If you are preparing to take a vacation, traveling to New Zealand for a Southern Hemisphere winter holiday (May to August) is ideal for you and your family. Because of difference from many parts of the world, winter in New Zealand don’t lie under snow for months on end but very rarely sits anywhere for more than a few days at a time, even in the depths of winter despite being apart from the peaks of our Southern Alps, and the North Island’s small group of volcanoes – Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.
New Zealand has a temperate climate – which means it doesn’t get excessively hot in summer (most of the time) and equally, doesn’t get incredibly cold in winter, despite the fact that it’s the last populated country en route to Antarctica.
The southernmost parts of the South Island can certainly feel the bite of southerly winds blowing up from the Ice, but overall, New Zealand is an easy place to spend a holiday – no matter what time of year it is.
Having said that, there are some key things to remember if you plan on having a wonderful winter holiday in New Zealand.
There may not be snow on the ground, but there will be plenty of rain, possibly hail from time to time, and occasional fog.
There will also be a high likelihood of frost, especially if you are anywhere from Lake Taupo south. The great thing about frosty days, is that almost without exception, they turn into a beautiful blue sky, sunny day once the icicles have thawed.
So pack warm clothes and head for the places you can really enjoy the best of winter outdoors – the snow fields and skating rinks.
Make sure your hire vehicle comes with chains if you are headed anywhere near the mountains – and make sure you know how to put them on the car or van.
Try to plan your driving so you are travelling during daylight hours – and remember it gets dark by about 5.30pm in mid-winter.
Skiers and Snowboarders Welcome
New Zealand is very well endowed with great ski areas – most of them in the South Island, including the largest ski area with the longest season in Australasia, Mt Hutt. In all, the province of Canterbury has 18 ski fields, if you include the commercial fields of Hutt, Porters Pass, Mt Lyford, Round Hill, Mt Dobson and Ohau, as well as a range of club fields and heli-skiing opportunities.
Further south, Queenstown and Wanaka are the dominant players, boasting Treble Cone and Cardrona at Wanaka, and Coronet Peak and the Remarkables in Queenstown.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about all of these ski fields is that they are at most a day’s drive from the furthest north, to the furthest south. So you have plenty of options within driving distance should one field be closed.
A great way to follow the best snow conditions and combine your transport and accommodation into one, is to hire a six berth campervan and get a group of your friends together for the trip. You can park at the bottom of the ski field road and take a shuttle up to the top, or with fields like Coronet that have fully sealed roads all the way up the mountain, you can easily drive your campervan up to the carpark, so it can act as your base for the day’s activities.
If you are hiring a campervan for your winter holiday, make sure you check out these winter driving tips from the New Zealand Automobile Association – and most importantly, remember that in New Zealand we drive on the left hand side of the road!
To buy ski passes and get all the information you need to plan your trip, visit ski-newzealand.co.nz for information and prices on ski areas throughout the South Island, gear hire packages and more.
Skiing and snowboarding are not the only fun winter activities to be had in the South Island – outdoor ice-skating is another option.
For the full winter wonderland experience, you really can’t beat the South Island’s Lake Tekapo mid winter. Not only do you have a great learners ski field at Round Hill, there’s the Southern Alps backdrop all around, the stunning aqua coloured water of the lake, and the perfect combo of skating rink and hot pools at Alpine Springs and Spa. Local teams play ice hockey on the rink and it’s a favourite for recreational skating with travelers too. This great facility also offers snow tubing, for anyone who wants winter fun with absolutely no prior experience required.
There are plenty of other activities to be enjoyed on a crisp winter’s day too – a few rounds of golf on some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses, doing the winery tours, which are to be enjoyed year round and of course enjoying the many cafes, bars and eating establishments around the country. If you are planning a trip to NZ in winter, the Tourism New Zealand website is a great place to start.
Hiring 6 berth campervans is a brilliant idea for a group or family – providing cheaper, self catering accommodation, wrapped up in easy to drive transport to take you right around New Zealand. Each van has full cooking facilities, fridge, shower and toilet, plus added extras like a DVD player for times when you would rather stay indoors.
Save more money by shopping at local supermarkets and preparing most of your meals – but stopping at some of the great cafes along the way is always a highlight too. New Zealand has a reputation for great quality coffee, and if you are looking for something familiar, the major centres even have Starbucks! New Zealand also Visit http://www.pacifichorizon.co.nz for some of the best value campervan rentals in New Zealand.