The Ultimate Guide to New Zealand’s South Island in Winter

24 min

New Zealand South Island in Winter

As cliched as it’d sound, New Zealand is a winter wonderland. There are such a lot of issues you possibly can throughout New Zealand’s South Island in winter, it’s only a matter of selecting your desire.

The South Island is no doubt probably the most lovely in New Zealand, however throughout winter, most actions and cities decelerate supplying you with the chance to discover with out the fear of not discovering accomodation or getting a seat at a restaurant.

Winter is a particular time in New Zealand with Queenstown and Wanaka turning into the gateway to the slopes as sure produce turns into ripe for selecting.

New Zealand South Island in Winter

Issues to Do in New Zealand’s South Island in Winter

Though temperatures drop and the times get shorter, the South Island’s surroundings is pretty much as good because it ever with blue-bird days to drizzles of snow to finish white-outs, winter is a surprising time of the yr to get out and discover!

Snow Sports activities in New Zealand’s South Island

New Zealand is a mecca for snow sports activities with an enormous number of groomed slopes to gorgeous backcountry landscapes. The South Island comes alive throughout winter which spans from June to October, relying on the place you go.

There isn’t a scarcity of slopes to shred, it simply comes all the way down to which one and the place you wish to strap on the boots. What makes the South Island so good for snowboarding and snowboarding is that the whole lot is so shut collectively.

You possibly can board a morning session on Coronet Peak and end the day on The Remarkables, it’s simply the proper place to spend your winter days whereas in New Zealand.

Coronet Peak

Located between Queenstown and Arrowtown, Coronet Peak is the proper place to begin your break day within the snow.

With a number of the finest groomed runs in New Zealand, Coronet Peak is the place to go if you wish to take it straightforward whereas having fun with spectacular views of the Southern Alps and the rolling inexperienced hills of Queenstown.

Take a look at our information to one of the best things to do in Queenstown.

Treble Cone

Treble Cone is located solely an hours drive from Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park close to Wanaka. Those that head to Treble Cone search extra technical runs whereas runs are a lot steeper.

Treble Cone takes the cake for one of the best surroundings as Lake Wanaka, Roys Peak and Mount Aspiring are all seen from the gorgeous ski fields of Treble Cone.


Solely a 45 minute drive out of Wanaka is Cardrona and roughly the identical from Queenstown. Cardrona is ideal for individuals who love a problem with a snowboard park and plenty of excessive runs.

Cardrona can also be fairly chilled out for individuals who wish to espace the chaos of Coronet and the Remarkables.

Don’t miss our full information to one of the best things to do in Wanaka.

Queenstown’s well-known mountain backdrop is world well-known and for good causes, however do you know that snowboarding and snowboarding is completely doable up there?

The Remarkables identified to most as ‘The Remarks’ is a fruits of groomed runs and terrain parks located below Double Cone Peak. The Remarks are solely a 30 minute drive from the centre of Queenstown making it good for a day trip on the slopes.

Mt Hutt

While you consider Christchurch, you is likely to be pondering purely of coastal vibes, farm land and good meals? Only one.5 hours drive west from Christchurch, Mt Hutt ski subject is at your step. Mt Hutt has the whole lot from bunny hills to skilled ski runs…

Temple Basin

Excessive up on the Arthur’s Go, Temple Basin might look to be in an oddly unusual place nevertheless it actually couldn’t be anymore scenic than this with Mount Rolleston instantly throughout the valley.

Temple Basin is a quiet ski subject however that provides you extra space to your self as most head to the extra accessible Mt Hutt.

New Zealand's South Island in Winter

New Zealand’s superb mountains are much more epic in winter!

Meals & Wine

If it’s not snowboarding and snowboarding, its wine to get pleasure from in New Zealand’s South Island in winter. New Zealand has a number of the most well-known vineyards within the Southern Hemisphere and the wine itself is simply so scrumptious!

So the arduous half is selecting the place you wish to go wine tasting.

Winter on the South Island brings issues down a number of notches by way of crowds so in case you get pleasure from a fairly wine, there are many locations to select from so I’ve listed one of the best wine areas on the South Island.


Malborough Area

Inside vary of Abel Tasman National Park, a mecca for mountain climbing and kayaking comes the gorgeous Malborough wine area.

The Malborough area is just not solely one of the vital well-known wine areas in New Zealand however most likely on this planet and in shut proximity to Christchurch and Wellington. One factor that wont allow you to down is alternative of which cellar and winery to go to.

The Malborough area has over 600 particular person growers who largely develop Sauvignon Blanc grapes with varied different grapes grown to provide a plethora of choices to maintain you tasting all day lengthy.

Like most areas in New Zealand, the Malborough area provides a number of the best meals and most of it may be eaten at cellar doorways accompanying the vineyards.

Kawarau Gorge

From the slopes of The Remarkables ragged but lovely Kawarau Gorge is a wine drinkers paradise. I can not consider a extra lovely place on the South Island to go wine tasting.

One second you may be shredding the slopes of the Southern Alps and the following you possibly can be bundled up subsequent to a hearth consuming a few of New Zealand’s most valuable wines.

Kawarua Gorge is a brief 30 minute drive from the centre of Queenstown heading in the direction of Cromwell and Wanaka.


The South Island is actually a spot for foodies from vegetarian to the whole lot in between. The additional you sway from the cities, the higher the produce will get.

Having travelled to New Zealand 4 instances, I’ve had a reasonably good likelihood to pattern a number of the finer meals on provide starting from market meals to restaurant meals and listed here are one of the best locations to getting probably the most salivating meals on the South Island.


The local weather in Motueka and surrounds is simply unreal contemplating the place it’s located. Motueka is correct on the tip of the Southern Alps and proper subsequent to Tasman Bay.

Motueka recieves simply the proper quantity of rain and sunshine making it among the finest locations to develop fruit, greens, dairy and a provide of seafoods.

To actually pattern Motueka’s best produce the Motueka Sunday Markets provide an array of regionally grown meals, wines and treats.

Central Otago

The Central Otago area is a haven for meals at the exact opposite finish of the island in comparison with Motueka. There actually is not any particular city in reality it’s the entire space that produces a considerable amount of New Zealand’s fruit provide with cherries, apricots, peaches, apples to call one or two.

It could possibly get fairly chilly within the Otago particularly on a winters day and the proper repair is a beautiful pie from one of many oldest bakeries in New Zealand, Jimmie’s Pies positioned in Roxburgh. The best choice is an natural apricot and hen pie, yum!


It’s actually arduous to consider, however Akaroa is just a Three hour flight from my residence in Sydney, Australia and I’m in foodie heaven! Akaroa is extra than simply being a really chilled out place for browsing, rise up paddle boarding and mountain climbing, meals is an enormous factor right here for such a small place.

Akaroa is closely influenced by France because of an early try at French settlement upon its shores with no success leaving traces of French historical past amongst this particular city.

Alongside Akaroa’s important avenue, there are such a lot of locations that every one have a really French really feel to them with bakeries, cafes and eating places dotted in every single place you see.

Seafood on the Banks Peninsula can also be a number of the finest on the South Island and may usually be sampled at native pubs or supermarkets.

If you wish to get a espresso repair, you’ll have zero issues doing so in Akaroa because the scent of roasted beans wafts down the principle avenue.

Bluff is the furthest place south you possibly can go on the South Island with out driving into the Tasman Sea. Bluff is famend for itss oysters and to have a good time this scrumptious delicacies, a competition is held firstly of winter.

The Bluff Oyster & Meals Pageant is without doubt one of the finest meals festivals within the nation, so in case you occur to be adventuring round The Catlins, Fiordland or Rakiura get to this competition ASAP!

Akaroa New Zealand

Beautiful Akaroa.

South Island Highway Journeys in Winer

Winter street journeys in New Zealand may be simply as enjoyable as summer season street journeys! Why may you be asking?

New Zealand roads within the winter are a lot quieter with much less buses, automobiles and motorhomes making it simpler so that you can get from one place to a different, other than Queenstown the place it’s busy all yr spherical.

Relying on the airport you fly into, there can be many decisions on the place to go and what to see.

Lindis Pass New Zealand South Island Winter

The Lindis Go

Highway Journeys from Queenstown

From Queenstown there are simply so many choices on the place to go so for the beginning of your street journey, base your self in Queenstown for the primary Four days. This offers you a chance to discover Milford Sound, Glenorchy, Central Otago and even the Catlins.

After Queenstown, head to Wanaka by way of Arrowtown and Cardrona over the Crown Go and make technique to Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park the place Rob Roy Glacier may be hiked to.

Wanaka to Haast is without doubt one of the finest and most scenic drives within the South Island with a number of places to cease and go to waterfalls reminiscent of Thunder Creek Falls, Roaring Billy Falls and Fantail Falls.

When you get onto the West Coast, landscapes drastically change as you exit the gorgeous Southern Alps. There are occasions the place you possibly can catch glimpses of The Tasman Sea and different instances you’ll be driving by infinite stretches of street which weaves and winds by lush native forests.

Knights Level Lookout is implausible for 180 diploma views of the rugged West Coast.

Fox and Franz Josef Glacier are one of many important causes for guests on the decrease West Coast because the Westland Tai Poutini Nationwide Park stays to be one of the vital rugged, untouched landscapes in New Zealand.

The Southern Alps tower above to over 3,000 metres creating huge slopes and mountains of native forests, glacial rivers and the enduring Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier which is separated by a 30 minute drive which means each may be visited in someday alone.

North of Franz Josef Glacier, the street continues by the sleepy farming cities of Whataroa and Hari Hari adopted by the coastal city of Hokitika which is known for its driftwood and greenstone.

When you get to Kumara Junction, there are two decisions on which street to take. There’s Arthur’s Go which is without doubt one of the most scenic mountain passes on the South Island.

Or you possibly can proceed to drive up the West Coast to Punakaiki and find yourself in Kahurangi Nationwide Park or Abel Tasman Nationwide Park. So we’ve got two choices so listed here are each!

Arthur’s Go connects the West Coast to Canterbury by way of the unusual however lovely city of Otira, the place theres a pub there with a extremely large statue of Gandalf and a dragon.

Otira onwards, you begin the drive alongside the banks of the Otira River to the Otira Viaduct Lookout which is severely a formidable piece of engineering given its location.

Kea are fairly frequent across the city of Arthur’s Go particularly at Devils Punchbowl Waterfall so make sure you go on the quick hike which leads from the close by city, however don’t let your fingers get close to them as they pack a punch with their beak!

The remainder of the drive takes you previous Craigieburn Forest Park the place snowcapped peaks are in every single place you look adopted by Fort Hill is definitely a scene from The Chronicles of Narnia. From Springfield, the drive to Christchurch takes about 1 hour.

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Beautiful mountain climbing path close to Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner.

Flying into Christchurch

Flying into Christchurch definitely has its advantages if you’re a seashore form of individual and even in case you love the mountains, the whole lot is so near Christchurch in reality you possibly can see snowcapped peaks from many streets of Christchurch.

Deciding which technique to go may be fairly a dilemma, however to not fear, I’ve all of it sorted. Get your engine began and cruise on to the mountain city of Methven which is in shut proximity to Mt Hutt Ski Resort.

Maintaining the mountain theme alive it’s time to go to Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner by way of Lake Tekapo which is known for its lakeside church, you’ll discover out why while you see a number of the photographs taken there.

The drive to Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner Village is roughly 2 hours by way of the sting of Lake Pukaki which is without doubt one of the most gorgeous drives when the climate is evident.

Southern Alps New Zealand

Beautiful Southern Alps surroundings.

As soon as in  Mount Prepare dinner Village, there are a large number of walks and treks to undertake such because the Hooker Valley Stroll, Tasman Glacier Stroll and the Sealy Tarns Lookout stroll.

Onwards to Twizel and the gorgeous panorama of Lindis Go brings you to Tarras, Cromwell and onto Alexandra. To expertise Central Otago, take freeway eight alongside the Clutha River.

Dunedin is without doubt one of the most unusual cities in New Zealand by way of its heritage and structure and its shut proximity to the Otago Peninsula which is simply magical. I’d extremely advise doing the Sandymount Reserve hike for gorgeous views over the hills and coastlines of the Otago Peninsula.

Christchurch Mountains

Mountains are solely 90 minutes from the guts of Christchurch.

The Northern Choice

One other implausible possibility if you’re based mostly in Christchurch is the street north. Kaikoura is 2 hours north of Christchurch and provides a number of the most unusual views on the South Island with pristine seashores, seal colonies backed by the Kaikoura Ranges.

Kaikoura presents the chance to swim with wild dolphins, hang around with wild seals or the chance to go mountain climbing to Fyfe Mountain or larger within the Kaikoura Ranges.

Additional north is Blenheim which is a beautiful wine area simply inland from the Prepare dinner Strait. Blenheim is the gateway to the Malbourough wine area the place 148 wineries are based mostly within the Wairau Valley, so there’s all the time a reasonably good likelihood you’ll discover a drop that you simply want whereas in Blenheim.

Picton lies simply past Blenheim to the north and is thought to most because the port city which ferries you from island to island nevertheless there are some things that you are able to do in Picton apart from leaping on a ferry and fleeing north.

Picton is one of the simplest ways to exploring the Queen Charlotte Sound and the hike generally known as the Queen Charlotte Observe which may be hiked right now of yr because of the a lot calmer climate circumstances on the high of the South Island. The Queen Charlotte Observe begins at Ship Cove.

Picton to Nelson is about 1.5 hours drive by a number of mountainous and forested areas. Nelson is a captivating seaside city undoubtedly price no less than 2 days to discover.

Nelson onwards you possibly can choose to drive to Motueka and on to Marahua which is one of the best place to lease a kayak or begin the Abel Tasman Coastal Observe. Freeway 60 heads straight as much as Collingwood the place Golden Bay and Cape Farewell may be explored from.

New Zealand South Island Winter

New Zealand in an image.

Finest Winter Cities in New Zealand’s South Island

Winter within the South Island, New Zealand usually makes quite a lot of the smaller cities sluggish proper down which generally is a good factor with much less crowds, higher parking and cheaper accomodation.

There’s simply one thing about New Zealand cities within the winter particularly people who have gorgeous mountain backdrops. Right here’s a listing of one of the best cities to go to throughout winter in New Zealand.


Not removed from the hustle of Queenstown and a 20-minute drive from Coronet Peak, Arrowtown is ideal for escaping the generally loopy Queenstown, and you are able to do so by heading in for a scrumptious lunch or late afternoon drink at locations just like the Fork and Faucet or the array of bakeries that Arrowtown has.

Arrowtown’s wealthy historical past with gold makes this city a price whereas go to with an eerie backdrop of conifers and snowcapped peaks.

Fox Glacier Township

Fox probably has one of the best backdrop in the entire of New Zealand with lush forest coated mountains solely a brief flight from the peaks of Mount Tasman and Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner.

Fox is a smaller, quieter model of Franz Josef and doubtlessly lots higher with a pleasant group of locals, cafes and an all spherical good vibe which is sort of a pleasant place to go to in the course of the winter months.


Glenorchy in winter, in reality any time of yr, will get the award for finest city in New Zealand. Glenorchy is simply magical and the additional you drive alongside the sides of the Richardson Mountains, the extra you might be taken away by the by no means ending scene of mountains, rivers and forests.

Glenorchy principally is the city that nobody is aware of about and its just one.5 hours out of Queenstown.


Motueka is the place to go while you simply don’t wish to be within the chilly. Motueka’s place on the map provides it good climate all yr spherical and the possibilities of getting frost chew are fairly slim as the nice and cozy climate simply retains on preserving on.


90 minutes from Christchurch is the small ski city of Methven. Though Methven isn’t fairly located amongst the mountains, it’s fairly rattling shut with solely a 25 minute drive to the slopes of Mt Hutt.

Methven has a knack for naming its pubs after colors with the Brown Pub and the Blue Pub which are sometimes filled with skiers and snowboarders after an extended day of shredding up on the slopes of Mt Hutt.

If you’re heading south to Queenstown or Wanaka by way of the inland scenic route, Methven will nearly assure to have a mattress for you.

Little Akaloa

If Christchurch doesn’t do it for you, why not head out onto the Banks Peninsula to discover a number of the little seaside cities reminiscent of Little Akaloa and Akaroa solely 2 hours drive from the guts of Christchurch.

Little Akaloa doesn’t provide a lot by way of cafes and eating places nevertheless it does provide fairly seashores surrounded by rolling inexperienced hills.

It’s the good place to regather your ideas or the proper place for a peaceable swim among the many protected bay.

Oban (Stewart Island)

Oban is sort of a distance from the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps however generally it’s okay to vary issues up. Oban is the principle city positioned on Raikiura (Stewart Island) and is thought for being a fairly fishing city with solely a small inhabitants of individuals dwelling there.

It is without doubt one of the furthest locations you possibly can go south which requires crossing the tough Foveaux Straight by ferry however as soon as you might be there you’ll see why it’s a should go to.

Oban is common for recognizing Kiwi’s (the fowl) and likewise a fantastic place for recognizing the Aurora Australis (southern lights).

MacDonald Lake

MacDonald Lake throughout dawn.

Finest Brief Winter Hikes

Lots of huts in the course of the winter months turn into inaccessible until you might be geared up with the fitting gear to entry them reminiscent of crampons.

Mountain climbing in winter is frequent within the South Island and may be fairly breathtaking with recent coatings of snow amongst rugged peaks.

A lot of New Zealand’s Nationwide Parks no less than have 1 or 2 hikes open in the course of the winter. Tracks and trails turn into much less crowded supplying you with the chance to get pleasure from your surrounds with out the trouble of being round different folks.

Hooker Valley Glacier Stroll

  • Distance: eight kilometres
  • Begin / End: Whitehorse Campground
  • Time: Four to five hours return
  • Problem: Simple to average

By far one of the best straightforward hike you are able to do in Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner Nationwide Park with out it being too strenuous. This Four ½ return monitor takes you to the foothills of the three,000 metre large Mount Sefton because it weaves and winds its manner alongside the Hooker River which requires varied swing bridge crossings.

On the midway level of the path, be rewarded with gorgeous views of Hooker Glacier Lake, usually crammed with chunks of ice that has cracked off the Hooker Glacier whereas Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner turns into the centre piece to the panorama.

Kaikoura Peninsula

  • Distance: eight kilometres return
  • Begin / End: Kaikoura Peninsula Carpark
  • Time: (varied ending factors)
  • 10 minutes to Lookout Level
  • 45 minutes return to Whalers Bay Lookout
  • 1 ¼ hours return to South Bay Lookout
  • 1 ¾ hours return to South Bay
  • Problem: Simple

Kaikoura hosts a number of the finest views alongside the east coast of the South Island which for some brings again reminiscences of mountain climbing coastal components of Eire.

Views of the Kaikoura Ranges are breathtaking in addition to the views proper all the way down to Goose Bay and past the escarpment of the seabound cliffs to the north. The stroll begins on the Seal Colony direct from the carpark.

Lake Matheson

  • Distance: 5 kilometres
  • Begin / End: Café, 5 kilometres west of Fox Glacier township
  • Time: 1 to 1 ½ hours
  • Problem: Simple

Lake Matheson is probably the preferred stroll on the West Coast of New Zealand and is open all yr spherical. Solely taking 1.5 hours, the stroll round Lake Matheson is a mixture of trails by dense forest with a viewing wharf that usually displays the mountains of Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner and Mount Tasman.

Devils Punchbowl

  • Distance: 5 kilometres return
  • Begin / End: Arthur’s Go township
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Problem: Simple

This gorgeous hike is positioned on the backside of Arthur’s Go and is a spot the place Kea are generally noticed frolicking round. Devils Punchbowl is a formidable 131 waterfall that consists of a shear drop into the abyss beneath.

Fort Hill / Kura Tawhiti

  • Distance – No set distance
  • Begin/ End – Fort Hill 55km east of Arthur’s Go
  • Time – at personal tempo
  • Problem – Simple to average

If you’re driving from the West Coast to Christchurch by way of Arthur’s Go, there’s a very good likelihood you’ll discover a hill coated in a large number of rock formations which might be well-known for being a set on The Chronicles of Narnia film.

The rocks are extraordinarily weathered because of them being composed of limestone. There isn’t a set strolling monitor so be happy to go at your personal tempo or wander the place you want.

Aoraki Mount Cook Winter

Mountain climbing in the direction of Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner.

What else is on within the South Island throughout Winter?

The Queenstown Winter Festival is a complete lot of freezing chilly enjoyable and as you most likely guessed, based mostly within the journey and adrenaline capital of New Zealand, Queenstown.

Occasions held on the winter competition may be pretty loopy with daring swims in Lake Wakatipu, canine sled races on Coronet Peak to music being performed dwell on a stadium with the Remarkables as a backdrop.

Stargazing may be an all yr spherical factor however throughout winter, evening skies are typically lots clearer making it good for stargazing and astrophotography.

Probably the greatest places to go stargazing is Aoraki Mount Prepare dinner Nationwide Park as it’s located in a Darkish Sky Reserve the place there are strict limitations to infrastructure inflicting gentle air pollution.

It’s a really large reserve coming in at 4,300 sq. kilometres so there can be no scarcity of locations to cease and benefit from the superb Milky Means.

I hope you loved my information to exploring New Zealand’s South Island in winter. Did I miss something? Have any suggestions? Go away a remark beneath and let me know.

Calumn Hockey

Began travelling in 2010, to this point reaching the paths of the Higher Mustang, Nepal, scaled Mount Ollivier, New Zealand (first ascent of Sir Edmund Hillary), obtained sizzling chilli in my eye in Vietnam, chased by a pack of untamed monkeys in Singapore, stupidly climbed the Eiffel Tower, France in shorts and a shirt whereas it was raining and 6 levels whereas in Venice, Italy I managed to get misplaced with a purpose to get discovered whereas in Central Australia my finest associates had been camels.My ardour burns for tradition and exploration as I’d say “I believe I’m fairly prepared for one more journey”. Examine all of it our on my photography website and Instagram.

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