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From adrenalin-pumping activities to breathtaking views, winter in New Zealand definitely doesn't lack for incredible experiences! Heading to the South Island in winter is just as good as summer, if not better - think less crowds and more snow-capped mountains. Don't miss these unique winter experiences.
1: Surfing Westport
Jumping into the waters of the wild West Coast may not be the first activity that springs to mind mid-winter. However, with great surfing to be had along this rugged, spectacular coastline and sea temperatures averaging a mild 14-15°C, you’ll be donning a wetsuit in no time. With a strong local surf community, waking up at the crack of dawn for a surf (or surf lesson) is well worth the effort.
- Rated by many as one of the most memorable ways to start a winter’s day in New Zealand!
- Mild ocean temperatures year-round
2: Skiing Queenstown
Backpacker hot-spot Queenstown is known for its winter fun, on and off the slopes. With three major ski fields within easy reach and lively après-ski there is no shortage of ways to keep yourself amused. For a good all-round ski station Cardrona is a solid choice, offering wide open trails, numerous beginner and intermediate runs and several terrain parks. Heading back into Queenstown after a day’s skiing the town’s many bars and backpackers fuel the après-ski scene the town is known for.
- Experience some of New Zealand’s best skiing & snowboarding
- The town’s lively night life gets even livelier in winter with après-ski
3: Lake Tekapo
This picturesque town transforms into a winter-wonderland during the colder months, offering not only stunning views but also hot pools, ice skating and skiing. Tekapo Springs outdoor hot pools has to be one of the best spots to admire the views across the lake. The winter season also means that the more active can get their skates on and make the most of its ice skating rink. Skiers will find four uncrowded, inexpensive ski fields to choose from nearby.
- Skiing, ice skating, snow-shoe trekking, take your pick of snow-based activities!
- Dramatic views of the Southern Alps across Lake Tekapo’s turquoise waters
4: Franz Josef Glacier
Emerging from the surrounding rainforest, Franz Josef Glacier and neighbouring Fox Glacier are two of only three glaciers in the world that descend into temperature rainforests. Stretching 12km from the Southern Alps to less than 300m above sea level, Franz Josef glacier is spectacular all year round. Even more so during the winter months with greater snowfall on the upper reaches of the glacier and snow-capped Southern Alps behind.
- More snow on the glacier and surrounding mountains
- Spectacular heli-ride views and glacier tours
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