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Why you should explore New Zealand in winter
Winter in New Zealand can definitely bring crisp days and cool nights, but the climate is reasonably mild compared to many other parts of the world. New Zealand’s winter begins in June and ends in August, with daily temperatures averaging between 12-16°C, making it easier to explore by campervan without getting too chilly.
During the winter season, quiet mountain towns come alive with avid skiers and snowboarders, and the beautiful scenery becomes even more jaw-dropping with the dusting of winter snow. The South Island experiences heavier snows in the Otago and Canterbury regions, so make for exceptionally beautiful spots to explore, especially if you’re keen to get out on the slopes.
Travelling in winter allows you to beat the summer crowds and still experience all that this scenic country has on offer. With fewer people travelling during winter in New Zealand, you’ll have the pick of the bunch when it comes to campsites, holiday parks, and freedom camping spots.
The best way to travel around New Zealand
When you’re on a road trip through New Zealand, you’re never too far away from a spectacular view. Make the most of the scenery and hit the road in a campervan. Take advantage of the freedom and flexibility that motorhome holidays provide and follow the road wherever it takes you.
Our motorhomes are packed full with everything you need at your fingertips to make sure you can live comfortably on the road. Appreciate the spectacular views while staying warm with all of your home comforts in tow. Campervan holidays allow you to get off the beaten track to see and do more. It's also a great way to keep costs low. Save money on accommodation costs by travelling in your hotel on wheels and spend the money you save on some special New Zealand experiences.
Top 10 places to visit in winter
1. Cape Reinga
Sitting at the northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga is an incredible place to visit at any time of year. Known for its warmer climate, a trip to Northland during winter will transport you to a subtropical oasis and the warmest area of New Zealand during winter. Perfect for those who aren’t too keen on alpine adventure experiences. Head north from our Auckland branch to Cape Reinga and explore the winterless north to remove the winter chills!
Spend your time here exploring the never-ending paradise of Ninety Mile Beach as you watch the winter sunset down over one of the best surf breaks in the world. Dust off your walking shoes and take the short 800m stroll to the Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua Lighthouse and take in the incredible views. Explore Tapotupotu Bay, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Northland, before setting up camp for the night at Whatuwhiwhi Top 10 Holiday Park.
Under the rolling hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of underground caves systems intertwined with rivers and sinkholes. Head south from our Auckland branch to explore Waitomo and get up close and personal with the dazzling displays of glowworms who live within the caves. As a popular spot over summer and school holidays, take advantage of the quiet season during winter and beat the crowds.
Choose to take a walking or boat tour through the caves, or get your adrenaline pumping with the unique Black Water Rafting experiences where you can abseil or zipline through the dark caves. Although it might seem a bit too chilly to explore an underground cave system, you’ll be well dressed in a wetsuit to stay warm, and the experience you have will make up for it! However you choose to explore this dreamy destination, you’re bound to be entranced by the incredible nature that belongs here.
After an adventurous day, head to the Waitomo TOP10 Holiday Park to recharge.
Only a 2.5-hour drive from our Auckland branch, the Coromandel is an incredible place to explore during the winter season.
As a Kiwi favourite over summer, head to the Coromandel during winter and embrace the mild temperatures and quiet as you explore scenic beaches all to yourself, discover bush walks and embrace the incredible views. Spend a day relaxing in the geothermal pools of The Lost Spring, soaking away the hours and the slight winter frost you may be feeling. Another way to remove the chill but also embrace the sunshine is with a visit to Hot Water Beach. A New Zealand must do, embrace the thermal water below the surface of the sand at low tide and relax.
If the winter chill is too much for you to be exploring the outdoors, head to Paeroa and browse the collection of local boutiques and antique stores. Spend your evenings at the Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park.
Rotorua in winter comes alive into a hive of activity. Although the climate can be brisk, there is an abundance of experiences and activities that can warm you up. Head south from Auckland to Rotorua and brave the elements to experience the nature of Rotorua in all its glory.
Soak your stresses away and remove the winter chills as you unwind in the geothermal hot mineral waters sourced from natural springs at the Polynesian Spa. After a day of unwinding, rug up and head out to explore the iconic Redwoods Nightlights Treewalk. Taking 40 minutes, explore the illuminated 700-metre long forest walkway at this award-winning eco-tourism walk.
Stay at the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park and situate yourself close to the incredible mountain biking trails of the Whakarewarewa Forest.
5. Hawke’s Bay
With a Mediterranean climate throughout even the depths of winter, Hawke’s Bay is a sunseeker paradise. Even in winter, the temperatures are mild which makes for a perfect place to base yourself to embrace the abundance of outdoor activities available, like the epic cycling trails or outdoor walks. The closest maui branch to Hawke’s Bay is in Auckland, so enjoy an adventure touring the North Island making your way to this region.
Embrace the region of food and wine country that you’re in and discover winery experiences by enjoying a glass of wine and a platter at Craggy Range. Winter in Hawke’s Bay makes for the perfect opportunity to explore one of the many art galleries in the area or warm up inside by the fire with some incredible food at local restaurants. Be sure to head to Napier to admire the Art Deco architecture and browse the shops of Havelock North.
The Hastings TOP 10 Holiday Park is conveniently located to base yourself centrally to all the activities nearby.
Kaikōura in winter boasts beautifully clear, crisp days. The Kaikōura Ranges are dusted in a layer of snow and make for an incredibly picturesque setting.
Winter is the time of year when migratory whales pass through the seas, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of humpback whales up close. As well as wildlife adventures, be sure to sample some fresh local caught sustainable crayfish and seafood at Nins Bin to enjoy local flavours. Plan to stay at Kaikoura TOP 10 Holiday Park during your time here.
7. Hanmer Springs
The winter wonderland resort town of Hanmer Springs is a short 1-hour 40-minute drive from Christchurch. Known for its relaxing thermal pools and spa, spend your time here unwinding and defrosting your winter chills as the cooler alpine weather sets in. Book in a massage for the ultimate relaxation, or take the kids out for a thrill-seek on the hydro-slides.
Spend some time exploring the outdoors on one of the many forest walks, like Forest Amble Walk, before heading to Hanmer Springs TOP 10 for the night.
8. Lake Tekapo
There is no other place quite like Lake Tekapo during winter. Surrounded by the Southern Alps, covered in a thick dusting of snow, the sparkling waters of the lake make for a picturesque backdrop to all your South Island adventures.
Popular on the list of visitor attractions is the Tekapo Star Gazing experience. For the ultimate relaxation experience, enjoy the incredibly soothing combination of the striking Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, with soul-warming hot pools. If you’re looking to be pampered, even more, spend some time at the Tekapo Springs Day Spa and indulge in one or more of the various treatments on offer. Plan to stay at the Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park.
Wānaka is a magical place to visit no matter what time of year it is, but the cooler months can make it feel close to a winter wonderland. As a buzzing resort town, Wānaka offers plenty of opportunities for you to get out and about and embrace the alpine landscape. Spent some time skiing the slopes at Cardrona Alpine Resort before grabbing a bite to eat at one of New Zealand’s oldest and most iconic hotels, Cardrona Hotel.
Stay at the Wanaka TOP 10 Holiday Park, and spend some time in town browsing the many boutique stores as well as the shores of Lake Wānaka.
Situated on the edge of the striking Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is an incredible action-packed winter destination, perfect for all the active relaxers and thrill-seekers. If you’re a fan of snow sports, spend a day or two up Coronet Peak hitting the slopes on your skis or snowboard. If you’re a newbie, book a lesson to get some practice in.
Spend an afternoon soaking in the Onsen Hot Pools, overlooking the Shotover River. With a range of treatments to suit all your relaxation needs, embrace the tranquillity alongside breathtaking alpine views. Queenstown also plays host to an abundance of hospitality hotspots, so be sure to experience this on either a casual burger trip or fine dining experience before heading to your accommodation at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park.
Ready for your next New Zealand adventure?
From thrilling outdoor adventures to indulging in relaxing spa treatments, New Zealand plays host to an abundance of spectacular winter destinations perfect for exploring by motorhome. Start planning your winter adventure and book your maui motorhome today.