By DEBBIE TAN.
When the holidays hit, it’s time to relax and get away. Take a break from classes, homework and exams and heed the call of adventure. A trip could be just the thing to reward yourself and in NZ, we don’t have to travel far to find the best spots.
School holidays are the perfect time to go on adventures with friends, spreading good vibes and great road-trip tunes. Whether you’re ready for some fun in the sun or snowball fights, there are heaps of events and activities this school holiday season.
There is a lot to be said about exploring your own backyard, and New Zealand provides beautiful destinations and activities for us students that won’t break the bank. In Northland, you can swim and surf, and you can also go scuba diving and snorkelling in the Bay of Islands. There, you will find crystal clear waters, a scenic marine reserve and beautiful underwater landscapes.
The view from Cape Reinga, at the tip of the North Island, is spectacular. Or you can travel to the Gisborne lighthouse to be the first to see the sunrise. You can also explore the stunning mountain ranges, rivers and numerous beaches there.
In Auckland, among events like the nail-biting Fifa U-20 World Cup, there are awesome destinations including summits to explore and conquer, like Mt Eden, One Tree Hill and Mt Victoria.
Popular activities for students include relaxing on the beaches on Waiheke Island, or walking through volcanic Rangitoto Island or Motutapu Island, a pest-free sanctuary and a great spot to volunteer and help with ecological conservation. These islands offer serene nature and a glimpse of native species like the takahe, saddleback, and North Island brown kiwi.
Wellington is the capital of coffee, the capital of culture and the capital of cool. But did you know it’s also the capital of ComicCon? After you’ve ventured the hipster-cool Cuba Street and admired art at Te Papa Museum, you can head to the annual Comic Con festival, this year taking place from July 17 to 19. Not to be missed, it features international stars, events such as Zinefest, a horror house, a $5,000 Wellington-wide scavenger hunt, and the comedy event the Laughter Games. The festival includes the Armageddon expo too, so head over for a thrilling dose of pop culture, comics, gaming, art and comedy. Check it out here: www.comiccon.co.nz.
If you’re down South, check out Winterfest in Queenstown, which features skiing, snowboarding, and a Mardi Gras festival.
There are also plenty of opportunities to ski and snowboard in Tongariro National Park, which lies in the heart of the North Island. If you didn’t know, that park is one of New Zealand’s UNESCO World Heritage sites and is a great place to relax and appreciate the beauty of Kiwi nature.
Tongariro National Park features Mt Ruapehu, known for its large ski fields, Mt Tongariro, known for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and Mt Ngauruhoe, which was digitally altered to convey Mt Doom in The Lord of the Rings movies. The oldest national park in New Zealand is definitely worth a visit.
If you’re more about staying warm this winter rather than hitting the slopes, make the most of hot springs and a hot water beach this winter in Hamner Springs in the South Island, or Rotorua, Taupo and Coromandel in the North Island. Avoid the huge surge of tourists at the end of the year by visiting in winter. Soothe yourself, relax, and warm up in the springs.
If you’re a fan of chocolate, the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival in Dunedin is the perfect event. Where else could you witness giant Jaffas rolling down Baldwin Street? This should be a required school trip for all students. The festival offers chocolate-making classes too.
Star-gazing is fun. Even more amazing, is star-gazing in an world-renowned observatory with unrivalled views. The world’s biggest dark sky reserve is right here in NZ, in Lake Tekapo’s Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. This is astronomy at its finest. See the night sky at its crisp, clear and vibrant best.
Remember, your holiday starts in your own backyard. In New Zealand we’re lucky that we don’t have to travel far to find great destinations. Make it a day trip with friends or family or go further afield to discover a new area.
Here’s to a fun winter break. Here’s to relaxing and feeling refreshed to take on the rest of the year!
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