or developing 100-plus new wilderness campsites.

Summer holiday activities

Summer holiday activities typically involve swimming, boating, fishing, snorkeling, surfing, waterskiing, kayaking, 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.

Picnics and barbecues

No true kiwi holiday would be complete without its share of picnics, barbecues, and casual summer meals. It’s a great time of the year for foodies because vegetables and fruit are at their freshest and best, and - if there are fishermen in the family - fish and seafood ready for harvest. Otherwise, there’s usually a food store or outdoor café somewhere near.

It’s also the season of wine festivals, town and country agricultural shows, race meetings, and when many local pubs and parks feature live music and entertainment as well known New Zealand artists take to the road on extensive summer road tours.

New Zealand Family Travel Guide

The New Zealand Family Guide is a useful travel guide for family-friendly, cheap and free things to do while holidaying in New Zealand.

Written for both New Zealand families and those visiting from overseas, the book gives tips to parents embarking on road trips, camping trips, campervan holidays and flights to different parts of the country. It also includes suggestions for hassle-free transportation, where to find the local information centre, public toilets with changing facilities and much more.

Kiwis on the roads

If you are on the road in New Zealand this summer, please watch out for our precious kiwis.The Department of Conservation has issued a warning to motorists to take care - especially north of Auckland - that they don’t inadvertently run into any little brown flightless birds.

More information:

Kid friendly travel NZ