Cheap date ideas in the great outdoors

Cheap date ideas in the great outdoors

Outdoor dates on a budgetWith the weather warming up at last, now is the ideal time to explore the outdoors without spending a fortune. Try these cool date ideas to maximise your fun without maxing out your budget.

  1. Stargazing

There’s nothing more romantic than gazing at the stars – and nowhere better to do it than New Zealand. Our skies are the darkest in the world, which means the heavens appear closer to us.

Impress your date with your knowledge of the whereabouts of Alpha Crucis by checking out Te Ara’s guide to the Southern Cross, or by downloading a stargazing app (just make sure it’s not only for the Northern Hemisphere).

  1. Swingball

Remember when you used to spend hours batting away at a ball on a string, in those balmy childhood days before you discovered sex?

Swingball is back, and it’s much more fun than you remember. It’s a game that rewards skill as well as strength, and is a great warm-up for the summer tennis season. Take it to the beach, the campsite, the garden or a party – the beauty of swingball is that you can play it anywhere. Just make sure you don’t kill the mood by serving your date a tennis ball in the face.

  1. Night cycling

Wheel your bike out of the garage at dusk and you’ll instantly feel like a kid again – sneaking over to a friend’s house when you’re supposed to be doing your homework, or heading off to the dairy to buy a forbidden bumper bag of jet planes before dinner.

An evening cycle ride with a date is even more of an adventure. Glide through parks and neighbourhoods that look completely different at night than they do in the daytime, and freewheel through the hidden areas of your city that you’ve never before had time to explore. You’ll get closer to nature, and closer to each other.

Night riding has exploded on the mountain biking scene in recent years. If you and your date love mountain biking, check out your local club or bike park to see if they offer night rides. Full moon riding is especially popular.

Whether you’re riding on roads or through trails, don’t forget your bike lights and sexy fluro vest.

  1. Bocce

Still relatively unusual in New Zealand, bocce may just be the perfect Kiwi beach sport. Similar to but cooler than English lawn bowls or French petanque, bocce involves hurling a selection of coloured balls at a target.

It’s less arduous than flinging a frisbee around the sand dunes, and can be played by singles, couples or teams. Best of all, there’s little risk of being humiliated in front of your date – even non-sporty newbies with zero hand-eye coordination can clock up surprisingly high scores.

  1. Find a free hot pool

What’s the only thing better than a hot pool? Obviously, a free hot pool.

In Taupo, try Otumukeke Stream in Taupo Spa Park, near Taupo Bungy, or the less well-known Lake Terrace, opposite the Napier-Taupo Highway.  

In the Rotorua aea, try the popular Kerosene Creek, The Bridge at Waiotapu Stream (togs optional), or Tumoana Point Hot Springs, at the southern end of Lake Rotoiti.

Other spectacular spots for a free soak include Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel, Te Puia Springs near the Waitomo Caves, and the wondrous Kaitoke Hot Springs on Great Barrier Island.

If you’re too far away from a free pool, you might want to consider creating your own personal outdoor bath. Te Radar had a go in his Off the Radar TV series – check out his tips for turning an unwanted tub into a romantic outdoor spa for two.

  1. Revisit your school playground

For the ultimate retro date, take your partner to visit your primary school playground. Hang out – literally – on the flying fox, race each other up the climbing net, and be astonished by the smallness of the once-terrifying slide. Thrill each other with tales of your early talent at skipping, tag or bullrush.

Wait until night falls so there won’t be any kids around to laugh at your shameful lack of muscle tone on the monkey bars. And a word of warning: if you started the date with a couple of margaritas and a packet of pork scratchings at your local bar, give the roundabout a miss.


Photo from Taika Waititi’s Eagle vs. Shark