Places you must visit in New Zealand winter
New Zealand is beautiful in both winter and summer, although there are specific areas you should visit in certain seasons. While the North Island does have a magnificent ski field at Mount Ruapehu, it is primarily known for its tropical beaches and waterfalls. There are thousands of spots throughout the island which will leave you speechless. When it comes to the South Island, it is jam packed full of snowy mountains, glaciers and icy lakes. Here, you will find the tallest peak in New Zealand – Mount Cook. The diversity in the scenery is what makes New Zealand so breathtaking at every glance.
In this piece, we will be focusing on where you should travel in the colder months to take advantage of the sights in their most beautiful moments. The South Island has a very small population and therefore, it is best to either hire a vehicle or take a bus tour throughout. The cheaper alternative would be to hire a caravan to avoid costly accommodation and tour prices. There’s no need to worry as there are mechanics and diesel engine specialists available throughout the island.
Queenstown is not only labelled the adventure capital of the world but it’s one of the most stunning places, too. Situated on a lake front and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the town is unforgettable and many tourists find it difficult to leave. This is why its population is mostly filled with people that have immigrated.
Skydiving, bungee jumping, the luge, jet boats and even skiing on the mountain on the outskirts of the town are all popular adventures. Have a soak at Onsen hot pools overlooking the valley and party it up in all the pubs and clubs, including the Ice Bar which is literally made out of ice, and provides you with jackets and gloves.
Visit Glenorchy and Arrowtown nearby – a historic gold mining town alongside the Arrow river. With the Chinese gold settlement still on show, it is extra beautiful with rust-coloured trees in Autumn.
Franz Josef and Fox Glacier
Franz Joser and Fox Glacier are both classed as the most accessible rivers of ice in the world. The frozen ice sits between green rainforests, and is like something out of a movie. In the early 2000’s, the ice came right to your feet but now, due to climate change, you will need to take a helicopter ride to see the full impact.
The magnificence doesn’t stop there. When you’re visting Fox glacier, take a walk alongside Lake Matheson, known for its mirror reflection of the snowy mountains. And in the evening, walk through a bush path to native fern area filled with sparkling glow worms.
Milford Sounds is labelled the eighth wonder of the world for a reason. With scraping cliffs as high as 1000m and waterfalls overarching the still sounds, it’s home to beautiful dolphins, seals and native kea birds. The sounds’ unique view, unlike any other, were carved by glaciers in the ice age. Take a day cruise through the sounds to see the beauty for yourself. Kayak along the water. Take a hike through the Milford Sounds track to immerse yourself in the Jurassic Park-like nature. The full hike takes four days, however, you can opt for a shorter walk by selecting a small section of the track.
Wanaka and Roy’s Peak
One of the top three hikes in New Zealand is Roy’s Peak. The full-day hike takes you up the mountain to reveal breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka and snow-capped Mount Aspiring. As it is a difficult hike to reach the top, it’s recommended for those who aren’t experienced hikers to attempt to walk as far as you can before turning back. You will still see a snippet of the stunning views, although you won’t reach snow beneath your feet or experience the full 360 views that would take your breath away.
Lake Tekapo is a breathtakingly blue lake world-famous for its purple field of Lupins, snowy peaks surrounding the lakes, and a sky full of stars like no other. The purple flowers sit in beautiful contrast against the blue lakes, and many travel bloggers visit here for the naturally jaw-dropping content. Bear in mind, these are only on show in between September and February. Winter in New Zealand is June to August but the South Island still remains cold for a couple months after this. In order to see the Lupins in the colder months, visit around September and October.
The starry night sky packed full of twinkling stars, against the backdrop of the Good Shepherd Church is one shot tourists spend their lives trying to get. You will certainly cherish the memory for life. Spend the days walking around the local walking tracks and soak in the hot pools overlooking the lake and mountains as the sun sets.
Olivia Fairhurst is a business owner and content manager for various clients, including Franklin Engineering. Olivia studied a degree in communications, majoring in journalism and has past experience as a journalist and Senior PR executive.