Winter: June – August
Winter in New Zealand brings colder weather to much of the country, with snow in the South and rain in the North. You’ll need jeans, long-sleeved tops and coats in most places, and if you’re heading into the mountains thermals, gloves and thick sweaters are also a good idea.
Snow typically appears during the months of June through October, though cold snaps can occur outside these months. Most snow in New Zealand falls in the mountainous areas, like the Central Plateau in the north, and the Southern Alps in the south. It also falls heavily in inland Canterbury and Otago.
Skiing – Visit some of New Zealand’s most family friendly ski-fields for your first ever lesson. If you don’t like it, make snow angels or enjoy the off-piste attractions (great views and delicious food – being out in the snow almost always generates a great appetite!)
Heliskiing – If you can ski a blue run, why not try heli-skiing? You’ll be taken by helicopter to heights of between 1,400m and 2,200m to ski on the very best powder snow Mother Nature has created.
Snowboarding – Tried skiing but never tried snowboarding? This could be the new winter sport for you.
Scenic Helicopter or Fixed Wing Flights – Soar over the mountains and enjoy the incredible snowy vistas from up high. You’ll enjoy a commentary from the pilot and an experience of a lifetime.
Alpine Climbing – Want a more challenging adventure? Get into peak condition with a local guide and learn more about ice-climbing, snow shoeing, avalanche courses, back country skiing and alpine climbing.
Hot Pools in Winter:
What could be better after a winter’s day outdoors than stepping into an outdoor hot pool surrounded by snow? Not a lot, that’s what. New Zealand has hot springs all over the place –Making the dash through the cold air from the changing rooms at the South Island’s Tekapo Springs makes those piping hot pools all the more rewarding, and with awesome views of Lake Tekapo and the snow-covered Southern Alps, you may never want to leave.
Queenstown Winter Festival:
The Queenstown Winter Festival kicks off with a bang in June every year to celebrate the arrival of winter. Throughout the season you’ll find world-class film festivals, ski and snowboard events including the biennial New Zealand Winter Games as well as entertainment on and off the mountain.
Every year, backpacker hot spot Queenstown celebrates the start of winter with a 10 day extravaganza of parties, fireworks, music, comedy and plenty of mountain based fun. It is lucky enough to witness Dog Derby, where anyone with a dog can get involved racing down Coronet Peak with their furry friend.
Whale Watching at the Coast of Kaikoura
Whale watching is one of the most popular things to do in New Zealand any time of the year. But did you know that some months are better than others for an up close view of these marine giants? That’s right. While international tourists may need coaxing to visit New Zealand in the winter, pods of whales are more than willing to stop by. Humpback whales, blue whales and southern right whales leave the frigid waters of Antarctica in the winter and migrate towards tropical Tonga. Catch them mid-migration in Kaikoura, where they spend June and July with the sperm whales that live there year-round and feed on the giant squid living in the underwater Kaikoura Canyon.
Save Your Cash
The New Zealand winter is off-season for tourism, and you know what that means: cheaper airfare and accommodation. You’ll find you can stay longer and do more with the extra cash you save (which can be significant if you grab a good deal on flights).
You’ll also find that the typical tourist hotspots like Milford Sound and Te Papa are quiet and even downright pleasant. You may even be able to take photos that don’t have tour buses and mobs loitering in the background. Imagine.
And if you’re still dying for a dash a warm weather, look into a long stopover on your way back home. Depending on the direction you fly, most airlines will allow you some extra time in Dubai, Bangkok, Sydney or the Pacific Islands at no extra cost.
Photo Credits – Respectively –> Fraser Clements, Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters, Julian Apse