New Zealand Summer Guide

Witness seals, dolphins and whales frolic in the Pacific Ocean at Kaikoura against a backdrop of the Southern Alps.

To inspire you to plan a holiday worth remembering, we’ve sourced the best of New Zealand’s summertime settings. 

Road Trips

Auckland to Napier (via The Pacific Coast Highway)

Skirting beautiful coastlines, lush rainforests, sunny wine-making districts, and geothermal gems, the Pacific Coast Highway links Auckland to Napier with a transfixing 1000 kilometre journey.

Uncover the jewels of The Coromandel – scenic highlights include Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, Mercury Bay and Karangahake Gorge. Take in the beauty of the Bay of Plenty’s white-sand beaches and volcanic landscape. Detour inland to the famous geysers of Rotorua. Visit Mount Hikurangi and learn about sacred Maori legends. Treat yourself at the cellar doors, wineries and restaurants of the country’s oldest wine growing region, Hawke’s Bay.

Christchurch to Nelson (via The Kaikoura Coastal Route)

Meandering for more than 500 kilometres, passing mountainous peaks, wild beaches, fruitful wine regions, and indulgent spa country, the Kaikoura Coastal Route connects Christchurch to Nelson, with an unforgettable summer road trip.

Enjoy a long lunch amid the rolling hills of Canterbury’s wine region, the Waipara Valley. Unwind in the thermal pools of Hanmer Springs – New Zealand’s premier alpine spa destination. Witness seals, dolphins and whales frolic in the Pacific Ocean at Kaikoura against a backdrop of the Southern Alps. Taste world-acclaimed Sauvignon Blancs at Marlborough region vineyards. Succumb to the relaxed way of life of the charming seaside town Picton. Indulge in the artistic atmosphere of Nelson.

Great Lakes

Lake Taupo

Created nearly two thousand years ago by a volcanic eruption, and framed by the Lord of The Rings-famed mountains, Lake Taupo is a stunning summer setting. Centrally located in the middle of the North Island, the huge body of water is a popular summertime haunt for watersports, sightseeing and adventure.

Fish the world’s largest natural trout fishery. Kayak to Mine Bay’s Maori rock carvings. Witness the bubbling mud cauldrons of the Craters of the Moon Scenic Reserve. Visit the thundering Huka Falls. Hike surrounding forests. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the Lake front.

Lake Tekapo

An aqua blue glacial lake, burrowed between Two Thumb Range and Mt John, Lake Tekapo is a summer holiday destination of arresting beauty. Located in the heart of the Southern Alps, the area’s natural landscape provides picture-perfect locales for outdoor recreation and relaxation.

Immerse yourself in the hot pools of Tekapo Springs. Discover the Lake’s magnificence from above on an Air Safari. Saddle up and explore the Lake’s shores and mountainous surrounds on a horse trek. Marvel at the star-studded canopy of Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.

Urban Hotspots


Experiencing warm weather and low rainfall, summer in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is spectacular. Fringed by glistening harbours, green peaks and volcanic islands, Auckland brims with an incredible array of things to see and do.

Join a yacht charter and cruise Waitemata Harbour. Catch the ferry to the charismatic village of Devonport. Shop for the crème-de-la-crème of New Zealand fashion – like Karen Walker and Zambesi – in New Zealand’s fashion capital, Newmarket. Sample Polynesian influences and fresh local produce at the Avondale Markets. Soak up the sunshine with a drink in hand overlooking Viaduct Harbour. Day trip to the Hauraki Gulf and marvel at the area’s sparkling waters and emerald islands.


Regarded as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is an invigorating summer holiday destination. Comprising a diverse range of environments and remarkable wonders, plus an exciting cosmopolitan cityscape, Queenstown is always abuzz, no matter the season.

Traverse the famous Dart River on an exhilarating jet boat escapade. Take in the scenery with a bird’s-eye view, skydiving at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour. Discover outstanding alpine vistas on a breath-taking tree-to-tree zip-line course. Overcome fear from 109 metres up, plummeting through a valley at 150 kilometres per hour on a canyon swing. Travel by the Skyline Gondola on an extraordinarily picturesque route to the famous Kiwi Haka Show.

Plan Your New Zealand Summer Getaway

Words by Alice Nash - Published 21 October 2013
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