Things to do in New Zealand this winter

Embrace the cold!

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New Zealand is undeniably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and during winter it becomes a living postcard. What also cannot be denied is that it gets damn cold, and while your first instincts might be to scuttle inside and hibernate, if you get out and explore, there are plenty of amazing activities to enjoy. We’ve highlighted a few of our favourites below. 

Hit the best slopes in the world

With dozens of resorts of differing sizes dotted across the country, it’s no surprise that snow season sees a flood of people from around the world hit NZ.

Coronet Peak and Cardrona are both close to Queenstown, and both offer a range of beginning and expert courses. Those looking for a view may opt for Cardrona’s jaw-dropping 1860-metre-high peak.

If you are a complete novice, you can learn how to snowboard or ski at Treble Cone, which is the South Island’s biggest skiing and snowboarding resort. They offer lessons for complete beginnings – you’ll be surprised how quickly you pick it up —  while there are plenty of trails that will impress even the most expert skier.

Mt. Hutt is perhaps the most popular of the big resorts during the snow season; there’s a reason it is routinely named one of the world’s finest ski resorts. But in terms of variety it cannot be beaten, with four freestyle mountain parks, ski lifts for beginners, and differing passes for experts, families, and anyone inbetween. 

Ring in the Maori New Year

Early year from late May to early June – depending on geography – the Matariki arrives and signals the beginning of the Maori New Year. Matariki is a cluster of stars also knows as the Seven Sisters which can be seen in the early evening throughout winter and early spring.

The country hosts numerous Matariki festivals, with the largest of these being in Auckland, where over 100 different celebrations take place across the city – the Sky Tower and Auckland Museum are lit up with orange light as a marvellous marker. The Te Papa Museum in Wellington hosts the most educational and family-friendly of these celebrations, with a full program of events spanning the winter months, but no matter whereabouts in the country you are, you should be able to find a Matariki celebration nearby.

Image credit: Matariki Festival

Winter: fine time for a wine

There’s nothing quite like red wine to warm your soul and body during those freezing months.

Luckily, New Zealand boasts some of the finest wineries in the world, and there’s no better time to spend a few leisurely hours exploring the local vineyards and learning about the way in which wine is made, while sampling more than your fair share of the local drops. There are numerous wineries that offer tours all year round, so if proximity is a consideration, you’ll be best served to try the closest to you, but if wandering is an option, the Queenstown Wine Trail is like a cross between a pub crawl and a nature trail, Waiheke Island Wine Tours offers an award-winning two-day expansive tour, and Auckland Fine Wines tour hits up some of the city’s best vineyards. 

Winter festivals, carnivals, and more

The Midwinter Carnival in Dunedin is one of the most popular attractions on the calendar, with family-friendly vibes, and a carnival atmosphere. It takes place on the Saturday nearest to the Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year) with this year’s event happening on June 30. Starting at 5:30pm, the event features live music, a ton of foodstalls, rides, and a huge carnival procession. Later in the evening there is a fireworks display, and massive indoor lantern installations.

Image credit: Midwinter Carnival

Queenstown Winter Festival is a massive four-day celebration of music, snow and food. They recently unveiled the schedule for this year’s festival – spanning from the 21st to the 24th June – and it boasts an all-New Zealand musical lineup, with big names such as The Black Seeds, Maala, and The Feelers soundtracking things. The stage has also been moved onto the beachfront, with the beautiful Lake Wakapitu as a backdrop.

Image credit: Queenstown Winter Festival

Posted by Nathan Jolly | Unless otherwise credited, images sourced from ShutterStock