The time has come again to pack the rain jackets, the picnics, a few beers and the dog into the ute, and head to a classic spot somewhere in New Zealand for Her Majesty’s birthday. It’s what she would have wanted.
If you’re a bit stuck for ideas on things to do on Queen’s Birthday weekend, we thought we’d share our top five favourite trips for a long weekend.
1 – Lake Clearwater
If you’re someone who loves open-raw landscapes, snow tipped mountains, glistening lakes, and movie sets – this is for you.
Lake Clearwater sits at the base of the famous Lord of the Rings location, Edoras (more traditionally known as Mount Sunday).
The area provides more to do than meets the eye. For example, windsurfers frequent this spot for some of the best surfing in the South Island. Those keen on off-roading will enjoy the surrounding farm lands. There are fantastic biking tracks that circle the lake (great for any fitness and discipline). You will also get to choose over a dozen day trips ranging from easy going to full mountain climbs.
Lake Clearwater also has a great self-contained camp site. Simply turn up, chuck in $15 for a couple’s unpowered spot in the metal box, and find yourself a view to pitch the tent – right onto the waterfront.
After you’ve pitched up, take a seat on one of the benches and keep an eye out for the Great crested grebe.
This is a beautifully majestic bird, distinguished by its sharp black bill, slender neck and bright chestnut double crest. They are from an ancient order of diving water birds found on every continent in the world. They are rarely seen on land and make excellent underwater hunters.
NOTE: Due to the recent Canterbury Floods, Lake Clearwater may be currently inaccessible. Please refer to the Civil Defence website for more information and avoid any risky trips.
2 – Godley Head & Tour of Christchurch
Another great one for the family or those who have limited time is to head up the Banks Peninsula of Christchurch City after a tour around the city, learning about how the city has changed and grown out of the rubble of it’s shaky past.
A few weeks back, Bushman Tours went live on Reddit to take users from all over the world up Godley Head with us. Over five thousand people tuned in to learn about the region and the geology of this peninsula; it was a wake up call to how cool this spot is.
Our Bushman Jill provides the best of urban and natural worlds in her day trip providing transport and a great time to learn about the best eateries, developments and how Christchurch bounced back from a natural disaster. It’s rounded off with a walk around Godley that provides a chance to see the city, the Pacific Ocean and abandoned World War 2 battlements.
Easy going for any discipline but won’t overwhelm your whole weekend’s plans.
3 – Arthur’s Pass Village
What we love about this spot is that you have literally hundreds of different routes you can choose from. We typically book some easy-going accommodation as a base, then complete multiple day trips throughout the Pass.
(Did you know Bushman Tours can provide a full day’s transportation if you’d like to do something similar? Just reach out here).
Arthur’s Pass is a cute, well equipped settlement deep in the valleys of the South Island. It’s village sits either side of state highway 73 which saw plenty of traffic prior to the pandemic. Now, things are a little quieter which in our opinion, is an opportunity for you!
In this village, you can get a good pub meal, there is their local shop with basic snacks and meals, even an off-licence. The Alpine train runs through here on occasion (if you don’t fancy driving), and there are a variety of motels, hotels and lodges.
But the walks and wildlife, that’s what you’d come here for!
Arthur’s Pass has so many options to choose from for all skill levels. You could start with something challenging but super rewarding like Bealey Spur. Or, Casey and Bindser Saddle of something longer and epic.
Check out some of our Arthur’s Pass tours and recommendations here.
4 – Tongariro Crossing
For those who will be in the North Island looking for things to do on Queen’s Birthday weekend, why not try a Great Walk? With borders still quiet, there may never be a better time to enjoy the tranquility of such a place, mostly to yourself.
It goes without saying, any Great Walk is a day well spent. However, there is something alien about the Tongariro Crossing. The vast, desert landscapes and stunning mountain ranges provide a full day of out of this world views.
There are plenty of options available to you on how you can run the day. For example, we recommend taking the pressure off and booking a shuttle from your closest accommodation. A day trip means less gear/weight and more time to enjoy the views.
Making the effort to head up the Emerald Lakes is a must do in Aotearoa, New Zealand. In times passed, the crowds and lines of people have said to ruin the experience. We’re hopeful this will change in the future, but in these times, you’ll likely be one of only a few.
You can learn more about the Great Walks we have in NZ here.
Remember – you’ll be heading out in the colder months, this is an exposed place with plenty of cold wind and rain, make sure you prepare. You can head to the Mountain Safety Council to learn more on how to prepare.
5 – Your own town/city
It’s pretty crazy how many people have decided to share some love for their own backyard and community during covid. And so they should.
Sometimes, being a tourist in your own town is one of the most enjoyable experiences. In the fall, our team headed out for a day at the Christchurch museum, the art gallery, a trip on the tram and then dinner at the top of the gondola of the Port Hills.
The best thing about exploring locally – other than spending local – is falling back in love with where you live and finding little gems you never knew you had here.
Jump on websites that promote local events and new venues opening, then list out a full day of exploring. You live here for a reason, right?
There are many more things to do on Queen’s Birthday weekend. Regardless of what you get up to, we hope it’s a good one. And remember, spending local keeps our local economies and small businesses running!