This year, more than ever, we're ready to soak up the Kiwi summer in all its glory. Make sure you squeeze every inch out of your break with time spent in one of the country's most 'summersational' spots.
Smoky barbecues, sunscreen, jandals, salt drying on the skin, sticky fingers from melting ice cream, forgetting what day it is… it's almost here! The summer holidays are tantalisingly close and this year especially we all deserve to revel in the sun-drenched beauty of Aotearoa's amazing spaces. Whatever the budget, there's a spot to restore, recharge and remind us how lucky we are. Here, we spotlight six places that exemplify the Kiwi summer dream.
KAI IWI LAKES, NORTHLAND
Thirty minutes north of Dargaville, you'll find a set of lakes with fresh water so clear they glisten like multi-faceted jewels. The three Kai Iwi Lakes make up part of the Taharoa Domain, a 538-hectare recreational reserve that checks every summer wishlist. Let the kids splash about in the warm shallow waters that rim the deep dune lakes, while you sit on the pristine white sand shore. Or get busy kayaking, windsurfing, fishing for rainbow trout or taking advantage of the extensive walking track system within the reserve. Base yourself at the Dargaville Holiday Park and all the Kauri Coast's treasures will be right at your fingertips.
There's no shortage of places to live out the quintessential Kiwi summer in the Coromandel. Kuaotunu, a laidback seaside settlement 18km north of Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula, is no exception. The beach itself is safe and sandy, and you might spot dotterils nesting here and possibly a dolphin or two offshore. But it's the stellar eats and clever crafts in the area that will beckon summer revellers too. Peruse the shops, including the local art gallery, and make sure to stop in at Luke's Kitchen, renowned for its woodfired pizzas. Sweet tooth? Visit The General Store for the famous Kuaotunu Killer ice cream (wet wipes at the ready).
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WAINUI AND MAKORORI BEACHES, GISBORNE
Want to be among the first in the world to greet the sun? The ruggedly beautiful twin beaches of Wainui and Makorori on the East Coast, north of Gisborne township, are magic spots for soaking up some killer sunrises, sunsets too for that matter. They're also a surfer's mecca, world famous for the consistency and quality of their breaks. Wine lovers will also be spoilt for choice in these parts – especially chardonnay drinkers. Head less than 20 minutes from the beach into the township and you could be sampling some of the country's best at the Gisborne Wine Centre. And don't miss the Gisborne Farmers Market every Saturday morning to sample the region's fabulous produce.
Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve, with its famed golden sands and turquoise waters, is a natural wonderland, encompassing Kaiteriteri Beach, Kaka Point Historic Reserve, Kaka Island, Kaiteriteri Estuary, Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park and the hills with native bush surrounding the beach and estuary. Choose from swish apartments, cute cabins or good old-fashioned Kiwi camping and then all you need to do is decide which of the many activities to partake in: the cycling is sublime, with trails for every ability, and there are endless ways to get close to that beckoning turquoise, from waka tours to kayaking and even a coffee cruise. Plus, Kaiteriteri is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park when you're ready to explore further into this golden paradise.
Spotting ocean creatures, either by sea or by air, is a Kaikoura speciality – this coastal town is a marine mecca and at all times of year you can expect the privilege of watching sperm whales, seals and albatross in their natural habitat and dusky dolphins. If you're up for it, you can even don a wetsuit and join a few of these creatures in their ocean environment, from a respectful and safe distance of course. Located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from farmland beneath the mountains, this picturesque locale truly has it all. Choose from a great range of accommodation choices from basic to luxury and, of course, seafood fans will be spoilt for choice: crayfish essential.
If wide open spaces make you come alive, then perhaps there's no better spot to fill your lungs than Mackenzie Country, located in the heart of the South Island. New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook, is located in these parts as are glaciers, golden grasslands and colourful lakes. During the summer at Lake Tekapo, you'll be mesmerised by the dazzling lake and floral blooms of the lupin. And, come night time, you'll be in for a magical treat too: stargazing. The sky here is so devoid of light pollution that the night sky is crammed with stars as far as the eye can see. It's the southern hemisphere's sole dark sky reserve and one of only eight in the world.
We think you'll love 3 nights in the Bay of Islands staying at The Duke of Marlborough in Russell with a Discover the Bay Cruise from just $589*pp double share. Airfares are additional.
*T&Cs apply. Valid until 04 Nov 2020. Contact your local Flight Centre 0800 888 748 flightcentre.co.nz
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com