6 Things to Do in New Zealand This Winter

6 Things to Do in New Zealand This Winter
Things to Do in New Zealand This Winter

Winter is the best time to visit New Zealand as you will be exposed to an incredible assortment of activities. You get to enjoy the sporty attractions, destinations, and cool events; you will find a bit of everything.

6 of the very best things to do during the winter season

1. Whale Watch

Whale Watch
Whale Watch

Winter and Autumn are the seasons to head toward Kaikoura for whale watching. In June and July, these majestic mammals are at the peak of their migration period so that you can watch them and many other species simultaneously. You may also visit Wellington and Picton to glimpse the whales. This is one of the six things to do in New Zealand this winter.

Whales thrive close to Kaikoura because of its unusual submarine landscape. The continental shelf drops quickly into several extremely deep underwater canyons. In addition, a warm current from the north meets a colder one from the south. This causes nutrients from deep within the ocean to be carried upward, a phenomenon that helps to support all types of marine life, from plankton and krill to dolphins and whales.

2. Romance with the Hot Springs

Too cold? Not to worry – New Zealand’s springs come to your rescue. You can visit Rotorua, which is popular for its hot water wonders. South Island’s Hanmer Springs is popular for its hot water, which is close to a ski field, making it the best destination after hitting the snow for a day. There are Taupo, Tongariro, and the Bay of Plenty’s White Island and other thermal treasures to explore on your travels.

One of my best hot springs is located in Canterbury in the beautiful town of Hanmer Springs. About two hours from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs is nestled in the Southern Alps. The thermal pools and spa offer a backdrop of snowcapped peaks as you sit back and relax in the warming waters.

Hanmer Springs Resort has a range of pools at different temperatures, private pools, saunas, and steam rooms, and it is a nice place to kick back and relax.

3. Ski and Snowboard

Ski and Snowboard
Ski and Snowboard

Winter is all about snow. Most of the North and South Islands terrains cater to your demands. Several of them have separate runs for different skill levels, and guided instruction is an option too. You can visit Mount Ruapehu on the North Island, while popular South Island fields include Cardrona, Mt Hutt, and Treble Cone.

Cardrona is a safe bet, a good all-rounder, something for everyone, yadda yadda. That’s why this Wanaka ski field makes the top of our list. I prefer to pump it at a terrain park: well, Cardrona has one of the biggest in New Zealand! Or, if you would rather cruise the trails or find some off-peak areas, there is that, too! Cardrona is near the town of Wanaka.

4. Witness Maori New Year

Witness Maori New Year
Witness Maori New Year

Maoris celebrate Matariki, the Maori New Year, country-wide during the beginning of the winter solstice. This festival symbolizes the arrival of the Matariki/Pleiades constellation to the southern skies, ending the harvest season. Many community festivals are observed every year and include dawn ceremonies, art exhibitions, cultural performances, and the sharing of local legends.

Twinkling in the winter sky just before dawn, Matariki (the Pleiades) signals the Māori New Year. For Māori, the appearance of Matariki heralds a time of remembrance, joy and peace. It is a time for communities to come together and celebrate. In the 2000s, it became more common for Māori and Pākehā to celebrate Matariki. From 2024, a public holiday marking Matariki will be held in June or July each year

5. Explore the Local Wineries

Explore the Local Wineries
Explore the Local Wineries

The wineries are a year-round threat. Your trip to New Zealand is incomplete without visiting the best wine-producing destinations. Central Otago is a prominent place to try a variety of reds, while Marlborough is also home to many other famous white wines. Most wineries have restaurants with plenty of indoor seating arrangements to treat you well. Unleash your inner foodie.

Set in the world’s southernmost wine-producing region, Central Otago, Rippon Vineyard is classic in its use of biodynamic processes. This planting method rejects chemical fertilisers and pesticides and favours more holistic agricultural practices. The winery is on Lake Wanaka’s shores, and like its regional counterparts, it is known for its production of Pinot Noir grapes.

Tastings are relatively informal – individuals can rock up to the cellar door anytime during opening hours – and focus on a selection of Rippon’s latest vintages. Food is generally not served at the winery since the focus is primarily on the degustation experience.

6. Treat your Taste buds

Treat your Taste buds
Treat your Taste buds.

This is the best time to familiarize yourself with the local gastro scene. Do not miss the iconic Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Classic festival, where you can find an incredible assortment of full-bodied reds, fresh local produce, and lashings of local lamb and venison. If you love chocolates, you’d love Dunedin’s Cadbury Chocolate Carnival, held in July every year. On 1st August, Auckland’s Restaurant Month kicks off, and Visa Wellington On A Plate can relish your palates in the same month.

Whittaker’s peanut slabs, creamy caramel, and jelly-tip chocolate are some of my favourites. Keep an eye out for new creations! Individually wrapped, the Cookie Time Cookie(opens in new window) is a different-sized biscuit with flavours like triple chocolate, gingernut macadamia, and white chocolate. Pineapple Lumps and Jaffa’s are other popular New Zealand lollies (sweets or candy). 

Takeaways

Winter is the perfect time to explore New Zealand, offering activities. Start with whale watching in Kaikoura, where the unique marine landscape attracts diverse species. For relaxation, visit Rotorua and Hanmer Springs hot springs, providing a warm retreat after a day in the snow. Skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts can hit the slopes in popular spots like Cardrona and Mt. Hutt.

Experience the cultural richness of the Maori New Year, Matariki, with its festivals and ceremonies. Wine lovers can savour the renowned wines of Central Otago and Marlborough. Finally, indulge in local flavours at festivals like Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Classic. I highly recommend immersing yourself in these winter activities for a memorable New Zealand experience.

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.