Best New Zealand Winter Holidays.
New Zealand offers a variety of ways to enjoy a winter getaway.
If you seek to escape the city and enjoy a quieter countryside, go on an adventure, feast on good eats, and see a different side of New Zealand, check out some of our favorite winter destinations. Even though there’s a chill in the air, winter is still a great time to get outdoors.
Foodies will love the various Farmer’s Markets and tucked-away local eateries. Wine lovers can sip wine in cosy tasting rooms while enjoying expansive vineyard views. Wildlife enthusiasts can go on whale-watching tours. Of course, there are snow-capped mountains for those seeking winter sports fun. Several of our favorite places to visit in New Zealand during winter have natural hot pools, the perfect way to relax after a fun winter’s day.
It’s easy to imagine a perfect itinerary in Hawkes Bay. This subtropical location offers a relatively warm and dry environment for your winter getaway. During winter, the average high is 14 degrees Celsius, the average low is 5 degrees Celsius. You won’t have many frosty days, but you can enjoy cool, crisp mornings with dazzling blue skies.
Hawkes Bay has fabulous options for enjoying wine culture and exploring the cute towns of Napier, Havelock, and Hastings. You might not want to take a polar bear plunge in the bay, but you will love strolling the beach and enjoying the area’s dramatic scenery. If you’re looking to add winter sports to your getaway, it’s about three hours to Mount Ruapehu, where world-class skiing and snowboarding await.
After the devasting earthquake of 1931, Napier rebuilt in stunning Art Deco style. Get your camera ready and admire the fabulous architecture. Take a self-guided tour of the 49 sea wall murals scattered throughout the city. Visiting the National Aquarium of New Zealand is the perfect way to spend a day indoors learning about New Zealand’s native wildlife. Don’t miss the popular Penguin Cove!
Discover one of New Zealand’s largest Pā sites at Ōtātara Pā Historic Reserve. Visitors can see terrace remnants and imagine the lives of New Zealand’s first people.
The Farmer’s Market in Havelock is a popular place to taste the season’s fresh fruits and vegetables. Havelock is known as the Greenshell Mussell Capital of the World. Havelock provides a perfect base for a day cruise on the Marlborough Sound. The sound is calm and peaceful in winter, making it a wonderful season to enjoy wildlife watching on the water.
The lovely town of Hastings provides the perfect stop for touring the Hawkes Bay Wine Region. Visitors can enjoy dramatic vineyard views while tasting unique wines in cozy tasting rooms. There are over 30 cellar doors to explore. Bicyclists will love the Hastings iWay Loop and connecting to the Hawke’s Bay Trails route.
There’s something about winter that encourages a focus on good food. Maybe it’s the thought of hibernating animals stocking up before the long winter, or maybe there’s just something comforting about a hot meal on a cool day.
Matakana is about an hour north of Auckland and provides a wonderful getaway, especially for the culinary-inclined. Start at the Saturday Farmers Market and stock up on farm-fresh goodies, including artisan cheese, fresh produce, and craft beer. The Farmer’s Market also sells ready-to-eat food so you can enjoy a fabulous brunch with crepes or steaming hot, fresh from the river mussels.
Matakana Village has art galleries, clothing boutiques, gift shops, and fabulous eateries. Nearby beaches offer a fantastic opportunity for an after-lunch stroll.
This area is also famous for wine. You’ll find Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and merlot. The local vineyards also offer gourmet lunches with intoxicating views.
Central Otago is an adventure seeker’s paradise. Get outdoors and enjoy skiing, or grab your bike and take the family on the Otago Central Rail Trail.
Wanaka is a winter wonderland. Those seeking fun in the snow will find three fantastic ski resorts. Check out Cardrona Alpine Resort, Soho Basin, and Treble Cone. At Snow Farm, guests can go cross-country skiing or make snowmen and throw snowballs in the Snow Fun Zone.
Winter brings calm weather and gorgeous photo opportunities of the mountains and lake. Even if you don’t want to ski, everyone enjoys apres ski with hearty food and craft brews.
Saint Bathans is a quaint and quiet town that will relax your soul. This town bustled with people during the Gold Rush, but today, its treasure is its quiet scenery. The gorgeous Blue Lake has a walking track around it, offering a view of the rocky landscape.
Rotorua is the quintessential New Zealand winter getaway. Enjoy outdoor adventures and then warm up in a natural hot pool at the end of the day. Rotorua provides the perfect mix of outdoor fun and city attractions.
Rotorua is known as one of the world’s best destinations for mountain biking. With over 100 kilometers of mountain bike trails, there’s no need to stay stationary. Enjoy the Whakarewarewa Forest or check out the varied road cycling trails. The scenery and trails in Rotorua are unbeatable.
If you prefer a more sedate adventure, talk a walk through the Redwood Forest, or around Lake Rotorua.
Check out Eat Street and discover Rotorua’s culinary delights. Eat Street is a covered street with a thermally heated footpath, so you’ll start warming up even before you savor a hot coffee and scone.
Rotorua offers a plethora of naturally heated pools. Choose a different one each night and relax while swapping stories from the day’s adventure.
Winter is the best season to see whales, and Kaikōura is one of the best places to visit for a whale-watching tour. The coast is home to sperm whales year-round. Humpback whales migrate during the winter and are often seen between June and August. While whales might be the stars of whale-watching tours, guests often see various seals, dolphins, and birdlife.
Hanmer Springs loves winter so much, they celebrate with a month-long Winter Festival. Visit in July and take part in a Masquerade Ball, ice skating, and a yoga retreat. Enjoy Christmas in July with a festive lights competition.
This alpine town welcomes skiers, and even non-skiers will love the spectacular mountain views. Try a round of golf and check out the area’s eateries. One of Hamner’s Springs draws is their indulgent thermal pools. There’s nothing like a natural hot pool on a cool winter’s day.
View our Hanmer Springs accommodation options by clicking here.
Explore the Best Places To Visit In New Zealand During Winter
There’s so much to do and see in New Zealand during winter; you might need to extend your holiday. Wherever you visit, your Bachcare home away from home will keep you cosy and warm.