Where to visit in New Zealand in January

January, ah January. The Christmas decorations are down, the New Year has been welcomed and the weather is good. It’s the perfect month for getting out and about to explore New Zealand, and where better to go than some places with a historic connection to the month itself.

Places to Visit in New Zealand in January

Pencarrow Lighthouse

On New Year’s Day in 1859, after years of waiting, Wellington had its first permanent lighthouse. Many local settlers took a boat trip in the SS Wonga Wonga to see the light illuminate for the first time, clambering ashore to listen to Edward Wright, the chief engineer on the project, as he explained to them how the thing worked. These days, the lighthouse has been decommissioned, though the headland is a popular place for walking or biking.

Places to Visit in New Zealand in January: Pencarrow Head
Pencarrow Head: Photo on Flickr by Phillip Capper / CC BY 2.0

Sheep shearing

New Zealand is so passionate about sheep shearing it’s recognised as a sport, so it comes as no surprise that the Federated Farmers of New Zealand asked for it to be included in the 2012 Olympics. On 6 January 1953, the originator of the Bowen technique, Godfrey Bowen, set what was then a world record, shearing 456 woolly ewes in eight hours. If you’d like to see how it’s done, drive to The Point just outside Kaikoura to watch; in January you can still cuddle one of their lambs as you give it a bottle of milk.

Places to Visit in New Zealand in January: New Zealand lambs
New Zealand lambs

The Haast Pass

1863 saw the expedition of one Julius von Haast, a geologist from Canterbury who went in search of a route overland from east to west on South Island. He found coal at Grey River and gold further west. Prospector Charles Cameron was the first to “discover” what became Haast Pass, but it would be Julius who would give it the now-famous name after reaching it on the 23rd of the month. Today, it’s a deservedly popular place with tourists, with a myriad of walks to landmarks such as the Blue Pools, Thunder Creek Falls and the wild waters of the Gates of Haast gorge.

Gates of Haast Bridge
Gates of Haast Bridge: Photo on Flickr by Rexness / CC BY-SA 2.0

Anniversary day in Auckland

Commemorating Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson’s arrival in the Bay of Islands in 1840, anniversary day is marked in New Zealand’s largest city on 29 January. It’s best known for the regatta in Waitemata Harbour, one of the most impressive in the world, which takes place on the closest Monday to the actual day. This year, that means that there’s no better spot to be this 1st February than watching the dragon boats, racing tugs, radio-controlled yachts and more.

Places to Visit in New Zealand in January: Auckland Harbour
Auckland Harbour: Photo by Ronnie Macdonald / CC BY 2.0

About JuliaHammond

Website: http://www.juliahammond.co.uk

Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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