Seven reasons to travel to NZ in Winter

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It’s not all sun and beaches in New Zealand, which makes travelling here in winter such a fantastic option!


We all know that New Zealand is a bit far away from the rest of the world. Tucked down as we are in the South Pacific it takes some time to reach us, and you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your travels. Luckily, New Zealand is so much more than a ‘sun and sand’ destination – we’re a winter wonderland in our own right! Here’s our guide to the best reasons to travel to NZ for a winter getaway.


1. You’ll miss the crowds

Not everyone is as proactive as you, researching what time of year they should go to New Zealand! Approximately 2/3 of all visitors to NZ come during the spring and summer months, with December through to January being the busiest. By coming during the winter months you’ll not only get to enjoy all the amazing benefits listed below, but you’ll be able to do them at your own pace without the crowds. Some guided tours and adventures will have smaller groups in winter too, giving you a more intimate experience to boot.

2. Ski all day

With so many mountains in New Zealand it comes as no surprise that you can find excellent ski fields. In fact, between commercial and independent options, there are more than 20 fields on offer! Whakapapa and Turoa are the two largest, both found on Mt Ruapehu near Ohakune in the North Island. Queenstown and Wanaka in the South Island are home to Treble Cone, Cardrona, Coronet Peak, and The Remarkables among others. Not for the light of heart, there are hardcore backcountry skiing adventures waiting for the experienced mountaineers.

Skiing in Queenstown

Queenstown doesn’t just offer great ski runs, but breathtaking views too.

3. More rain means bigger rivers!

If you’re seeking some excitement and adventure on your trip, then bigger is better, right? The Kaitiaki Adventures rafting experiences takes full advantage of the rushing winter rivers. Don’t worry about the weather, the water is 11-16 degrees during winter and you’ll be given all the warm, wet-weather gear that you’ll need. Bring some warm clothes for afterwards, and maybe put aside some time for a dip in a hot spring!

4. Thermal pools are even better in the cold

After an unforgettable experience rafting with Kaitiaki Adventures, you’ll probably be ready to jump into a hot pool. Luckily, Rotorua is famous for its geothermally heated hot springs. Either keep your adventurous day going and track down one of the free natural hot springs like Kerosene Creek or the Wairau Stream, or pay to relax style in the Polynesian Spa.

5. The surf’s up

First things first, you’ll want to have a wetsuit at the ready before surfing New Zealand breaks during winter. While we may be a Pacific nation, it’s definitely going to be chilly. New Zealand has some world-class surf spots, with many of them become more active and consistent in winter. If you’re in the North Island then head to Taranaki or Raglan for top winter breaks. In the South Island? Kaikoura gets swells from a deep water trench just offshore the two local beaches.

6. Arthur’s Pass is even more beautiful in winter

One of the top stops to visit in the South Island, Arthur’s Pass is the highest pass across the spectacular Southern Alps. It’s a fantastic drive across bridges and past waterfalls, while the TranzAlpine train stops at the small town 900m above sea level! In winter the snow, ice, and swollen rivers transform the landscape into something out of a fairy tale.

Arthur's Pass New Zealand

Driving through the pass is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially when glittering with snow and ice.

7. Winter photography is amazing.

While photos might not be the #1 priority on your trip, they’re incredibly important for capturing the memories you make while here. They’re also great for bragging rights and showing off to your friends and family when you return! There is something magical about the light during the New Zealand winters, particularly in the afternoons as the sun goes down and the sky becomes an artists pallet of blues, purples and pinks. The natural beauty of New Zealand combined with the stunning winter atmosphere will make sure that everyone from the office is jealous of your trip!

  • Review of: Cath Hagan
    If you havent already been white-water rafting then this is the BEST place in the world to have a go!
  • Review of: Sarah H
    Be prepared for an adventure, the views are stunning, and the sense of awe and accomplishment at the end was amazing.
  • Review of: Tristan P
    A must do! Our guides Cam & Curtis were amazing and really funny. Definitely the highlight of the month.
  • Review of: Caradis A
    What an amazing time! We had so much rafting fun, even though at first I was terrified. Will recommend this to everyone.
  • Review of: Te-Aroha P
    Such an exhilarating experience. We loved all the waterfalls and rapids, but we always felt safe with an awesome safety crew.
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