Winter in New Zealand, mountains come alive with skiers and snowboarders, and the crisp days are perfect for walking, cycling, and soaking in hot pools.
The best winter activities
New Zealand in winter is quieter, except for top ski destinations that become a hive of activity. If you’re wondering what you can do in winter, check out these top things to do.
The ski areas are in full swing, and the mountains of the Central Plateau, Canterbury, and Central Otago are blanketed with fresh snow. Snow enthusiasts should make a point of trying several different ski fields in Queenstown and Wanaka; there are four world-class ski fields within an hour and a half of each other. For a thrill, try heli-skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, or sledging.
Hiking in winter, New Zealand
Many popular hiking tracks in the North Island are ideal in winter. The majority of tracks are free from snow all year round, so you can still explore the great outdoors.
Note that the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is covered in snow during winter and is dangerous to attempt unless experienced and well-equipped. If you want to tackle this track in winter, the best option is to hire a mountaineering guide.
In Auckland, temperatures are mild and sunny days are common. It’s the perfect time of year to hike up Rangitoto – chances are you’ll have the dormant volcano all to yourself.
Relax in natural hot pools
New Zealand is home to some impressive, naturally heated hot pools. There’s nothing like soaking weary bodies at the end of a long day skiing or exploring.
Visit the Hawke’s Bay
In Hawke’s Bay, the cooler months are a time for delicious citrus fruits and hearty vegetables. Head to the Havelock North farmer’s market to make the most of locally grown, fresh produce.
Between June and July the Matariki festival is held throughout New Zealand. Matariki has always been an important time in the Māori calendar – strongly connected to the seasons, Matariki is a celebration of the upcoming year.
Christchurch and Queenstown come alive in winter, as both are close to world-class ski fields. Head to these cities to enjoy snow sports with a festive apres-ski afterward.
Ruapehu is the top skiing destination in the North Island, providing both thrilling slopes and epic views of Tongariro National Park.
Winter is also a great time to explore natural hot pools in the North Island. Rotorua and Taupō both have a range of natural hot springs where you can warm up and relax.
Travel tips for winter
Make the most of your winter holiday with these handy tips.
New Zealand is a year-round travel destination
Most attractions, activities, and locations are open all year in New Zealand. If you’re traveling during the cooler months, you don’t need to book ahead.
You can still enjoy many popular outdoor attractions in winter, with the added bonus of smaller crowds.
Winter is the best time for skiing
A world-class ski destination, New Zealand’s ski fields will be covered in a thick blanket of powdery snow from June to September. Head to Ruapehu, Canterbury, Queenstown, or Lake Wanaka for thrilling snow sport activities, but be sure to book accommodation, ski passes, and gear hires in advance.
In winter, road conditions can be dangerous, particularly in the South Island, where you might come across snow and black ice. If you’re planning a winter road trip or driving up to the ski slopes, make sure you’re familiar with our winter moving tips.