Most of us like to get out of New Zealand at this time of year. As the chill sets in, we jet off to the Pacific Islands or Europe to enjoy some much-needed Vitamin D. While it's easy to feel bothered by the fact we can't do this in 2020, this is the perfect opportunity to discover that our country actually has some pretty amazing winter experiences.
1. Hit the slopes
With winter comes ski season, and skiing or snowboarding are the perfect activities to warm you up during those chilly days. There's Ruapehu in the North Island, while the South Island has plenty of ski fields including Treble Cone, the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Mt Hutt. Go night skiing in Queenstown for something a little different - zoom down the slopes with the twinkling lights of the city below. Follow it up with a decent meal and a beverage at one of the city's many restaurants for a real après ski experience.
2. Go in search of the Southern Lights
The winter skies in the South Island are ideal for spotting the aurora australis, or southern lights. They're not seen as often as their northern hemisphere counterpart, the aurora borealis, but this just makes sightings all the more special. A three hour drive from Christchurch lies the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, where conditions are ripe for viewing this magical phenomenon. Stewart Island, the Catlins and the Otago Peninsula are also great places to witness one of nature's most beautiful displays.
3. Treat yourself to a wine holiday
There's nothing like a glass (or perhaps a bottle) of wine to warm you up on those chilly winter evenings. Get the blood flowing by taking a cycling tour of wineries in the Hawke's Bay, sip your way through the Wairarapa or indulge in some wine tasting amidst the spectacular scenery of the Marlborough region. This is a great way to spend a romantic weekend with your partner or a girls' weekend trip with your closest friends.
4. Escape the chill in the winterless north
If you want to escape the cold your best bet is to head to Northland, where things seem to be a tad warmer than the rest of the country. Tick Cape Reinga off your NZ bucket list, come face to face with the mighty Tāne Mahuta, sandboard down the Te Paki sand dunes, kayak around the Poor Knights Islands and wander the beautiful Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway. Enjoy a spot of fishing and watch the sun go down in the Bay of Islands, which is beautiful at any time of year. Take a day trip to Urupukapuka Island and discover the island's walking trails or cruise through the iconic "Hole in the Rock".
5. Soak up the sun at the top of the south
Abel Tasman might be New Zealand's smallest national park but it's the most popular - and for good reason. The sunnier climes in this part of the country make even those winter days truly magical. Walk part of the Abel Tasman Great Walk, kayak around Golden Bay and experience the gourmet foodie delights of the Nelson Tasman region.
6. See things from the air
You can experience some of New Zealand's most majestic winter landscapes and indulge yourself while you're at it by swapping your hiking boots, kayak or bicycle for a helicopter. Take a scenic flight over Milford Sound and land on one of the glaciers of the west coast, taking in the birds' eye views of all those snow-capped peaks along the way.
7. Stay at a luxury lodge
Lounging in luxury certainly makes one forget about that nip in the air. Book yourself a package at a five star lodge and immerse yourself in comfort. Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown, The Lodge Kauri Cliffs and The Farm Cape Kidnappers are just a few examples of luxurious accommodation you need to try out for yourself.
8. Soak in some hot pools
Our volcanic landscape is simply made to be enjoyed in winter! Spend some time soaking in the Instagram-famous Onsen Pools in Queenstown while admiring the scenic backdrop. If you're planning a trip to Christchurch, make sure you take a day trip to Hanmer Springs for some relaxation time. There are thermal pools for families and more intimate spaces for couples to enjoy. You can also combine your hot pools experience with stargazing at the Tekapo Springs Hot Pools.
What are you waiting for? Throw on those thermals, a warm jacket, and a beanie and get out and about. There's so much to explore, so find your nearest World Travellers store today to start planning your next winter adventure.