This year, social entrepreneur and author Sir Ray Avery is forgoing strong alcohol, skewered lambs and his wife's Greek family who will "kill you with love and food" for deserted beaches, barbecues and a game of catch with his 2-year-old.

Sir Ray's usual summer holiday is a "big, fat, Greek wedding" affair in Sydney with tonnes of relatives, skewered meats and lots of laughter.

"There'll be about five different lambs cooking and they'll have a competition over who cooks the best one. They start drinking ouzo at 4am and keep going throughout the day."

Ouzo is an aniseed-tasting Greek liquor which Sir Ray said would "literally knock your brains out".


But this year he said he would give his liver a break and enjoy a nice, quiet summer at his Mt Eden home with his wife and two little daughters.

Sir Ray said Auckland was much quieter than usual in the summer break, and you could enjoy barbecues, or go to the beach or the park which would be virtually empty.

He said his family had decided to stay in Auckland to celebrate Christmas - the first time they had enjoyed it on their own since his younger daughter was born two years ago.

Sir Ray, who married at the age of 61, described one of his favourite summer memories. "I remember sitting on the patio surrounded by my wife and two young daughters, surrounded by sunshine, enjoying a good glass of wine when I looked around and thought, 'This is it, I've got a family, I've made it."'

He said people did not need to go away to have a good summer.

"I love New Zealand's summer, where you can switch off your phone and computer, and not bathe or wear shoes for a month while you enjoy spending time with your family."

Sir Ray said it was often difficult to do this, because although he worked from home he was usually too busy to play with his daughters.

"I'll be working on my computer and my daughter will ask me to play catch with her, and I'll say I can't ... but during Christmas I have time to play catch and anything else she wants to do."


He said this was the time to spend with family and appreciate those you love.