Winter Wonderland: Exploring New Zealand In The Winter
Empty beaches, snow-capped mountains and snuggling up with a hot choccie; exploring New Zealand doesn’t have to be an adventure reserved for summer months.
Unlike most seasonal destinations, New Zealand doesn’t just shut down when the temperature drops. Nah, we’re just not like that here. We do adventure year-round.
There are so many things we love about winter and for us kiwis, a change up in season simply means adapting the kind of adventures we head out on. So you might be able to spend all summer with bare feet and Stubbies but hitting the natural hot springs and seeing the Southern Alps with a snow dusting, is best saved for the colder months.
And the best bit? Heaps of people still seem to think adventures in NZ are best in summer, meaning you’ll encounter way less tourists and less crowds en route. Shhh keep that one a secret though, we don’t want everyone to know just how epic it is travelling New Zealand in winter!
In this post, we’ll share six pretty rad activities which will have you frothing for New Zealand winter tours. Just be sure to pack your merino layers and she’ll be alright.
#1 Snow Sports, Queenstown
Ski or Snowboard in the adventure capital of New Zealand! Yeah this one is pretty obvious because, in winter, there’s actually snow. Hooray! If you love snow sports, there’s nothing quite like zooming down the fresh powder on a winter’s day in the South Island, before heading to Apres with your mates and kicking back with a few beers.
#2 Photograph The Southern Alps, South Island
If you’re into adventure photography, a winter South Island tour is sure to give you all the feels; with dustings of snow on high peaks, soft sunlight and cloud-diffused daylight. Photographing the NZ Southern Alps is best done in winter. Picture capturing mirror lakes reflecting snow-capped mountains including Aoraki / Mount Cook (NZ’s highest peak) or standing high in all their epic glory with piercing clouds above!
#3 Glacier Hike, Franz Josef
Good news team, winter is the best time of year to visit glaciers; with reliable weather, less visitors and less melt, taking on a glacier hike in winter just has that magical edge over summer. Plus, the crevasses and ice caves stick around longer, meaning you can really enjoy the scenery as you navigate through this surreal landscape.
#4 Tongariro Crossing, Tongariro
You’ll have to be prepared to get familiar with a pair of crampons and an ice-axe… but all in the name of adventure and mind-blowing scenery? We’re in! The Tongariro Crossing is more of a challenge in the winter but it’s do-able on a guided hike and, with dustings of snow around, everywhere you look is the definition of winter wonderland.
#5 Thermal Spa, Rotorua
It’s way too hot in the summer to really enjoy this one! There’s nothing quite like fresh crisp air temperatures while sinking into a hot spa pool. The naturally heated pools at Polynesian Spa offer views over Lake Rotorua and, if you’re feeling fancy, you can even get a private pool with your besties for ultimate relaxation.
#6 Take A Cold Water Dip, Coromandel
Call us crazy, but the experts say a cold water dip in the ocean is good for you. And we concur! Obviously, a sunny day with low wind is recommended, but a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Coromandel is one of those winter YOLO moments. Dig a hole and get cosy in the naturally heated water at Hot Water Beach or, take a hike to warm up before jumping into dreamy waters at Cathedral Cove.