'A brilliant day out': Eight experiences recommended by other Kiwis to add to your summer

'A brilliant day out': Eight experiences recommended by other Kiwis to add to your summer
Photo credit: Supplied

Summer really is the best time to do something new - whether it's as simple as touring a new vineyard, or as adventurous as discovering underwater worlds, there's something for everyone. That's why 100% Pure New Zealand has made it their mission to inspire Kiwis to make the most of their summer by doing something new.

So where do we get started?

"The warm days and long evenings make for a dream holiday, and we're spoiled for choice in terms of new to do," says Bjoern Spreitzer, General Manager Domestic from 100% Pure New Zealand.

"As Kiwis, we love to spend summer on, in and near the water.  Why not take advantage of the huge variety of incredible water experiences we have to offer around the country? Skip the simple swim and explore the aquatic wildlife in Kaikoura, or even kayak Milford Sound instead."

Spreitzer has hit the nail on the head with that one. Just like doing something new can be small, it can also be doing something a bit differently.

"Doing something new doesn't have to just be action and adventure based. It's just as adventurous to book a wine tour in Hawke's Bay, or a spa weekend as an extra treat over the break if that's more your speed. You could even go big and book a scenic flight over Aoraki/Mount Cook – whatever you do, make it new to make the most of this summer," Spreitzer says.

But don't just take our word for it. Who knows what Kiwis love, better than Kiwis themselves? To give you some inspiration for new things to do, we've trawled through reviews to bring you a selection of the most loved experiences around the country by other Kiwis!

Eight Kiwi-vetted experiences to help you add 'new' to your summer holiday:

1. Coromandel Surfs Up - Whenuakura 'Donut' Island Tour

Just off the coast of Whangamata is the wildlife sanctuary Whenuakura Island, known to locals as Donut Island.

After a brief paddle-board or kayak from the beach, visitors on this tour will get up close to Whenuakura Island - just one of many with sanctuary status. The guides on this tour pride themselves on not just looking after their guests, but protecting the local wildlife too.

'A brilliant day out': Eight experiences recommended by other Kiwis to add to your summer
Photo credit: Whenuakura (Donut) Island Tour

"Would highly recommend doing the tour!! Tuhi was our guide and he did an amazing job with keeping everyone safe and having a fun time. He was a great guy with a lot of knowledge. I would give him 'LEGEND' status!" a reviewer on Google said.

All tours are dependent on appropriate weather conditions and leave from Island View Road.

2. Whales by air and Dolphins by sea

See two of the most fascinating creatures on Earth from different perspectives, whales from the air and dolphins from the sea in Kaikōura, a beautiful coastal town on the South Island.

This combo deal includes a whale sightseeing tour flight and an up-close ocean dolphin encounter. You can also upgrade your tour and join the pod in the water with a dolphin swim. These two experiences are available at a great combo price.

"Encountering dolphins is a very emotional experience, for both our customers and our crew," Helene Simpson from Dolphin Encounter says.

'A brilliant day out': Eight experiences recommended by other Kiwis to add to your summer
Photo credit: Supplied

"Our crew are still blown away by what we experience each day and no matter how many years they work with us, they still come back buzzing from their experience. For our customers, it is often a lifelong dream and a bucket list experience, and realising that can be incredibly poignant and moving. We share a lot of tears (happy cries) with our guests and it's probably one of the most rewarding things about the job that we get to facilitate what can be a life changing/affirming moment for people."

Previous customers who have reviewed the experience on Google couldn’t speak more highly of the experience.

"This is probably one of the best days you can possibly ever spend. Our Guide and our Skipper were utterly professional. The dive gear we used was highly effective in keeping us from the chill of the ocean. Swimming amongst the wild Dusky dolphins on the Kaikoura coast was on another level. Thanks guys."

3. Whitianga Glass Bottom Boat

If you are interested in what's under the water, but aren't keen on jumping in, then this experience is for you.

The glass bottom boat at Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula gives guests the perfect vantage point to take in all the amazing coastal land formations both above and below the waterline. The two hour guided scenic boat tour includes a trip to the famous Cathedral Cove.

You can choose your level of fun. Either enjoy watching the marine life from the comfort of the boat or put on a mask and snorkel to swim amongst the fish. All essential equipment is provided.

"A great way to spend two hours exploring the coastline and marine reserve. Exhilarating experience on the boat when he throttled up and quickly took us to the next spectacular spot," a five-star reviewer on Google said.

Boat tour.
Boat tour. Photo credit: Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga

"Loads of marine life to see, and fantastic views of the coast line and a myriad of small islands to skip around. If the idea of getting wet with a swim and snorkel doesn’t appeal, you can still get a great view of the sea life through the glass bottom. Knowledgeable crew adds to the experience with something new for everyone to learn."

The Glass Bottom Boat offers a world class experience, right here in New Zealand. Come see for yourself why it's labelled the Coromandel's best boat tour.

4. Switched on Bike Tour Welly

At face value, the idea of cycling around Wellington might not seem all too appealing with its towering hills and steep roads – but that's half the fun thanks to Switched On Bikes' eBike guided tours!

Introducing you to Wellington like you've never seen it before, once you've dosed up on some of New Zealand's best coffee and learnt about the history of the city itself, you'll head for a tour of Wellington's beautiful bays and waterfront. As you glide through Oriental Bay, you'll see a harbour filled with swimmers and sun-bathers taking advantage of 'Wellington on a good day' (which is actually every day, the locals just don't like sharing that information).

Google Reviews summed up the experience as "a great option to see Wellington in a few hours!"

Electric Bays Tour.
Electric Bays Tour. Photo credit: Switched On Bikes.

"Genevieve, our tour guide, was very informative and fun. As she stopped to tell us about Wellington and NZ history, we also learned about the social & political dynamics of this beautiful capital city.

"Riding the E-bikes made the tour easy & effortless. The guys at the bike shop were extremely friendly & handy, making the whole checking process fast and easy. There are great eateries nearby to get good food after the ride."

5. Beachcomber Cruises - Paua Pearl Tour

Departing Picton, this cruise takes you through the Queen Charlotte Sound, a myriad of other waterways and tranquil bays. Your friendly skipper is on hand with any information you need about all the stunning things you will see, but there's a high chance you'll be speechless.

Since the end of the historic whaling industry in this area, it has given way to salmon, mussel and oyster farms which the cruise passes through on the way to Whekenui Bay, home to the Radon family.

On arrival you will be greeted by Mike and Antonia Radon, the owners of Arapawa Seafarms, where the unique Blue Pearl or Paua Pearls are grown. They will personally guide you on a tour of the farm, which is not only a place of work but also their home. Discover how the Blue Pearl came to be and see how they are produced. 

One reviewer said the experience was a "brilliant day out!"

"Did a four and a half hour mail run around the Sounds. Our captain was brilliant with an entertaining and educational commentary.

"The boat has both inside and top side seating. Definitely bring a warm jacket if you plan on staying on the top side."

Don't miss this opportunity to glimpse a unique part of New Zealand marine life and spend time with experts in the paua industry. Tours take approximately one hour.

6. Welcome Rock - Hiking & biking trails plus Unique Accommodation

What makes this area so stunning is the view from 1,000 metres above sea level.

At the top of Welcome Rock station you'll be amazed by the absolutely magnificent panoramic views, the schist rocks towering over you, giant tussocks, pristine Beechwood and complete and utter privacy.

Within this 2,000 hectares of heaven on earth, there's just you, a few deer and the occasional falcon. This location takes going off the grid to a whole new level. Yet, it's only five minutes from Garston or 45 minutes scenic drive from Queenstown

Just under Welcome Rock sits the Slate Hut, the newest hut which offers shelter, an outdoor cooking area and bath at 1100 metres above sea level. Yes, a bath in the middle of nowhere. 

Imagine the stars.

Watch the sun setting over the Mataura Valley and Eyre Mountains with extraordinary views, under a towering natural schist rock formation in the shape of a falcon. If you are making a booking, the hut will be exclusively booked for your privacy.

Hike The Trail.
Hike The Trail. Photo credit: Welcome Rock.

"Fantastic experience. So lovely to be above the clouds on a winter's day. Challenging biking but still fun and fine walking the tricky bits. Slate Hut felt more like a motel than a hut. Would absolutely recommend this trip for all ages and abilities with a medium fitness level," one Google reviewer wrote of hundreds who spoke of the hut being so nice.

7. Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, located 5 km from the centre of Blenheim, is a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft. Before you skip past this paragraph, this place is not just for enthusiasts.

The centre tells the story of aviation during two World Wars, the time in which the most intense period of aviation development took place.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is run by a charitable trust; most of the aircraft and memorabilia are loaned from private individuals. As well as aircraft, there are the smaller items; letters, logbooks, clothing, photographs that help convey the human stories and give the machines their relevance to history.

'A brilliant day out': Eight experiences recommended by other Kiwis to add to your summer
Photo credit: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

This is an experience where you know you'll be in for a treat because those running it do it out of love, and want to share their passion with you.

"Very fascinating aviation museum with an extensive collection of war memorabilia and artefacts," one reviewer stated online. 

"The planes and their settings left me awestruck. Would recommend going to both exhibits. The Stalingrad experience was intense and may not be suitable for people who are sensitive to loud sounds, and/or being in the dark, however it does warn you of that before you go in." 

8. Real Journeys Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Experience a mysterious underground world with a guided cave tour past the rushing water of an underground stream before drifting in silent darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of hundreds of glowworms.

Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau on one of the operators' purpose-built scenic cruise vessels.

On the tour of the caves, friendly guides will point out the many highlights and share their fascinating knowledge of the caves and their history.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves tour.
Te Anau Glowworm Caves tour. Photo credit: Real Journeys Te Anau Glowworm Caves

By geological standards, the caves are very young, at 'just' 12,000 years old. They are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall.

Deep inside the caves, beyond the roar of the water, you will be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by hundreds of glowworms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.

One reviewer pointed out just how upbeat and friendly the tour guides were throughout the experience. 

"Worth every penny. The tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly. Really easy to chat to and they are willing to answer all those silly questions with a smile. A great attitude and awesome service. Difficult times and you guys are still all up beat, LOVE IT."

This article was created for 100% Pure New Zealand.

For more summer travel inspiration, visit 100% Pure New Zealand.

When travelling, follow the COVID-19 traffic lights map to check restrictions in the area and what you need to do under each traffic light setting. The Auckland/Port Waikato boundary remains in place until 15 December.