Here’s a local’s secret, that’s not-so-secret. Jump in the car and head past Āpiti and Rangiwahia to Ruahine Dress Circle Scenic Reserve for a soak in the sun. You’ll have to head down a narrrow gravel road to reach this spot, but it’s well worth the drive.
A stunning swimming hole lies at the base of the towering sandstone cliffs – and there’s a series of waterfalls nearby too. Earning its name due to its resemblance to an opera house dress circle, you’ll soon be singing its praises too after a refreshing swim.
Wander upstream and gaze at the remarkable grey papa rock formations. Decades of rain have created natural holes in the cliffs that almost look like Swiss cheese. Now that’s given us an idea…. perhaps pack a post-swim picnic to enjoy on the riverbank...
An untouched gem of nature just 40 minutes’ drive from Palmy or Feilding, Tōtara Reserve has been a favourite summer day trip for generations. Cool off in the river, sunbathe on the shores, and repeat.
Once you’ve had a satisfying soak, stroll through a network of nature trails, play on the adventure playground, and cook some tasty kai on the barbecues. If one day’s not enough, book a campsite and do it all again the next day – eagle-eyed campers may even spot glowworms glistening at night.
Love the water but don’t love the crowds? Another superb spot in the Pohangina Valley, Raumai Reserve‘s giant greywacke cliffs offer a unique backdrop for a secluded swim. Catch some shade beneath the lush trees and shrubs, perhaps with a good book in hand and a cold drink in the other.
Image credit: @amandahodge_itsthelittlethings
On the shores of Manawatū River, the large grassy plain of Woodville Ferry Reserve is a slice of green paradise. Take a ball or a frisbee and get your sweat on, before jumping into the river to cool down. Head past Ashhurst to find this location – you can even bring a tent and camp overnight under canvas. Savvy wildlife spotters might even catch some native birds wandering amongst the nearby wetlands.
The Sledge Track is a well-known hiking hotspot – but the pristine waters of the stream’s swimming hole are also ideal for a summer’s dip! Just a short drive from Palmy, you could spend hours on the track, but we’re a fan of walking 15 minutes from the carpark to Kahuterawa Stream and diving right on in.
As well as packing walking shoes and some snacks, be sure to keep the swimsuits handy – this spot is loved by locals of all ages. Get off grid, tune into the chorus of native birdlife and soak up the serenity.
A summer favourite for generations of Palmy tamariki – this Art Deco-style historic pool was gifted to the city in the 1930’s and has been delighting young paddlers ever since. An under-the-sea themed mural brightens up the Victoria Esplanade pool – see if your kids can splash like their favourite marine creature!
Open from October to April each year, bring your chilly bin to make the most of the free BBQ facilities and picnic tables. Plus, a sweet treat from Café Esplanade is never too far away – did someone say ice cream sundaes?
As the temperature heats up, so does the action at Memorial Park’s Splashpad! Get set to get drenched with the giant supersoaker bucket (the only free one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere) – or opt for a dip in the paddling pool. There’ll be shrieks of joy as water splashes in all directions, keeping the young ones cool and very amused. With separate spots for toddlers and older children, everyone will have a ball.
Slip, slop, slap and scoot on down to our favourite West Coast beach – Himatangi never ceases to please. Boogie board in the waves, build a sandcastle and even cast a line. Our top tip? Grab a scoop or three of hot chips from the Beach Store for a post-swim treat, as you watch the sun go down on a day well spent.
Make sure to check our Guide to Staying Safe before getting into the water.