Winter in New Zealand
Whether it’s outdoor adventure, gentle action, or cosy fireside relaxation that whets the appetite, winter in New Zealand has something for everyone.
This is the time to hit the slopes as winter brings snow to the mountains of the central North Island and the great Southern Alps of the South Island - an alpine playground that's bigger than the European Alps.
The North Island Central Plateau, which is dominated by volcanic Mt Ruapehu on the skyline of Tongariro National Park - a dual World Heritage Site recognised for its natural beauty and cultural significance - has the country's largest ski areas.
Running the length of the South Island, the Southern Alps have several big ski areas, and numerous smaller club ski fields. Coronet Peak, in Queenstown, is New Zealand's most popular field. Mt Hutt, in the Canterbury region, has one of the longest and most consistent seasons in the southern hemisphere.
Elsewhere, in coastal areas, visitors can still expect to find milder temperatures and pleasant conditions for many other outdoor activities - from steaming geothermal pools to hiking glaciers and cycling part of New Zealand’s dedicated cycle trail network.
For winter holidaymakers wanting to take a day off from skiing and snowboarding, New Zealand’s ski regions offer some quirky fun-filled snow-related activities.
Winter events in New Zealand
New Zealand’s winter season is the time for a wide variety of events - from traditional cultural celebrations for Matariki to the colourful and quirky Queenstown Winter Festival, major international events such as Winter Games NZ and Visa Wellington on a Plate for serious food lovers.
Matariki - the traditional Māori celebration of the winter solstice - is marked by the arrival of the Matariki / Pleiades star constellation in the southern skies. This is the occasion for multiple community celebrations and art events celebrating the end of the harvest and time of plenty.
Highlights of the ski season include the annual Queenstown Winter Festival (late June) with something for every style of snow enthusiast. Winter Games NZ - a biennial international sporting event - plays out across the Southern Alps attracting many of the world’s elite winter athletes.
Foodies will also find their fill of events. F.A.W.C! Hawke’s Bay offers a three-day celebration of winter focused on food and wine events, while Wellington on a Plate is a full-scale extravaganza of around 50 food events over two weeks.
Snow is gathering on New Zealand's high country and mountain resorts are grooming their fields as the country says goodbye to autumn and welcomes visitors for another season of uniquely Kiwi winter events.
Whakapapa skifield on Mt Ruapehu overlooks the volcanic cones of Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. The three volcanoes dominate Tongariro National Park on the North Island Central Plateau.
Rotorua's geothermal magic is a year-round phenomena. Natural heating - hot springs, boiling mud and geysers - makes Te Puia a steamy winter combo of Maori culture and nature.
Friday and Saturday evenings during the ski season, Coronet Peak lights up for night skiing sessions - an even more magical experience under a full moon.
Cosy fireside dining on the verandah at Blanket Bay Lodge - a luxury destination on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, near Queenstown.