Seven ‘Kiwi as’ things to do on Waitangi weekend

It’s been a tough week for many New Zealanders and with clean-up efforts continuing in flood-ravaged areas and heavy rain warnings in place for parts of the country, many of us won’t have the Waitangi weekend we’ve been hoping for as a Pro.

While cleaning up and filing insurance claims is on the agenda for many Kiwis, you might find it helpful to at least take some time to celebrate National Day with one or more of our favorite national summer activities.

Some of the ‘Kiwi as’ activities below are not suitable this weekend if you are affected by the wild weather, while others can safely be done indoors. And if you’re lucky enough not to be affected, feel free to give it your all.

Put some pavlova away

Given that we kiwis claim to have invented this queen of desserts, it’s only right that we devour one on our national holiday. If only to add weight to the argument that this is a New Zealand and not an Australian dessert.

Make your own and garnish with your choice of summer fruit, or indulge in a premium restaurant version. Cibo, in Auckland’s Parnell, offers three different oversized versions: salted caramel, chocolate and peanut; burnt lemon and passion fruit; and pineapple nuggets, Valrhona chocolate and pineapple curd. A TripAdvisor reviewer described Cibo’s “giant pav” as a “tour de force” that “clarifies once and for all which nation dreamed up the pavlova first.”

Floriditas in Wellington offers a notoriously good brown sugar version, this time with slow-roasted strawberries and blackberry pudding, while Queenstown’s Public Kitchen and Bar is also on the winning side.

If the weather is bad, you can also stay inside and make a pavlova.

If the weather is bad, you can also stay inside and make a pavlova.

Get scared on a water slide

Squeezing your butt on a farm water slide is a rite of passage for many Kiwi kids, and it’s just as fun when you’re an adult.

If you’re in the mood for something fairly extreme, try the Conical Thrill slide at Hanmer Springs with its almost vertical drop. Or for all-day family fun, visit Cromwell’s Kiwi Water Park, which features an obstacle course, floating trampolines, a giant floating ram and a human catapult.

See more of our favorite waterslides around Aotearoa here, but be sure to check conditions before you head out.

Bumpy water slides are a rite of passage for Kiwi children.

David Walker/Stuff

Bumpy water slides are a rite of passage for Kiwi children.

Jump off a quay

Nothing screams Kiwi summer like a perfect Manu from a Kai.

If you are in an area affected by heavy rain, this is not the right time to attend. Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) says many swim sites in affected areas will be at high or very high risk of contamination during or after heavy rain. Here you can check if swimming is safe in places around Aotearoa.

If you’re lucky enough to be near calm, clear, swimmable waters this Waitangi weekend, the ocean is your oyster. When perfectly executed, the Manu (or Dive Bomb) is a thing of beauty. The key is to make a quick, straight descent and swing your legs up in time to make sure your butt is the first part of you to touch the water.

Wharf jumping has been a popular New Zealand summer activity for ages.

Braden Fastier/Stuff

Wharf jumping has been a popular New Zealand summer activity for ages.

scream for ice cream

Kiwis are considered some of the biggest ice cream eaters in the world, with each of us laying away an average of 23 liters a year.

Get a Hokey Pokey Cone from the dairy to keep like Kiwi, or indulge in some of the quality artisan versions available across our Fair Isles.

Our favorites include Duck Island in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, whose imaginative flavors include fairy bread, peanut butter cookie dough and black sticky rice; the plant-based frozen treats at Little Liberty Creamery in Inglewood; and the real fruit ice cream at Motueka’s Toad Hall.

Wilkies Pools in Taranaki has a natural water slide.

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Wilkies Pools in Taranaki has a natural water slide.

Swim at a secret local swimming hole

Make the most of the local knowledge and head to the secret swimming hole that visitors and influencers don’t know about.

As it’s secret there probably aren’t any facilities, but that’s all part of the charm (provided, of course, you don’t take a dip unless you’re comfortable in the water). This could be a secluded beach, a waterfall pool, or just a particularly swimmer-friendly stretch of lake or river, but again, be sure to check if it’s currently swimmable before heading out.

Our favorites include the Blue Pools in Mt Aspiring National Park, the Wilkies Pools in Taranaki and the Pelorous Bridge Scenic Reserve in Marlborough.

For a superior Kiwi experience, tube or bodyboard down Gisborne’s Rere Rockslide. Stuff travel journalist Brook Sabin described it as “the best free fun you can have in New Zealand”. Be careful though: Serious injuries and even fatalities have occurred there in the past, and the water pollution can sometimes make swimming unsafe. Check the levels here before your visit.

The dawn parade is a highlight of the Waitangi Festival in the Bay of Islands.

Jason Dorday/Stuff

The dawn parade is a highlight of the Waitangi Festival in the Bay of Islands.

Join in the Waitangi Day celebrations

Waitangi is pushing ahead with its free annual festival despite Northland’s wild weather earlier this week, having already put a ton of work into the four-day event.

Highlights include the dawn ceremony at Te Whare Rūnanga, the waka parade in front of the Te Tii Waitangi Marae, the kapa haka competitions and the delicious kai. You can also see performances by artists such as Don McGlashan and Paige, winner of the 2021 Best Māori Artist award.

If you’re in Wellington, visit Te Rā o Waitangi in Waitangi Park on February 6th from 12pm to 6pm: arrive early for the Hāngi and stay for the award-winning array of Māori performances, food trucks and stalls.

Many other events take place around the Motu, so do your best to be there.

Have a great supply of fish and chips

We Kiwis may not have invented this epicurean treat, we have mastered it. So much so that summer simply isn’t summer here without enjoying at least one fish and chip feast (order locally caught fish and kūmara chips for supremely New Zealand flavor).

Stuff journalists’ favorite spots for a feed include The Craypot in Jackson Bay on the west coast (also famous for its crawfish and whitebait and seafood chowder), Stoked in Whitianga, Kai Kart in Oban; Dulcie’s Takeaways and Porky’s in Hokitika, Fresko and Mt Vic Chippery in Wellington, Marsic Bros in Auckland and Wacko Burger Bar in Hamilton.

Visit the Ohiwa Oyster Farm in Ōhope and you may see the owner feeding offcuts to stingrays.

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