Winter is a great time to visit New Zealand as you will be exposed to an incredible assortment of activities. You get to enjoy the sporty attractions to amazing destinations and cool events, you will find a bit of everything. Here are 6 things to do in New Zealand this winter.
6 of the very best things to do during the winter season
1. Whale Watch
Winter and Autumn are the seasons to head toward Kaikoura for a bit of whale watching. In June and July these majestic mammals are at the peak of their migration period – so can watch them at this time and also many other different species at once. You may also visit Wellington and Picton to have a glimpse of the whales. This is one of the 6 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 a number of 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. The South Island’s Hanmer Springs is popular for its hot water which is close to a ski field – making it the best destination after a day of hitting the snow. There are Taupo, Tongariro, and the Bay of Plenty’s White Island also other thermal treasures to explore on your travels.
One of the favourite hot springs is located down in Canterbury in the beautiful town of Hanmer Springs. Located about two hours from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs is nestled in the Southern Alps and the thermal pools and spa enjoy the great backdrop of the snowcapped peaks as you sit back and relax in the warming waters. Hanmer Springs resort has a range of pools at different temperatures as well as private pools, saunas and steam rooms and is a great place to kick back and relax.
3. Ski and Snowboard
Winter is all about snow. Most of the terrains in the North and South Islands 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 in 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 yadd. That’s why this Wanaka ski field makes the top of our list. Prefer to pump it at a huge 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, then there is that too! Cardrona is near the town of Wanaka.
4. 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 both Māori and Pākehā to celebrate Matariki. From 2022, a public holiday marking Matariki will be held in June or July each year
5. Explore the Local Wineries
The wineries are a year-round threat. Your trip to New Zealand is not complete 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 their 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, a planting method that rejects the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in favor of more holistic agricultural practices. The winery is set 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
This is the best time to familiarize yourself with the local gastro scene. Do not miss checking out the iconic Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Classic festival where you can find an incredible assortment of full-bodied reds, the 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 of 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 just some favourites, keep an eye out for new creations! Individually wrapped, the Cookie Time Cookie(opens in new window) is a range of different sized biscuits with flavours such as triple chocolate, gingernut and macadamia and white chocolate. Pineapple Lumps and Jaffa’s are other favourite New Zealand lollies (sweets or candy).
These are some of the most amazing and popular places that you mustn’t miss checking out during your next visit to New Zealand, especially this winter.