7 Reasons to Trade Your Northern Summer for a New Zealand Winter
1. You’ll have the whole damn country basically to yourself.
My memories from many summers in the States take me back to long lines at amusement parks, crowded National Parks, and beaches swarming with people as far as the eye can see. All of the activities offered in New Zealand in the summertime are still a go in the winter, but you’ll likely not see a crowd or a queue. Think bonfires on empty beaches, bungy jumping, jet boats, whitewater rafting, epic mountain hikes, and more sightseeing than you could ever dream, without a soul around to photobomb your amazing pictures.
2. It’s actually not that cold here.
New Zealand is a country composed of two main islands, the north, and south. The North Island’s average temperature in the winter is somewhere between 60-70 degrees (F), while the South Island is a bit chillier with an average temp of 50-60 degrees. I’ve been working at Cardrona ski field, and it is a lot different than the states. We have to drive 13 kilometers up to the top of a mountain to get to the snow because it barely ever actually snows in town. Winter is more like fall, really, with the option of ‘going to the snow’ or just leaving it up on the mountains if you’re not into it. Most days you can get by in town with just a fleece or a hoodie on.
3. That being said, the snow is actually a really good reason to come here!
Just a short drive from Queenstown and Wanaka are the Remarkables ski field, Coronet Peak (the only ski field that offers night skiing!), Cardrona (where Teryn works!), Treblecone, and Ohau. There’s terrain for everyone on the mountains, and if you can afford it, there some absolutely incredible heli-skiing/boarding trips going out every single day. They really love their snow here, and they do a lot with what they get.
4. The night sky is INSANE down here.
Astrophotographers flock in droves to New Zealand for the magic that comes out every night. The South Island is home to the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, the largest of its kind in the world. The reserve is rated gold level, meaning it is virtually 100% free from light pollution. Head out to the Mount John Observatory to make yourself feel really, really small by getting lost in the vast, starry expanse.
5. Everyone slashes their prices in the winter.
Broke backpacker on a shoestring budget? Basically livin’ on a prayer? We feel you. Sights like Book Me www.bookme.co.nz have deals ranging from 10-99% off various adventures and activities, and you can search for deals by region. The other day they were selling Shotover Jet Boat trips for ONE DOLLAR. Jump on those deals! Rent a campervan for half off and enjoy a proper New Zealand roadie.
6. Geothermal wonders are all over the place!
Who needs a hot tub when you’re in a country with 107 hot pools and hot springs? On the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula you can even visit Hot Water Beach, where you can grab a shovel (or spade, as they say here) and dig yourself your own personal hot tub right in the sand in the hours surrounding the low tide. Hot water bubbles straight up through the sand thanks to geothermic activity under the beach.
7. There is plenty of work if you’re on a working holiday.
If you come here with the idea of both traveling and working a bit like we did, the ski towns on the South Island come alive in the winter, and you should be able to secure something to fund your next adventure. Get to town a few weeks early to find housing and apply online a few months early for any on-mountain jobs.
If you’re still not convinced, sorry, we’re not sorry. It would be sad to see a ton of people catch wind of one of the earth’s best kept secrets anyhow. (Ahem, Colorado.)
However, if you’ve always wanted to see how they live on the bottom of the world, winter is the time to do it!
I’m going to go remedy my sore snowboarding legs with some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and watch the sunset over the snowcapped peaks outside of my window.
Ya’ll just let me know if you want to know any more than 7 reasons to get down here!
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