There’s never not a good time to be in New Zealand. No matter what the time of year, in what part of the country you’re in, there’s always stuff to do. Yet, summer is the undisputed king of the seasons, especially on the South Island, which is not only New Zealand’s biggest, it’s also its most picturesque in terms of the scope of its natural, rugged splendour. It’s absolutely stunning, no kidding! Anybody who has been there for themselves will tell you that.

It’s also chock full of incredible summertime activities for you and I to enjoy! Have you been kayaking in the Abel Tasman, cruising on the glassy blue waters of Milford Sound or seen the humpbacks breach from the shoreline or deck of a boat at Kaikoura? No? Gee, we haven’t even touched on Queenstown or Christchurch yet.

Bring your sunscreen, a broad brimmed hat and a certain sense of ‘devil-maycare’ attitude to somewhat dangerous adventure and let us inform.


South Island tramping 

The South Island of New Zealand is nothing if not stunning. Some of the scenery; the mountains, fjords, valleys and craggy rock outcrops seriously need to be seen to be believed. The best way to see them is through the time honoured Kiwi tradition of ‘tramping’ (hiking, if you prefer). All you really need is a sturdy pair of walking shoes, a water bottle and, depending on how long you plan to go bush for, a tent.

Tramping is the perfect way to explore the beauty of the South Island because you can do it at your own pace and in your own time. Prepare to be hypnotized by the places you go and the things you see. We never thought before we set out that it would be possible to fall completely in love with a mountain (oh, Mt Cook, you still haunt our dreams!) but hey, people never thought that the Earth was round and look how stupid that turned out to be. RP


Kayaking the Abel Tasman 

Want to explore the beauty of a protected marine reserve? Wilsons Abel Tasman Sea Kayaking tours can help. These guys offer a range of packages, from three hours to five days. You have the freedom to create custom itineraries, add walking tours and overnight stays by the water. The Wilson family is one of few to hold a Tonga Island Marine Mammal Watching Permit, so get ready to see some local animals! The team at Wilson’s Kayaking in the region are also so committed to preservation of the environment that they were the first to be awarded the Qualmark Enviro Gold. To receive this they had to ensure the company demonstrated effectiveness in energy efficiency, waste management and water conservation, also the inclusion of social and environmental impacts on local communities. New Zealand is beautiful and the good people at Wilson’ Kayaking are keeping it that way.

Cost from $129


Ziptrek Eco-Tours, Queenstown 

Suspended high above the ancient forests and jagged mountain peaks, a Ziptrek eco-tour is simply a must-do activity when visiting New Zealand’s beautiful South Island. The company run two separate tours; the four-line Moan and the longer, six-line Kea, Ziptrek offer you a rope-course experience like no other. The Kea is a three-hour long, high velocity adventure that includes a stunning new 20-minute guided trek extension of the local Tiki Trail, an ancient Beech forest littered with platforms. The Moa is more of a high octane series of death-defying flying fox runs through some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. Ziptrek tours are all 100 per cent eco-friendly and the company takes great pride in keeping the pristine natural environment of Queenstown unharmed by any of its operational activity.

Cost from $79

Visit historical Arrowtown 

This much visited historic site is located a short 20 minute drive from New Zealand’s adrenalin sport capital, Queenstown in the South Island. Built on the banks of the Arrow River, Arrowtown started its life as a regional centre for gold mining in the 1860s. The famously beautiful, treelined avenues that typify the rustic aesthetic of the old town were first planted in the 1870s after the gold rush passed and a more permanent town was established. The town became a popular tourist destination in the 1950s and has continued in that vein up until the modern day mostly because it still boasts loads of historic buildings, monuments and features from the 19th century as well as a lovely old museum. Also worth a visit if you’re in the region is the old Chinese mining settlement, which features a number of preserved and refurbished miners’ huts.


Mountain biking Milford Sound 

The beautiful, deep blue glacial waters of the Milford Sound are perhaps best known as a place of quiet contemplation and of relaxed sightseeing. However, like just about everywhere else in New Zealand, if you want to take it up a notch and inject a little excitement and adrenaline into the place, you can definitely find ways of doing that. Does mountain biking work for everyone? There are plenty ways to skin this particular cat in this part of the world; you can do it gently, for example with a nice bike tour around some of the flatter parts. Just you and yours, cycling gently around one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. You can, if you’re keen also take the perpendicular route instead and hurtle down a couple of mountain trails. Ah yes, the wind in your helmet, tree branches whipping at your watering eyes and only the singing of the beautiful, local birds will drown out your terrified screams. Seriously it’s incredibly good fun!


Skydive South Island 

This is the sky diving capital of New Zealand. It’s definitely a spot that you will ‘fall for’ – get it? Fall for, because, you know, you’ll be jumping out of a plane… Yeah, anyway, if you’re going to Lake Taupo (be it in winter or summer) you’re going to be skydiving. Who in their right mind would want to jump out of a plane at 12,000 feet? You may well be asking this question to yourself. Well, the answer may well surprise you. A lot of people actually and not all of them have long, flaxen hair, tattoos and a propensity for calling everyone they meet ‘dude’. It’s an incredible odd sensation, skydiving – the nervous waiting as the plane ascends, the opening of the door and the rushing of the wind in your ears then the moment before the plunge… Tranquillity after. Take the plunge with the 200km/hour jump is Lake Wanaka. You’ll receive uninterrupted views of Wanaka’s turquoise waterways, lakes and the highest mountains in the country. You won’t regret it, we promise! RP


Big night out Queenstown 

So you’ve just arrived in Queenstown and you want to get a taste of the nightlife, but you have no clue where to start. Don’t fret, as Queenstown hosts the Big Night Out pub crawl where you’ll no doubt discover your favourite drinking destinations. Five is the magic number for the Big Night Out. Five different bars, five free drinks, five nights a week for NZ$25. Any night from Tuesday to Saturday you’ll be immersed in a huge pub crawl that, along with the drinks, also has free food and a bunch of prizes (including bungee jumps) up for grabs. Unfortunately a pub crawl is likely to result in a few memory lapses, but Big Night Out has you covered with photographers in charge of documenting every awesome and embarrassing act you might get up to on the night. Let Big Night Out do the ice breaking for you, make some new friends and have a great night out. Worst case scenario is you end up drinking excessive amounts and embarrass yourself in front of a group of strangers…but hey, shit happens, right? RP

Jet boating, Christchurch 

The original and still the best, Jet Thrills Christchurch offer one of the Cathedral City’s best adrenaline activities that’ll definitely put you in a spin. The Waimakariri River is a bare hour or so drive or so from the Christchurch CBD and, provided you don’t have a heavy meal on board, it’s the best way to experience the braided system of shallow, twisting streams. The specially designed jet boats have huge motors (they get a proper fang on when the drivers open up the throttle) and very shallow drafts which allow them to do seriously tight turns and dips in water so shallow you would barely wet your ankles if you were standing in it. Jet Thrills run 30-minute, or hour long tours and, while they can get a wee bit pricey, we guarantee that you won’t regret it.

Cost from $85


Cruising Milford Sound 

One of the most breathtakingly spots to be found anywhere in New Zealand (which is saying a lot) Milford Sound has to be seen to be believed. Cascading waterfalls, sheer rocky outcrops, snow capped peaks and glassy, glacial water bring thousands of visitors to this beautiful part of the world ever year and while it’s stunning in summer.

Take a glass roofed bus tour of the winding roads, or get out onto the sound itself on a ferry and explore the sound from Milford to Sandfly point.

Cascading waterfalls, sheer rocky outcrops, snow capped peaks and glassy, glacial water bring thousands of visitors to this beautiful part of the world ever year and while it’s stunning in summer.

There’s also a purpose built underwater viewing area where you can marvel at the exquisite crops of black coral and the myriad underwater species that call this place home.

In a country known for its beautiful scenery, Milford Sound is definitely one of the most picture perfect places.

Go Orange! Conduct wonderful cruises of both the Milford and Doubtful Sounds, which will get you up close to the scenery in a spacious vessel complete with an informative running commentary.

Cost from $225


Shotover Canyon Swing 

One experience that absolutely cannot be missed on a visit to Queenstown is the Shotover Canyon Swing. If you only have the funds to do one extreme sport (and you must do AT LEAST one), this is the one that trumps the rest.

You might be thinking that the Canyon Swing would be something like a bungy jump, and if you have the stones to do one of those then surely the Canyon Swing would be a breeze. Wrong. Jump off a bridge with a bungee cord attached to your legs and you might fall far, but not long into your fall the elastic will begin to slow you down.

The Shotover Canyon Swing has no elastic, so you experience true free fall for 60m followed by a 200m arc across the canyon. Exhilarating.

Remember that trust game, where you fall backwards and the person behind will catch you? It’s an exercise in learning to embrace vulnerability and ignore your instinctual urge to catch yourself. Now imagine playing that game over a 60m drop and you already have an idea of what the real experience of the Shotover Canyon Swing is.

Unlucky for you, the jumpmaster’s, who will lead you to the edge of a platform and help you jump off in absolute safety, love to take advantage of your vulnerable position.

Expect to spend the last moments before your jump with your heart in your mouth and two guys laughing.

There’s a huge variety of ways to jump off the platform, over 70 to be more exact, each one requiring a different level of cojones. Backwards, forwards, front-flip, back-flip or even the legendary ‘Indian Rope Trick’.

This last one will hopefully be the closest you ever come to dangling off an extremely high place, relying on your own strength to keep you from falling. Major muscles required, and expect the jumpmaster’s to play some mean tricks on you while you’re hanging on. RP

Cost from $199


Canyoning, Lake Wanaka 

Stop fiddling with your carabiner! If there is a problem, your untrained fingers will only make the problem worse. Suck it up, mate, cause you’re about to descend into the watery abyss. Canyoning in Lake Wanaka is basically the South Island’s answer to the Waitomo Caves up north and, while you don’t get as many glowworms you’ll certainly get an adventure like no other out of it. You and your team will contend with icy cold, powerful waterfalls and gape in awe at beautiful, subterranean pools and droplets of effervescent green moss hanging from low rocky ceilings. It’s haunting and beautiful and kind of scary all at the same time.

Cost from $220


Whale watching, Kaikoura 

I love whales; they’re possibly my favourite animal on the planet. They’re so majestic in the way they glide so effortlessly through the water despite their massive bulk. I particularly love humpback whales, with their enchanting songs and impressive breaching feats.

Thankfully the Cook Strait in New Zealand is one of the best spots in the world to see them, particularly in winter. If it’s sperm whales you’re after, head on down to the famously picturesque town of Kaikoura, on the South Island’s eastern coast. Kaikoura has some of the best and most developed sperm whale watching facilities to be found anywhere on Earth.

Sperm whales are the biggest of the toothed whales and are also the largest predators on the planet. They are so often rarely seen by human eyes, as they spend so much of their time deep in the depths of some of the world’s deepest, coldest oceans hunting for squid but Kaikoura is one of the only places anywhere where they can be seen year round, so close to land.

Considering how rare it is for humans to see these amazing leviathans going about their business in their natural habitat, Kaikoura is an absolute must for anyone, whether you’re a whale watching enthusiast or a first timer.

If you’re into slightly furrier sea creatures then Kaikoura won’t disappoint either. Huge colonies of seals can also seen frolicking on the rocky outcrops around the idyllic seaside town in winter, which makes for a wonderful, if somewhat noisy, spectacle. They’re pretty cute though, the seals.

Cost from $130.50