There is nothing quite like a South Island winter. To find out why, try these must-do winter activities.
1. Find sanctuary at a cosy retreat
Here’s how to hide away from the cold and still feel connected with nature. Book into the Hermitage Hotel and you’ll want to spend the whole time looking out the window. The views, which include New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mount Cook, are beyond stunning.
Try a PurePod. These little glass houses are found in ten locations across the South Island. For an added bit of intrigue, you won’t be informed of your pod’s location until after you’ve booked. Plus, each pod is equipped with a pair of binoculars, so you can observe wildlife without getting out of bed.
5. Ride on one of the world's greatest train journeys
Ride one of the world's greatest train journeys on the TranzAlpine train(opens in new window), traversing through the Southern Alps. Travel through the patchwork Canterbury Plains up into Arthur’s Pass National Park. From here, you’ll journey down into the wild beech forests of the West Coast, finishing in Greymouth. The train stops at several remote stations along the way, so you can have the option to get off and explore more of the area. This is no ordinary train trip - venturing past the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, the ice-fed Waimakariri River, and dramatic viaducts. It's an unforgettable journey from the East Coast to the West Coast of the South Island.
New Zealand is internationally known for amazing whale watching opportunities, complete with marvellous natural surroundings. You'll be spoilt for choice in seeing whales, especially in the South Island. During the winter months, humpback whales migrate from Antarctica and travel north to the warmer waters of New Zealand to breed. They stay in warm waters and migrate back south to feed as winter comes to an end, making winter the best time to see these majestic giants. The cooler months will treat you to stunning crisp blue skies and snow-capped peaks.
Are you brave enough to do something adventurous this winter? Will you take on the challenge of bungy jumping in Queenstown, skydiving in Wānaka, or paragliding and ziplining across the South Island? Take in the breathtaking views with tandem paragliding(opens in new window) or try hang gliding 5,400 feet above sea level. Feel the exhilaration of a jet boat ride(opens in new window) and journey deep into the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park. For something truly unique, experience WildWire(opens in new window) in Wānaka - the world's highest waterfall cable climb.
Tasman’s Great Taste Trail is a network of cycleways threaded inland and along the coast, linking Nelson, Wakefield, Richmond, Motueka and Kaiteriteri. Looping through the region’s charming countryside and along its enviable coastline, postcard-perfect views are only part of the story. This leisurely trail network is a terrific way to tour the region’s attractions, ranging from art galleries and boutiques to fruit stalls, fish & chip shops, craft breweries and wineries. The full trail is 174 kilometres long and can also be tailored to day rides allowing plenty of time for enjoying the sights.