The North Island’s Central Plateau is bubbling with excitement year-round. Hit the road this winter and enjoy these top experiences.
Feel the spirit of the region with a guided Redwoods TreeWalk(opens in new window) in Whakarewarewa Forest that takes you over suspension bridges through the towering trees or for more of an adrenaline rush experience the magnificent forests and birdlife with Rotorua Canopy Tours'(opens in new window) thrilling ziplining adventures. For biking enthusiasts,(opens in new window) there is no better haven than the Redwoods with a track for every ability.
If you visit in winter and you simply can’t stay away from the slopes Mount Ruapehu has you covered no matter what your skiing ability is. For those who stay off the skies more than on them, Happy Valley Snow Park(opens in new window) is ideal. Located in Whakapapa (Mount Ruapehu)(opens in new window), Happy Valley is NZ’s premier beginner ski area featuring carpet lifts and a double chairlift and has its own licensed bistro and rentals facility. Sheltered from the weather and set away from the rest of the ski area, it’s a very safe and gentle slope for first timers.
Taking the grand stand in the stunning Taupō region is a beautiful lake the size of Singapore. There is a seemingly endless list of activities to do on and around the lake. Take in the iconic Mine Bay Māori Rock carvings(opens in new window) which can be reached either by kayak or on a more relaxing cruise(opens in new window), take a scenic flight(opens in new window) overhead for the optimum bird’s eye view or head out for a stroll along one of the many lakeside walks(opens in new window).
Gain an insight into Māori culture and the myths & legends of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at Te Puia(opens in new window). Home to the National Schools of Wood Carving and Weaving, enjoy live Māori cultural performances as well as a live kiwi bird sanctuary. There's also Mitai Māori Village(opens in new window) where you can view warriors paddling an ancient waka (war canoe), savour a traditionally cooked Hangi (earth oven) meal and enjoy an authentic Māori performance.
Sample mouth-watering, local Taupō (opens in new window)produce at one of the many excellent bistros around the region, washed down with a locally brewed craft beer. Or why not try and catch your own dinner? Book a fishing charter(opens in new window) and have your skipper prepare your fish onboard or take your catch in to one of the local restaurants, where the chef can cook it for you.
Beneath the rolling hills of Waitomo, around two hours from Auckland, lies a network of limestone caverns with stunning formations and glowworm-lit caves enjoyed on a guided boat tour(opens in new window). If you’re into adventure try the unique black water rafting experience on the underground rivers.
Take the chairlift up New Zealand’s largest volcano, Mount Ruapehu(opens in new window) or ride the brand new Sky Waka gondola at Whakapapa (opens in new window)to 2020m above sea level. Take in the extraordinary views overlooking the Central Plateau and enjoy a buffet dining experience at the Pinnacles restaurant. Build a snow man, take part in a sledding race or just absorb the incredible snowy alpine environment.
Hire a vehicle & hit the open road to explore Central North Island. It's easy!
There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget and travel style.
NZ's crisp winter days are perfect for skiing, walking, cycling and soaking in hot pools.
With a little extra precaution, driving during winter in New Zealand is easy.