For many of us the dark and gloomy days of winter can get a bit much. The clocks get turned back and we all but go into hibernation. We look for a pricey tropical escape because domestic holidays are completely out of the question of course. Or are they?
Winter enjoyment needn’t be reserved solely for ski bunnies and ducks. New Zealand is full of natural beauty and activities unaffected by the weather. The old winter holiday stereotype of shivering away over a game of cards in a leaky tent needs to be bucked once and for all. So let’s take a look at a couple of NZ regions with warm and cozy roofed accommodation and year-round activities to suit everyone.
Get Hot and Steamy in Rotorua and Taupo
Situated in the middle of the North Island, Taupo and Rotorua are just an hour’s drive apart. Both are set on eponymous lakes making for scenery that’s second to none, and both keep visitors warm with geothermal activity.
Maori Culture, Relaxation and Exhilaration in Rotorua
Rotorua boasts bubbling mud pools and geysers like the impressive 30-metre tall Pohutu Geyser. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the world’s youngest geothermal system, so don’t forget your Kiwi Card for a discount.
Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village showcases Maori culture including Hangi (traditional meal) and flax weaving.
The geothermal Hells Gate is the ticket for relaxation. Think mud bath spa, a twilight spa or a therapeutic massage.
If two wheels are your thing, look no further than the world-renowned Redwoods mountain-bike trail system in the Whakarewarewa Forest.
Each day can end with a lovely soak in the free thermal hot pools at Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park, before chilling out in the warm and dry modern motel units or en-suite log cabins.
Taupo On A Rainy Day
Maori NZ artwork and carvings can be marvelled at during a visit to the Taupo Museum and Art Gallery.
The geothermally heated AC Baths are popular with the kids, while the adult-only Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa offers the ultimate in rest and relaxation.
The region’s volcanic history is on show at the Volcanic Activity Centre (within Wairakei Tourist Park) with interactive displays and an earthquake simulator.
Queenstown and Wanaka – So Much More Than Skiing
Breathtaking natural beauty at the bottom of the Southern Alps, world-famous mountain biking, a party vibe and a high concentration of ski fields… this is most people’s idea of Queenstown and Wanaka. But what else does the jewel of the south have to offer in winter?
Wanaka is a town in its own right with permanent residents, so it is home to ample indoor attractions designed to entertainment both locals and curious tourists of all ages. Some of these include Puzzling World – a mind-bending blend of bizarre buildings, illusion rooms and the Great Maze; the National Transport and Toy Museum; and Cinema Paradiso for a rather unique movie-going experience.
And just over the Crown Range is Arrowtown (Chinese Settlement and Lakes District Museum) and Queenstown (Underwater Observatory, live escape games at Escape Quest, indoor ice skating and an undercover Kiwi Birdlife Park).
Getting Cracking Before The Ice Does
If you’re a New Zealand resident, hopefully this has helped inform or remind you about some of the fun and educational winter holiday excursions our great country has to offer. If you’re thinking about visiting NZ, this is just a taste of a winter wonderland that is sure to give you the warm and fuzzies. So what are you waiting for, pack your bags and book your winter break now.