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The Best Short Trips to Enjoy Cold Weather in New Zealand

If you’re longing for wide open spaces and cold, crisp air (not created by air conditioning), New Zealand should be in your travel plans. With its breath-taking scenery, expansive national parks, and clean, refreshing air, this island nation in the Pacific offers the best trips to escape the Singapore heat.

Summer in New Zealand is from December to February, and although it hardly ever gets as hot as Singapore, if you’re looking for cold weather it’s best not to go during summer. Spring and Autumn are beautiful, and Winter (and early spring) is fantastic for snowy mountains tops and skiing.

What’s the best way to enjoy a short trip to New Zealand to escape the heat and enjoy a colder temperature? Here are three of the best trips you can do to enjoy some cold weather.

Skiing in Queenstown

New Zealand is one of the best places on the planet for ski trips, with loads of beautiful ski fields to choose from. If skiing or snowboarding is your thing (or if you’ve always wanted to try), the best place for you to escape the Singapore weather is Queenstown. Queenstown, in the South Island, is surrounded by three world-renowned ski fields: The Remarkables, Cardrona, and Coronet Peak. You’ll find slopes for beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders, and everything in between.

Queenstown skiing

There is plenty to enjoy when you’re off the mountain too. Queenstown is a charming town that sits on the edge of beautiful Lake Wakatipu, nestled amongst the Southern Alps. The views from anywhere in this place will blow you away!

It’s the adventure capital of New Zealand, offering activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating and paragliding. The Skyline Gondola is another excellent way to take in the sites, and on the way down you can ride the luge – it’s really fun, especially for kids!

Related: check out our guided ski tours.

AJ Hackett Bungy, Queenstown

If you prefer something more relaxed, you can take a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw (an old-fashioned steamboat), or just stroll around the town centre. Queenstown has lots of great cafés and restaurants and a lively nightlife scene. There is so much to do in one place, Queenstown is perfect for short, cold weather holidays.

Exploring Lakes, Mountains and Glaciers in the South Island

The southern half of the South Island is a paradise full of glaciers, forests, lakes and spectacular mountain landscapes. You can fly to Christchurch or Queenstown to start your trip. There is a lot to see so our private guided tours are a great way to make the most of your time.

Some of the iciest places in the country are in this area, among the most amazing are Franz Joseph Glacier, Fox Glacier and the highest mountain in the New Zealand Mount Cook (aka Aoraki). The best way to see these icy blue winter wonderlands is to take a tour by helicopter or small plane.

View of Mt Cook

There are some stunning lakes and beautiful walking tracks in the area. Not far from the glaciers is Te Ara Kairaumati Walk, an easy hour and a half walking track that leads you through spectacular views of Lake Matheson (also known as the mirror lake) and Mt Cook. It’s possibly one of the best short walks in New Zealand. If you pass Lake Pukaki and the turquoise beauty that is Lake Tekapo, stopping to admire these lakes is a must – you will definitely want to take photos!

Related: see our 9-day exclusive Southern Lights Luxury Tour.

Lake Matheson, New Zealand

Driving never gets boring and the landscape is incredible. The views from the road are particularly stunning in the Autumn when the leaves on the trees turn to shades of yellow, orange and red.

Stay a few nights in Queenstown to enjoy some of the many attractions and magnificent lake and mountain views.

You could make your trip a Lord of the Rings adventure as there are lots of locations around the South Island that were in the Lord Of The Rings movies, and they are just as impressive in real life.

Related: see our private Lord of the Rings Tours.

Volcanic Plateau Adventure in the North Island

The North Island is not as cold as the South Island, and the landscape is very different – it’s greener, with rolling hills and ancient forests with huge old trees and towering ferns. As long as you don’t go during summer, the climate is cold enough. Around the volcanic plateau you’ll discover geothermal activity, Maori culture, spectacular views and Hobbiton (the set from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies). Just fly into Auckland and get on the road.

Hobbiton, otherwise known as “The Shire”, is in Matamata, a 2-hour drive from Auckland. The village is just as it is in the movies and you will be bused in from the check-in centre. There are different tours to choose from, and you must book at least a day advance or risk being turned away.

Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings

Rotorua is a cultural centre and a geothermal wonderland. As you arrive, you will notice the smell of sulphur in the air and the steam rising out of random places in the streets. You can see geysers, bubbling mud pools and relax in hot spring pools. Rotorua is the centre for Maori culture and New Zealand’s first officially bilingual city. Visit a geothermal park that offers cultural shows to get a taste of the culture of the tangata whenua (people of the land), the original inhabitants of New Zealand.

Rotorua geyser

Lake Taupo and the Huka Falls are beautiful places to stop and enjoy nature. Look and listen out for New Zealand’s native birds like tui and fantails.

A little further south in Tongariro National Park you will find the stunning volcanoes, Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe. The latter featured in Lord of the Rings as Mt Doom. And, if you like the idea of ski tours you can visit Mt Ruapehu, the North Island’s skiing destination.

Related: check out our Mt Ruapehu North Island Ski Tour.

Mt Doom / Mt Ngauruhoe

Waitomo Caves is another great place to visit. There is a range of tours to explore this extensive cave system. What makes these caves special is that they’re full of glow worms which light up the caves like thousands of little stars.

Which of these trip ideas do you think you would enjoy the most? Tell us what most interests you and we can help you plan a self-drive tour or choose the perfect private guided tour for you. Contact us to help you plan your ideal getaway; you can call us at +64 2191 0433, send us an email to [email protected] or use our contact form.