New Zealand is a top choice for many a round the world trip, offering everything from dramatic mountainscapes, glaciers, bubbling geothermal pools to incredible drives and tucked-away beaches. If you're thinking of heading there during the winter (June to August) there are so many benefits. Here are my 10 reasons to visit during winter in New Zealand.
Avoiding the summer surge means that you can have your pick of the hotels and campervans which are in short supply in the summer in New Zealand. The roads will be much quieter, making for more enjoyable road trips. And the best of all? Because it is cheaper, you can stay for longer!
Obviously this one is only a winter activity! The south island is the main hub for winter sports with resorts like Cardrona, Treble Cone, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak all within a short drive of great accommodation in Queenstown and Wanaka.
Most people who come to New Zealand visit one of the iconic glaciers on the west coast of the south island. Both Fox Glacier and Franz Josef are incredibly beautiful all year round, however in the winter months the glaciers will be at their biggest. The cold weather provides perfect climbing conditions with far more ‘blue sky’ days than during summer, so you’re sure to have an amazing experience and capture some incredible photos.
Kaikoura on the East Coast of the South Island is the home of whale watching in New Zealand. You can see whales here all year round but during June and July you have the best chance of spotting a humpback, blue or southern right whale as its the middle of their migration season.
The best time to visit the Fiordlands of the South Island including Milford and Doubtful Sound is during the winter months. The increased rainfall means the waterfalls are at their most impressive.
The TranzAlpine is is one of the world’s great rail journeys, cutting across the south island between Christchurch and Greymouth over Arthur’s Pass. If you can go when it’s been snowing, the scenery is spectacular with snow-capped mountains and picturesque lakes and rivers. Make sure you get out to the open carriage; I bet you end up taking hundreds of photos!
If you want a bit of warmth during your winter trip in New Zealand you can head up to the Bay of Islands in to enjoy some summer sun and warm your bones. In the far north of the north island - temperatures can reach as high as 25 degrees even during winter. The “Winterless North” offers fishing, swimming, boating and loads of other water sports all year round. Even in the cooler south you can look forward to more blue sky days and crisp, clean air.
After a cold day there’s nothing better than warming up in a hot pool. New Zealand knows how to do a good hot pool, from the completely natural pools around Rotorua in the North, to the manmade structures you will see around the country. After a long day on the slopes, the perfect way to end the day is to warm up in a hot pool.
If you’re in Queenstown for the last week in June, you’re in for a treat. Since 1975, Queenstown has been celebrating the beginning of winter. The festival kicks off with an incredible firework display over Lake Wakatipu, then for the next 10 days there are street parades, live music, ice hockey games, comedy nights, an outdoor ice rink, dog derby (a race down a snow-covered mountain for dogs and their owners), ski and snow boarding shows and so much more. It’s not to be missed!
Whether you want to do a short walk or a multi-night tramp, there’s a suitable track for everyone to enjoy in New Zealand. In the winter some of the tracks are closed, but there are still some incredible walks to do with incredible wintery views. It is harder to pre-plan this, but you can contact the Department of Conversation office whilst in New Zealand for local information.
For more advice on what to see and do in New Zealand and to book your flights, tours and accommodation. As a New Zealand expert, I can tailor-make the perfect New Zealand holiday to suit your style and budget - just contact Annette. See multi-stop flights that go to New Zealand if you want to plan a longer trip.