Winter Activities in New Zealand

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Ski the South Island slopes

When temperatures drop and verdant volcanic landscapes become cloaked in a blanket of white powder, New Zealand turns into a winter wonderland brimming with exciting alpine activities. Visitors at home and abroad flock to the slopes of New Zealand as soon as the ski fields are open for business, and it's easy to understand their enthusiasm!

The South Island alone is home to nine ski fields in close proximity to Queenstown and Christchurch, between them boasting an exciting variety of runs that trail through stunning scenery. The high alps of Queenstown and nearby Wanaka offer terrain to suit every skier, including heli-skiing for the serious powder hounds and charming après ski villages for leisure off the slopes. There are opportunities to carve it up on a New Zealand ski holiday in the North Island too thanks to Mt Ruapehu, NZ’s only skiable volcano.

Gear up for glacial hiking

On the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island lies the Franz Josef Glacier, highly regarded as one of the country’s most spectacular natural assets. Explorers can rug up and tackle on the icy terrain over a few hours starting with a scenic helicopter ride and ending in the Glacier Hot Pools. There are plenty of glacier tours for beginners and extreme adventurers alike, so everyone can experience glacier country at their own pace.

Just 23-kiloetres south of Franz Josef is its twin the Fox Glacier, larger in size but equally as captivating – the glaciers are at their biggest and best in winter. At the Fox, you can spend half a day hiking or climbing the World Heritage site, meandering through frosted valleys or even trekking the alpine peaks of mammoth Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.

Cold days and steamy hot springs

There’s arguably no better way to enjoy the natural therapies of New Zealand’s hot springs than by doing so at the crux of winter. After a day boarding, skiing, sledding or strolling the snowfields, warm your cockles by plunging into the temperate outdoor pools fed straight from the source – escaping the cold draughts whirling through the ski towns makes the experience all the more rewarding!

Boasting unbeatable views of Lake Tekapo and the snow-capped Southern Alps are the Tekapo Springs at the heart of the South Island, the perfect place to shake off any winter chills. The Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown and Hamner Springs a little north of Christchurch are also popular spots for post-ski relaxation.

A wonderland of winter activities

Winter in New Zealand isn’t just about skiing and snowboarding, though the country does pride itself on providing great opportunities for both. From June to August, New Zealand presents wintertime travellers with an assortment of activities both on and off the slopes.

While it may be a year-round endeavour, skydiving in winter awards daredevils some seriously spectacular snowy views, including the aptly named Remarkables. Back on land, you can spot a humpback, blue or southern right whale at Kaikoura on the east coast of the South Island during migration season, or head inland to Queenstown for the annual Winter Festival – 10 days of nothing but après ski partying.