The New Zealand winter is a beautiful time to be touring the country, where you will be treated to gorgeous snow-capped vistas and heaps of things to see and do. There is something for everyone in New Zealand during wintertime: from shredding the powder on skis or a snowboard, to “chilling out” in the hot springs.
New Zealand travel and accommodation prices offer the best value during Winter. Rates are lower for just about everything, including campervan hire and hostel room stays.
At Seed Cash, the payday loans New Zealand specialists, we want you to know that a limited budget doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun and enjoy the best that New Zealand has to offer. Here are ten of the top things to do in New Zealand during the Winter which won’t break the bank.
1. Take a Road Trip
As we mentioned before, you can hire a campervan for about a fifth of what it costs in the summer months. Hostel rates are also a lot cheaper, so you don’t have to spend every night in a cramped campervan cabin.
Because winter travel isn’t so hard on the budget, you don’t have to plan every minute of your trip to cram in as much sightseeing as possible. Set a general direction and see where you end up.
2. Explore the Wildlife
The colder months are a great time to observe New Zealand’s wildlife. A few of the best places to do that include Rotorua’s Rainbow Springs, the Auckland Zoo, or Wellington’s Zealandia.
The Wild Dunedin NZ Festival of Nature is a popular attraction for people to explore nature via hands-on activities, exhibitions, nature walks, boat and canoe trips, movies, and wildlife observation. This year, 16,000 people took part in learning more about nature, and next year’s event is sure to be just as exciting.
You won’t be taking any of the Great Walks during the New Zealand winter, but Milford Sound is still accessible for enjoying New Zealand’s natural wonders. Winter means fewer people, less noise, and more views of the unique bird life which is most active during this time of year.
Prepare to have your breath taken away as you witness cliffs rising vertically from the water, view waterfalls cascading down from heights of 1,000 metres, and wildlife lounging on the shores of the fjord. Milford Sound looks like a playground for the gods, but its natural beauty is all thanks to a glacier which carved its way through the area during the ice ages.
If you’re enjoying a walking tour of Milford Sound, make sure to wear a good pair of boots, watch out for the slippery areas, and plan your trip because the daylight hours are a lot shorter in Winter.
3. Skiing and Snowboarding
A road trip via campervan (remember they are cheap during Winter) to one of the many ski locations around New Zealand is the best way to enjoy the powdered slopes. You can avoid the expensive ski resorts because you’ve got built-in accommodation, have a fridge full of food and drinks, and can spend the night at an affordable campground.
4. Whale Watching
These magnificent, peaceful giants are at the peak of their migrating period through June and July, and the best place to enjoy them is at Kaikoura. You are very likely to catch sight of a few different species during this time. Picton and Wellington are also popular locations for a spot of whale watching, and if you’re lucky, you may even witness the fantastic spectacle of a whale breaching.
5. Take in a Rugby Match
Rugby season is in full swing during New Zealand winters, and the New Zealand Lions Tour takes the team to many different locations during early June. You are likely to be sharing the venue with thousands of British and Irish Lion fans supporting their national teams as they also tour the country. If you don’t like crowds, you can still enjoy one of the many local rugby matches taking place throughout the winter months.
6. Enjoy the Winter Games
If you time your trip, you can spectate in the Winter Games NZ which is taking place through late August to early September in the Southern Alps. Entry is free, and there are live concerts and festivals provide entertainment alongside the championship.
7. Tour the Southern Islands
The southern island is gorgeous all year round, but the snow-capped peaks of the alpine ranges create inspiring vistas. Queenstown is particularly vibrant during Winter as are the lakeside towns such as Wanaka.
Lord of the Rings fans will feel immersed when they visit the film’s locations around Aoraki, Mount Cook, and Glenorchy, with the snow adding a touch of authenticity to the scene.
8. Winter Festivals
New Zealand is big on Winter, and there are many festivals you can enjoy, but the Queenstown Winter Festival is the biggest and brightest of them all. The Monteith’s Dog Derby is a not-to-be-missed attraction, and there is always a fantastic music line-up for festival-goers to enjoy.
The Wellington Jazz festival should be on the radar of Jazz Fans because 2019 has an exciting line-up including Herbie Hancock, Ghost-Note, Alicia Olatuja, and many others.
The Auckland Queen’s Birthday Races are a popular attraction with an exciting mix of fashion and horse-racing. You’ve just missed it for 2019, but 2020 promises to be just as glamorous.
9. Visit the Hot Springs
There’s nothing quite like a warm dip in a hot spring for an interesting contrast against the chill winter air.
The geothermal springs at Rotorua are famous for their steamy magnificence, but the South Island’s Hammer Springs are also worth a visit, and close to a ski field as well; perfect for warming your bones after a chilly day on the slopes.
Other thermal springs can be found at Tongariro, Taupo, and the Bay of Plenty’s White Island.
10. South Island Carnival and Lantern Parade
If you happen to find yourself in the Otago area in June, make sure you to extend your visit to after sundown so you can enjoy the Dunedin light festival. A parade starts at 5:00 and there is always live music, and local food stalls to help you celebrate the coming of the Winter Solstice.
You will see giant lanterns created in all shapes and sizes, elegant stilt walkers, gymnastics performers, large floating lanterns, and drummers and dancers contributing to the energy and fun. After the parade there are fireworks.
It’s a donation event so it’s great for those looking for something cheap to do that the whole family can enjoy.