8 great winter destinations

By: Esha Chanda, Photography by: Getty Images


Snow, southern lights, and starry nights. The colder months have a certain charm to them. We round up eight of NZ's must-visit winter destinations.

Rotorua

Champagne -pool -at -Wai -O-Tapu -Wonderland ,-Rotorua

Take a walk in the Whakarewarewa Forest, enjoy a soothing soak in the Polynesian Spa, go on a native forest canopy zipline tour, or walk around the Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland; there’s a lot you can pack in a day (or the weekend) in Rotorua. A three-hour drive from Auckland, this winter wonderland is a popular quick getaway from the city.

Nugget Point

The -Milky -Way -at -Nugget -Point -Lighthouse

This one is for all the fans of starry nights. Head to the Nugget Point Lighthouse on the Otago coast to spot the core of the sparkling Milky Way. The pathway, the lighthouse, and the dense cluster of millions of stars make a perfect backdrop to sit and stare into the night sky.

Fox Glacier

Fox -Glacier

Walk, hike, or climb the longest of the West Coast glaciers that descend from the Southern Alps. If you’re looking for a bit more adventure, you can skydive from 16,500 feet above the glacier, which is surrounded by rainforests (sitting just 300 metres above the sea level), Mount Cook, and Mount Tasman. But if you’d rather have a relaxed holiday, stop by Lake Matheson to spend a day beside the clear water that reflects Mount Cook.

Ohakune

Whakapapa --Ohakune

Sitting at the edge of the majestic Mt Ruapehu, Ohakune—also known as the Carrot Capital of New Zealand—lures skiers and snowboarders with its après-ski vibe. After a day at either of the two largest ski areas in New Zealand—Whakapapa and Turoa—this charming town makes an ideal place to relax and unwind.

Lake Tekapo

Lake -tekapo -winter

The plus side of cold, shorter days is the magic of the Southern Lights that dance in the night sky. The Aurora Australis, a wintertime highlight, can often be seen from Lake Tekapo, which is known for its clear skies and absence of light pollution. Head to Mount John Observatory to catch this magnificent light show.

Te Puia Springs, Kawhia

Te -Puia -Springs -Kawhia

Hot water beaches are the most sought-after destinations in New Zealand during winter, so no wonder it’s usually crowded with locals and tourists. But if you want to skip the crowd, head to Te Puia Springs in Kawhia—Waikato’s best-kept secret. Take a spade, wear your togs, and soak in the sandy spa pool.

Kaikoura

 Sperm -whale -Kaikoura

Although Kaikoura is still on the road to recovery post the November 2016 earthquake, it hasn’t stopped the locals from welcoming tourists. Winter is an ideal time to visit this picturesque coastal town that has the added charm of snow during the colder months. A popular attraction is the whale watch tours where you can spot sperm whales all year round. Other migrating whales, such as the humpback whales, pilot whales, and blue whales, can be best spotted during winter. Just keep an eye out for the scheduled SH1 repairs before your plan your trip.

White Island

White -Island -Volcano

Explore the inner crater of the country’s largest and most active volcano. With regular group tours organised throughout the year, visitors get a chance to get close to the hot volcanic streams and fumaroles. During winter, you can also spot New Zealand’s fur seals around the island. You can also head to Moutohora to visit the country’s indigenous birds and reptiles.

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