Best things to see and do in New Zealand in the winter
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The start of June marks the beginning of winter in New Zealand, and we reckon it’s one of the coolest times of the year. Literally and metaphorically.
When those cooler months roll around, it's natural to reach for anything that screams warm and comfort and hold on tight. But don’t let yourself be intimated at the thought of cooler weather and let that stop you from travelling. It’s not as cold as you may think and there are heaps of perks to travelling in winter.
If you’re finding it hard to find motivation to get out there, take inspo from our list of top reasons to explore New Zealand in winter.
1. There are fewer people around. Quieter roads, quieter beaches, quieter attractions. It’s much easier to find solitude and peace in winter with fewer people around. It also means you can be more flexible with your plans, as things don’t necessarily book up in advance.
2. Everything is generally cheaper. Being typically a slower season for tourism, you’re more likely to find pocket-friendly prices in the winter.
3. The snow-cover accentuates the mountains. There is a special sense of exhilaration and wonder driving through a mountain pass covered in snow. Somehow the mountains seem all the bigger when dressed in white.
4. You don’t have to get up as early to catch the sunrise. With the days being shorter, you’ll be able to sleep in past 7am and still be able to catch a stunning sunrise in most parts of NZ.
5. It’s your best chance of seeing the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). A rare sight, the incredible phenomena causes the skies to light up with displays of pink and green. The best places to spot the Southern Lights include Stewart Island, Lake Tekapo, The Catlins, Lake Wakatipu, Invercargill and Dunedin.
6. The Southern Hemisphere’s best ski resorts are in full swing. The snow has started early this year, and many of NZ’s ski fields are already coated in a blanket of powdery snow. Get ready to experience postcard views at every ski turn, at one of New Zealand’s best ski resorts.
7. Hot pools are much better in winter. Our geothermal pools are some of the best in the world, and the perfect thing to warm you up and relax on a winter’s day. Soak up the country's beautiful surrounds in one of New Zealand's best hot pools.
8. It’s the best bet to see the All Blacks play a home game. Winter is rugby season. And watching the All Blacks perform the Haka and play on their home soil is Kiwi bucket list material. They’ve got a string of games already scheduled in July in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton.
9. Sipping a red wine by a fireside isn’t the same in summer. Cellar doors and tasting rooms have a special charm in winter, and it’s a great time to meet the winemakers as they’re generally quieter. The Marlborough region even has their own Winter Fireplace Trail, so you can enjoy a drop cosying up in front of a crackling fire. Visit and enjoy some of New Zealand’s most amazing wineries this winter.
10. Humpback whales are migrating north, and best spotted in winter. June to August is typically when these incredible creatures are headed north to warmer waters, making it the best time of the year to view their spectacular breaching displays along the coastline of NZ.
11. No better time to use the 10% TOP 10 Member discount on the TranzAlpine scenic train. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great rail journeys, cutting across the South Island between Christchurch and Greymouth through Arthur’s Pass. If you can go when it’s been snowing, the scenery is spectacular with snow-capped mountains and picturesque lakes and rivers. Be sure to claim the TOP 10 Member discount: 10% off Scenic Train Journey fares and onboard purchases.
12. Some of NZ’s most colourful festivals take place in winter. From light displays and cultural celebrations, to music concerts and food fests, there’s a heap of festivals you should mark in your calendar for the winter. To name a few: Matariki (June/July), Ohakune Mardi Gras (June), Oamaru Steampunk Festival (June), Nelson Light Festival (July), Russell Birdman (July), Taupo Winter Festival (July), Wellington on a Plate (August)
Ready to book a winter escape? We’ve got your winter accommodation sorted, and have plenty of quality cabins, apartment and motel options to keep you warm and cosy on the road.
Still recoiling at the idea of leaving the comfort of home this winter?
That’s snow problem.
When most people think of TOP 10, they think camping, vanning, warm weather and being outdoors. We’re synonymous with summer. But most people don’t truly understand how many warm, heated, and comfortable accommodation options available to keep you toasty while travelling in winter. Some parks even have their own hot tubs, spas, saunas, pizza ovens and fire places.
Our friendly staff are always willing to go above and beyond to ensure you have an enjoyable stay, so if you're not sure what type of accommodation is going to best suit your needs this winter, please pick up the phone and give them a call to get advice and recommendations.
Whether you’re looking for a quick stopover for the night or wanting to settle in for a week or two, TOP 10 Holiday Parks provides a wide range of comfortable and affordable accommodation options for your winter getaway. Find out more about TOP 10's diverse range of quality accommodation.