Every Monday morning, Geraldine from marketing waits expectantly for you to recount your thrilling weekend adventures. Hilly hikes, crazy climbs, snowy slopes: she’s impressed. But when summer hits, you find yourself repeating “I went to the beach… again!” Maybe it’s time to mix things up! Here are five outdoor activities that’ll keep you active (and cool) throughout summer:

1. Explore swimming holes

If you’re keen to escape the hustle and bustle, there’s nothing better than visiting an isolated swimming hole on a stinking hot day. These places have a certain charm that you just won’t find at a local pool bursting with budgie smugglers: wildlife, clear water, green as far as the eye can see. So much serenity!

And when it comes to finding these magical spots, the hard work’s been done for you! Check out AA Directions 10 favourite summer swimming holes for a variety of beautiful New Zealand swimming holes, lakes and rock pools.

2. Canyoning

After something a little more active? Why not take it up a notch with canyoning? Canyoning might sound simple – it’s just moving through a canyon – but it can involve hiking, swimming, abseiling, climbing, squeezing, and plunging. Talk about a sneaky full-body workout! Aside from its physical benefits, canyoning gives you access to incredible plants and animals that you won’t find anywhere else.

Of course, safety is SUPER important when you’re dealing with slippery rocks and big drops, so if you’re new to canyoning, make sure you go with a competent companion. One option is to take a guided trip with a reputable outdoor adventure company. They’re experienced, have all the necessary gear, and will teach you a whole lotta new skills.

3. Kayaking

Kayaking has got summer written all over it! You’ll find kayaks for hire at many national parks, and what starts as a fun day out can easily become a full-blown obsession. Kayaking can be as relaxing as gliding across a still lake or as strenuous as paddling through raging whitewater. As with canyoning, safety’s a top priority, so you’ll need to master the basics before you get too extreme. That’s not a problem, though, when practise can involve hanging out with friends and exploring secluded spots only accessible by kayak. And, if you ever work up too much of a sweat, you can always “accidentally” capsize!

4. Coastal hikes

New Zealand has a widespread network of beautiful coastline and walking tracks, providing incredible access to some unique natural wonders. For example, Auckland dwellers after a lovely walk not far from the city can visit the Waitakere Ranges. A cruisy 45 minute stroll, the Kitekite track is filled with waterfalls, pools and native plant life. Those looking for more of a challenge can tackle the Hillary Trail, a self-guided four day adventure through native forest and wild coastline. If you’re looking for some more trail inspiration, check out Tourism New Zealand’s ‘Discovering New Zealand’s Great Walks’, for a bunch more.

While we tend to think of hiking as an activity reserved for the cooler months, there are perks to getting out there during summer, not the least of which is the opportunity for a swim at the end. You’ll also get longer daylight hours, awesome cliff views, and refreshing sea breezes. Remember to take plenty of water and slip, slop, slap!

5. Open water swimming

This one is not for the faint-hearted! But if you’re up for the challenge, open water swimming provides an incredible opportunity to do some serious cardio, clear your head, and push yourself physically and mentally.

Open water swimming doesn’t require much fancy gear, and you can start with small lakes and calm inlets. If you’re the competitive type, you’ll find plenty of ocean swim events across New Zealand which will have you enjoying a sense of camaraderie and achievement!

So, next time someone asks you what you did on the weekend, what will you tell them?

Words by Amy O’Toole

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