Why you should visit New Zealand this winter

A visit to the southern hemisphere in winter is not as daft an idea as it may sound. Here are four reasons why you should visit New Zealand in winter instead of waiting for summer.

Reasons to Visit New Zealand in Winter

1. You can get your winter sports fix

Visit New Zealand in Winter: Remarkables Ski Area, Queenstown
Remarkables Ski Area, Queenstown

If you live in the northern hemisphere but you love to hit the slopes, then it will seem like an eternity before ski season begins. Head for Queenstown or Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island, however, and you won’t have to wait. Both bases give you easy access to four excellent ski resorts: The Remarkables, Cardrona, Treble Cone and Coronet Peak. Choose Queenstown for a lively atmosphere with plenty of things to do off the piste and a vibrant après ski scene. Wanaka will suit you better if you prefer a quieter location where you can chill out.

2. It’s the perfect time to spot whales

Visit New Zealand in Winter: Jumping humpback whale
Jumping humpback whale: Photo Zorankovacevic / CC BY-SA 2.5

From June until August, humpback whales leave the cold waters of the Antarctic and head north to warm up. On their way, they take a rest in Kaikoura, making this the perfect time for your Kaikoura whale watching trip. Humpbacks are not the only species to migrate; they’re joined by pilot, blue and southern right whales. Add to that the sperm whales that live in the nutrient rich waters year round and you can see why this would be a whale watcher’s dream.

3. Wellington holds its annual food festival in August

Grilling Steaks
Grilling steaks: Photo on Flickr by BuBBY_from USA / CC by 2.0 Credit: Carnivore Style

Wellington on a Plate runs this year from 14 to 30 August and boasts an array of special events. This year, why not try “A lick with a kick” and learn how to make ice cream cocktails. Lyall Bay will come alive with its delicious night market; it’s free to go along and all you pay for is the food you consume. If you love to dance, there’s a traditional asado and tango event to transport you to Argentina for an evening, or for something a little different, a Turkish evening hosted by Salty Pidgin will commemorate the centennial anniversary of Gallipoli.

4. Beat the crowds on the TranzAlpine train

Visit New Zealand in Winter: Snow on Southern Alps from TranzAlpine Train
Snow on Southern Alps from TranzAlpine Train

The TranzAlpine train is pretty special all year round, but take the train in winter and you’ll find it much easier to bag a window seat. Outside, there’ll still be ice on the puddles and a frost on the grass, but on a clear day it’s hard to beat the soft winter light as the train travels through some of New Zealand’s prettiest scenery. It’s still possible to ride in the open sided viewing car, but prepare to wrap up warm as the wind can bite your cheeks and numb your ears.

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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