09/11/2018 11:51 GMT | Updated 09/11/2018 11:51 GMT

Six Reasons Why The Kiwis Do Winter Way Better Than The Brits Do

New Zealanders always make the most of the great outdoors.

Mackenzie Region

Banish all thoughts of the soggy British winter from your mind. In New Zealand, the winter months of May to August are great for outdoor adventures, from soaring over a glacier by helicopter to skiing down some of the most unspoilt mountain slopes in the world. With fewer tourists around, there are bargain rates to be found – and when it’s frosty, the scenery is more beautiful than ever.

  • 1There are hot pools to hang out in
    There are hot pools to hang out in
    Tekapo Springs
    Relax: when it’s cold out, New Zealanders have the perfect natural antidote. This strikingly beautiful nation has no shortage of geothermal and naturally heated pools, many of them with views to make you sigh with bliss.

    Try the famous pure-water pools at Tekapo Springs, right in the heart of the South Island, for stunning views of the brilliant blue waters of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps. In case the imaginative, bird-friendly landscaping and awesome mountain panoramas aren’t soothing enough on their own, you could treat yourself to a hydrotherapy massage under the warm-water jets.
  • 2It’s peak whale-watching season in Kaikoura
    It’s peak whale-watching season in Kaikoura
    Destination Kaikoura
    Sperm whales, dolphins and other cetaceans play in New Zealand’s clear waters all year round, but the action steps up a notch in the winter months of June and July. Each year, migrating humpback, blue and southern right whales pass close to the east coast of the South Island, making this a superb time for a marine wildlife-watching trip.

    The best place to catch sight of an acrobatic humpback or a southern right’s mighty fluke is near the Kaikoura Peninsula, where ocean currents create waters rich in marine life. Once a whaling station, Kaikoura has reinvented itself as an ecotourism hub with an excellent reputation for trips which disturb the wildlife as little as possible.
  • 3The mountains are a winter sports playground
    The mountains are a winter sports playground
    Mackenzie Region
    Kiwis like to say that sport is their favourite therapy. But unlike those sport-loving Brits who are content to spend the winter parked on the sofa, watching the pros do their thing, New Zealanders prefer to get out and flex their muscles. From June to October, skiing and snowboarding top the agenda, both in the South Island and in the more mountainous areas of the North Island.

    Top spots to sample include Wanaka’s Treble Cone and the superb ski fields in the Canterbury region near Christchurch, including Mount Hutt and Aoraki Mount Cook, the nation’s highest mountain. For something totally different, ski down Mount Ruapehu – an active volcano – or test your mettle on a supercharged snowmobiling excursion from Queenstown.
  • 4It’s a great place to witness one of nature’s greatest light shows, the aurora australis
    It’s a great place to witness one of nature’s greatest light shows, the aurora australis
    Mackenzie Region
    Move over northern lights – the southern hemisphere has its own celestial spectacle. The aurora australis, or southern lights, are formed in pretty much the same way as the aurora borealis, flooding the lower part of the sky with a mesmerising curtain of colour. But the fact that there are so few places on dry land where conditions are just right for a satisfying viewing means the australis has extra cachet for sky-gazers. New Zealand’s far south has some of the best aurora-watching spots. Try the Otago Peninsula, or the lookout at Oban on Stewart Island.
  • 5There are glaciers to explore on a helicopter adventure
    There are glaciers to explore on a helicopter adventure
    Glacier Helicopter
    The Franz Josef Glacier in Westland Tai Poutini National Park is a marvel of natural architecture. At 7.5 miles (12km) long, the most inspiring way to appreciate its scale and might is to hop aboard a Glacier Helicopter for a 30-minute scenic flight. Or, for the ultimate adventure, book a heli-hike to explore its icy pinnacles and vivid blue caves.
  • 6Adventure capital Queenstown pulls out all the stops
    Adventure capital Queenstown pulls out all the stops
    Queenstown Winter Festival
    No other Kiwi town celebrates winter with quite as much gusto as Queenstown, the nation’s top destination for adventure activities. Not only is it the gateway to a winter wonderland – Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, two of New Zealand’s most popular skiing and snowboarding resorts, are right on the doorstep – but it also has its own Winter Festival. Expect parties, fireworks, music, comedy and a hilarious dog derby, with dogs and owners racing pell mell down Coronet Peak.

Air New Zealand flies daily from London Heathrow to Auckland. In conjunction with its airline partners, Air New Zealand offers more routes to New Zealand than any other airline from the UK. Fly via Los Angeles or one of the other gateways in North America or Asia and add a stopover to break up the journey free of charge. Discover a better way to fly at betterwaytofly.co.uk.