Four Winter Wonderland Getaways in New Zealand

The arrival of winter and its decreased sunshine, cold winds and periodic snowfall is enough to sap the energy of just about anyone. But the coldest season of the year doesn’t have to be all gloom for the average Kiwi, as New Zealand boasts many fantastic wintertime retreats, from the fun and whimsical to the breathtaking and beautiful! Skiing isn’t the only thing you can do in New Zealand’s snow, but it is definitely a huge draw. The Ski seasons in New Zealand usually starts sometime in June, so make sure that you’re gonna be at the mountains when there is, in fact, snow!

Mt. Cook

If you’ve never visited Mt. Cook National Park, you are in for a treat of snow topped mountain peaks, including that of the highest mountain, Aoraki-Mount Cook. Start by checking in at the accommodations of your choice, but try to find good reviews within your price range before you leave. There are going to be self-contained motels, budget lodging, chalets and luxury hotels while you’re staying in Mt Cook. If you’re just in town for the wonderland feature, get a chalet and kick it by the fire whilst drinking cocoa. However, if you’re here to ski and/or snowboard, there are a few options available in the neighbourhood. If you’re here with the family, Mt Dobson or the Ohau Range are perfect choises. However, if your kids are better than you or they simply don’t exist, please, make use of some of the best Heli Skiing opportunities in the world. They will fly you basically anywhere that other people have skied before, provided you’re willing to prove your level of skill. There are literally thousands of square kilometers of relatively unskied terrain that open up when you have a helicopter.

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs offers a great skiing venue during winter season. If you’re planning on being in town for at least a week, you might consider a home-away-from-home experience and rent a vacation rental. Unpack your clothes and pretend it’s yours as you look through the window at the views of St. James Lake or the Leslie Hills. Be sure to make time for a dip in the world famous Hanmer Springs thermal pools. Combined with the cold weather, the heat of the pools is the raddest thing. You will quickly immerse yourself in the small village life and take it in; pretend you live there and relax while you’re there.

Treble Cone

If you are looking for the ultimate ski experience for the winter escape, look no further than Treble Cone on the South Island. The family will enjoy skiing, snowboarding and back country cross-country skiing. The uncrowded, long slopes make this New Zealand location the people’s choice for snow sports. Enjoy the challenge of the long and steep terrain. Arrange accommodations in near by Wanaka. Depending on what you like, there are a number of fantastic hotels, but I really like to stay in a B+B when I visit. I just like the feeling of being invited to hang out in somebody’s house and then having them make you breaky. That and you’re supporting good, personable small business.


Cardrona is well known for its gold rush days of the 1860s. There are still a few buildings of the era to explore including the famous Cadrona hotel. You’ll want to reserve a room if you wish to stay at the vintage gold rush style Cardrona Hotel, on the opposite side of the Cardrona River. For ski buffs, stay right in the middle of the action at the Cardrona Alpine Resort. If you are a newbie you are welcome to sign up at the ski and snowboarding school for a lesson or two before hitting the mountain so as to avoid any embarrassing collisions. Cardrona was the internationally famous location of the Race to the Sky hill climb. Unfortunately the last race was completed in 2007 so you don’t really need to watch out for very high revving cars speeding up the mountain. Still, if you’re driving up, make sure that your vehicle is up to par long before you leave for your trip. Other spots in Cardrona that you might want to check out include the Cardrona Hall and Church and the famous Cardrona Pub if you can ditch the kids.

Escaping to the Mountains for a snowy getaway will be a treat for the whole family. If you are traveling from outside of New Zealand, make sure that you’ve got your bases covered and can handle any medical problems, should they arise. That way you’ll truly be able to leave your cares behind you and actually relax.