Bright Eyes Summer Guide: Twenty Holiday Must-Do’s

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Don’t worry everyone, summer is coming it’s just going to be a little late (six weeks late to be precise, or at least that’s what the NZ Herald thinks). It’s not all doom and gloom though, I’ve compiled a list of 20 summer activities to get you in the holiday mood. Think of it as your go-to guide to an authentic Kiwi summer experience; a throwback to the golden days when every great adventure began with a $1 mix. Cheap as chips, here’s to the good old days and doing it all over again…

1. Be mindful

There’s a reason summers felt endless as a child, and I’m not referring to the fact that you had three months holiday before school went back. Take away all those modern day distractions (work, stress, technology – the list is endless) and it’s just you, your imagination and a wild adventure. It’s only now I can recognise this childhood bliss as being mindful because that’s exactly what you are as a kid – truly present in the moment and connected to the activity at hand. You’re not worried about what happened before or what’s going to happen after, instead you’re happy just being and doing that time becomes irrelevant and boredom becomes impossible. Reconnect with the magic of summer and regain that childlike peace of mind. Here’s a start…

2. Have a social media free week

Ban yourself from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever other social media frenemies suck your energy and just enjoy your free-time with the mindfulness of a curious kid. You’ll be amazed at how much longer the days become without your computer or phone in hand, and I’m talking from experience. I recently deleted Instagram for a week and I even can’t begin to tell you how liberating it was. Do you really need to know everything your friends ate that day or what that blogger wore or just how much fun those people had at that event you couldn’t go to? It’s all a distraction anyway and you’re missing the good stuff. Instead of Instagramming that moment at the beach why not just sit back and actually enjoy being there. Believe me, the memories that stick are the ones you are present for. Think about it.

3. Read a book

How many of you put “read more” on your new years resolutions? I’m betting a lot of you. I’m also betting a lot of you got too distracted on Instagram to follow through with that one. I may be stating the obvious but summer holidays are made for reading. Play catch up and dive into that book list you’ve been accumulating over the years (some of my favourites include Shantaram, The Glass Castle, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Scar Tissue and Just Kids). Or why not tick one of the great classics off your list with a book like To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Lolita or The Catcher in the Rye. You’re on holiday, you’ve got time. No excuses (especially since you deleted your Facebook app).


4. Go on a bike ride

Nothing spells summer like a bike ride on a sunny day. Spend a carefree Sunday afternoon bike riding around Tamaki Drive and let the stress of the week blow away with the wind. If you don’t own one – hire one, or better yet borrow one from a friend. You may even have one lurking around the garage at your parent’s house that’s just waiting for some TLC. Show the bike lanes some love and explore the city on two wheels rather than four. Plus it counts as exercise too and beats the gym any day. Ride on!

5. Dust off your roller skates

While you’re digging your bike out of your folks’ garage make sure you look out for your old skates too; they’re hiding there under your boogie board and beside your Razor scooter. LOL. No but seriously, roller skates are all kinds of 90s cool and they should make a compulsory comeback every summer. Gotta love some fun fitness! For old time’s sake…

6. Have “fush and chups” on the beach

The quintessential Kiwi dinner. Fish and chips on the beach is a right of passage for any New Zealand summer. It’s our national dish after all (in my books) and tastes even better wrapped in yesterday’s news with the sand at your feet. Grub in hands, watch the sun set and you’ll understand why we just got voted the world’s best country in the Telegraph Travel Awards.

7. Have a chocolate thickshake at a small town dairy

Forget Coca Cola, the drink of summer for me will always be a chocolate thickshake. You know the kind I’m talking about – so thick it barely makes it up the straw; made with that nostalgic chocolate milkshake flavouring which is probably made with a bunch of stuff you’d care not to know about; served icey cold in a supersized cup which reads ‘The Longest Drink In Town’ and has what looks like your old mate Harold the giraffe from the Life Education truck on the side of it. Yeah those are good. And they’re even better from the local dairy at a small beach town in the middle of nowhere. Now that’s the taste of summer. Yum!

8. Play backyard sport

Cricket, rugby, some game you invented that involves a ball and a strange set of rules… Grab your family, friends and neighbours and kick it old school in the backyard with game of sport and some healthy competition.

9. Learn to surf

Learning to surf is like learning to ride a bike. Just kidding, it’s much harder (I’ve tried) and probably why this one is still sitting around unticked on most people’s bucket lists. Regardless, it’s a summer activity for the water baby in you and a must-do if you’ve never tried. If you don’t want to get lessons I’m sure one of your surfer mates will be more than happy to teach you the basics. Plus you’ll sound ten times cooler when you head back to the office in the new year and can count “rode a wave” on your list of achievements. Dude.

10. Girls, take control of the BBQ

When did it become a rule that guys have to cook the meat and girls have to make the salad? If you don’t know how to work the Weber then it’s high time you learned. But leave the dishes for the boys – they need the practice.

11. Write a letter

Seen as though you’ve stopped checking your emails for the week, why not write a letter to your friend instead. It’s much more personal and makes for a nice little surprise when it arrives in the mail. Or better yet, write a love letter. Something to get tucked away and kept forever. A moment in time immortalised in ink. Ooh la la!

beach pack

12. Go to a summer music festival

No summer is complete without attending at least one music festival. Don’t freak out, it doesn’t have to be all EDM crazy, it could be chilled like Wanderlust in Taupo with some laid back tunes after a relaxing day of yoga. My picks for the summer months are Rhythm and Vines, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Splore and, of, course, the aforementioned Wanderlust Festival (I’m already counting down the days… 44 to be exact).

13. Have a themed picnic

Instead of your typical ‘bring a plate’ picnic, try having a culturally themed spread for your outdoor excursion. I’m dreaming of a Mexican fiesta with oodles of homemade guacamole. (Insert word for drool in Spanish). Olé!

14. Go for a beach run

You know the term ‘beach bum’? Yeah well it doesn’t mean lazing about on the beach in my books. Get you A into G and go for a soft sand run. It beats pounding the pavement plus it’s a low impact full body workout that will tighten up that tush and burn more calories than its street-side counterpart. Early morning or early evening are the best times to go, leaving you all day to soak up the sun (with sunscreen, of course). Jump in the ocean after your run and count yourself lucky for being exactly where you are at that perfect moment.

Whiritoa, March 2013.

Whiritoa, March 2013.

15. Have a Tip Top ice cream

… And I’m not talking about the ones in the packets. Oh no, I’m talking about the nostalgic scoop ice-creams in the overly orange wafer cones from your old school dairy. Think the classics like orange chocolate chip, goody goody gum drops, cookies and cream and gold rush. Now if that doesn’t remind you of a carefree, youthful, happy summer then I don’t know what will!

16. Road Trip

Here’s the obvious. The classic road trip is Kiwi summer heritage at its best. Who cares about the destination, this one’s all about the ride. Pack some snacks, put together an killer playlist (thanks Spotify), grab your friends and hit the road. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth and chances are you’ve barely even seen a quarter of it. Or rather than just getting from A to B, take it a step further by hiring a camper van and making the road trip your holiday. But don’t forget to buckle up…

17. Go to an open air cinema

The closest thing you’ll get to a drive in movie, Silo Cinema is at the top of my weekend to-do list. This Friday they’re showing Home Alone 2 at 9pm and I’m praying to the weather Gods for a dry, humid evening because this film’s got feel good vibes Christmas written all over it. If you’re a kid of the 90s then you know what I mean. Besides, who wants to watch a movie on the couch when you can breathe in the fresh air and sink into a beanbag after trawling the Night Markets for some last minute stocking fillers.

18. Have a bonfire on the beach

When the night falls and the temperature drops, grab those marshmallows and hit the beach for a good old fashioned s’mores session. Surrounded by good friends, a summer bonfire makes for a cosy way to enjoy the beach when the sun’s gone down. Let it burn…

19. Have an outdoor shower

Get back to basics with an outdoor shower. A beautiful reminder you’re not in the city and a chance to reconnect with nature. Invigorating and refreshing, it’s almost therapeutic.

20. Go skinny dipping

Well, why the hell not?

Here’s to an epic summer, friends. The best one yet…

gisborne flying nun

Flying Nun backpackers, Gisborne, December 2008.

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