While you shouldn’t confuse New Zealand with many other tropical south pacific islands, you can expect average temperatures of between 20 – 30ºC in summer time. There’s a reason why so many of us flock to the beach over the Christmas/ New Year’s break. Don’t be fooled though, lying in the sun can be a dangerous hobby. That’s why no New Zealand beach bag is complete without a bottle of SPF 30 sunscreen. Even on cloudy days, it’s important to slip on some covered clothes, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on some sunglasses. Leave your tanning oils at home. Chris de Freitas, associate professor of geography and environmental science at Auckland University, warns that “UV intensities here can be 15 to 40 per cent higher than that for equivalent locations in the Northern Hemisphere. You can effectively double this UV loading if you are in highly reflective surroundings, such as on a white-sand beach or on the water in an open boat.” What does it all mean? Sunburn. Let the only lobster you have this summer be on your plate, stay sun safe.
For more information, check out the sunsmart website.
Nothing says kiwi like a summer BBQ but nothing can ruin your fun in the sun like warm beer… or food poisoning. Both can be avoided by exercising good food safety over the summer holidays. BBQs are a beautiful science that create a deep smoky flavour, the downside is that they are not as consistent as a conventional oven. Follow the rule of 4 C’s and clean the area and utensils well, cook food thoroughly (keeping cooked food away from uncooked), cover it well to keep it clear of splatters and bugs and chill it as soon as possible. A pro tip to save time; precook sausages, meat patties and chicken before BBQing so you can just finish the job on the grill.
For more information and 10 Tips for BBQ safety, see the food safety website here.
It’s not just your physical health you should look after this summer. Roadblocks and traffic jams can be infuriating and the long distance between destinations can be taxing. If you have a current driver’s license, you can drive on NZ roads for up to 12 months (see conditions here) but be prepared for things to take a bit longer than they would back home. New Zealand roads are narrow, winding, sometimes unsealed, often steep and we don’t have a lot of motorways. You can calculate your travel distance using the free AA distance calculator here. Be generous with your travel time and stop to smell the Pōhutukawa, New Zealand is well known for its beautiful scenery after all.
For more information about safe driving in New Zealand, see the New Zealand Transport Agency’s guide.
Much of New Zealand shuts down or goes onto reduced hours between Christmas and early in the new year. In fact, stores are required by New Zealand law to be closed on Christmas day. This means a lot of kiwis are out and about seeking the sun. New Zealand has an abundance of holiday options from the humble camping ground, huts in the mountains or your standard hotels and motels. Air BnB is an increasingly popular option. Major events can put pressure on certain regions (see a list of events here) and because of the high demand over the festive period, accommodation starts to dry up from early November. Careful though, popular hotspots like the Milford Track can fill up to a year in advance! To avoid headaches, book your accommodation as early as possible.
When you get to the beach with your SPF and your BBQ, there are a few final things to stay safe this summer. The beach is a great spot to be in the summer months so we do our best to take care of each other when we are in and around the water. Surf Lifesavers play an important role in water safety and many popular beaches will have a crew on hand. Because of the nature of the New Zealand coast line, rip currents are a common and dangerous occurrence. At peak times, surf lifesavers put up yellow and red flags to indicate safe places to swim at the beach. Swim between the flags to make sure that you are visible in case of emergency.
Last but not least, a day at the beach would not be complete without understanding proper beach etiquette. Swimsuits (or bathers) are commonly referred to in New Zealand as Togs. Underpants or underwear are often called undies. It’s important to remember that togs away from the water are just undies. Watch this classic kiwi ad to explain the critical difference between togs and undies.