Walk to the summit of Mauao (Mt Maunganui)
Mauao is a dormant volcano that holds special cultural and historical significance to the Māori tribes of the Bay of Plenty region. The ancestral mountain stands 232 metres above the white sand beaches of Mount Maunganui and overlooks Tauranga Harbour. Mauao is alive with native flora and fauna, including the red blooming Pohutukawa tree that provides shade from the warm Bay of Plenty sunshine.The views from the top out towards White Island and the Pacific Ocean are breathtaking and it is here that it becomes obvious why Mauao has been prized by the locals for centuries.
View the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach – Auckland
Muriwai Beach, on Auckland’s west coast, is home to the most accessible gannet colony in New Zealand. The gannets return to Muriwai in July and from this time they re-establish contact with their lifelong mates. December is an exciting time as chicks clamour for food and parents nosedive spectacularly into the water at up to 145km per hour in search of fish to feed their young. Fur seals regularly feed and rest at Oaia Island, 1.6km off the coast of Muriwai Beach. During spring, they are quite often seen sunbathing on the rocks below the gannet colony.
Drive the Southern Scenic Route – Southland
The Southern Scenic Route takes in some of the most spectacular scenery New Zealand has to offer and offers the traveller a unique ‘off the beaten track’ experience. Much of its uniqueness and intrigue lies in the ever-changing backdrops and vistas where you can admire towering rainforests, rolling fertile farmlands and golden beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Opportunities abound to view wildlife in its natural environment, Hooker sea lions, NZ fur seals, Yellow-Eyed penguins and Hector’s dolphins all thrive in the area. Visit the Curio Bay Petrified Forest, one of only two Jurassic forests in the world. Stretching around the bottom of the South Island, the route begins (or ends) in Dunedin, travels through the Catlins region, on to Invercargill and then meanders up to Te Anau.
Frisbee Golf Course – Queenstown
Located in the Queenstown Gardens, merely a stone’s throw from the centre of Queenstown is the Queenstown Frisbee Golf Course, comprising 18 challenging holes throughout the gardens the course is popular with locals and tourists alike. Maps of the course can be picked up at Shoeclinic on Beach Street or R&R Sports on Shotover Street. As the course is located in the Queenstown Gardens it may pay to contact the Lakes District Council for further information about who is running the course.
Hot Water Beach – Coromandel
Hot Water Beach is located along New Zealand’s Pacific coast just south of Mercury Bay at the northeast tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. Some volcanos develop huge underground reservoirs of superheated water. Over time, this water will escape to the surface — cooling on the way. There are two fissures at Hot Water Beach issuing water as hot as 64ºC (147ºF) at a rate as high as 15 litres/minute. Hire a spade at the beach store for $5 and dig yourself a spa. Get there an hour before low tide to ensure a good spot and give time to dig a hole.
Self guided wine tour – Marlborough
As one of the sunniest and driest areas in New Zealand, Marlborough is home to the country’s largest wine production region with over 100 vineyards. Most of the wineries have open cellar doors that offer complimentary wine tastings, although no doubt you’ll be wanting to walk away with a few bottles! If you’ve got a rental car you can pick and choose as you wish and cross the beautiful scenery of this wine country at your own pace. Just remember to nominate someone else to drive! Located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the main city of Blenheim can be reached by car in four and a half hours from Christchurch or within half an hour after crossing from Wellington on the ferry.
Visit a National Park – all over the country
There are 14 spectacular national parks in New Zealand that along with protected forest parks, reserves and private land preserve nearly a third of the country’s land. And more that 25 marine reserves preserving New Zealand’s natural heritage Containing some of the country’s most treasured areas, they protect unique and beautiful areas that can be enjoyed responsibly by the public.
Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand – Wellington
Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, offering visitors a unique and authentic experience of this country’s treasures and stories. Over five floors, you can explore the nation’s nature, art, history and heritage – from the shaping of its land to the spirit of its diverse peoples, from its unique wildlife to is distinctive art and visual culture.
Fox & Franz Joseph Glaciers – West Coast
Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers, like many smaller others on the West Coast of the South Island, descend from the Southern Alps down into temperate rainforest just 300 metres above sea level. As these are among the most accessible in the world to visit, you can easily walk to the foot of the glaciers and marvel at the shear enormity of these moving ice masses.
BBQ at a beach or reserve – all over the country
Some parks such as Muriwai Beach have free BBQs to use. Most charge a $2 ignition fee, but this works out to less than a pound so it’s as good as free!