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NZ towns to visit in winter

April 01, 2021

Winter is quickly approaching, and what better place to be than New Zealand? As the air cools and the summer crowds disperse, autumn and winter are great times to explore the land of the long white cloud. Looking for a destination outside of a big city? Aotearoa has plenty of towns and villages with something unique and exciting to offer.


Icy activities in Naseby

Nestled out of the way in Central Otago, Naseby is a small town with a lot to offer. Rich with history, Naseby was born out of the 1860s goldrush and to this day remains vastly unchanged. With historic buildings and goldrush heritage trails, entering Naseby is like taking a step back in time. What sets it apart from other gold rush towns, is that it’s bustling with activity coming into winter. Kiwis come to visit from across the country to experience winter pursuits, namely ice skating and curling.

The town’s indoor ice rink is open year-round where you can try your hand at ice skating, ice hockey, curling, or even ice bowling. From June onward, the outdoor ice rink freezes over, becoming active. Here you can skate on natural ice and experience the wonder and thrill of skating outdoors in nature. Not an ice skating fan? Naseby is also home to New Zealand’s only ice luge, an enviable 360-meter ice track which you can fly down at exhilarating speeds (or tackle at a more controlled pace).

These icy activities are not for the faint of heart, and some visitors prefer to simply explore the region’s heritage over a hot chocolate and take advantage of the winter scenery.



Ohakune is an adventure hub

Situated at the base of Mount Ruapehu and just around the corner from the Tongariro National Park, Ohakune is a hub for adventure. The town itself is largely known for being the carrot capital of the country, but its surrounding area is rich with nature offering visitors an endless list of things to do.

If you’re visiting with the family, there are plenty of child-friendly activities in and around Ohakune. From walking and biking trails to indoor rock climbing and horse treks. Tūroa ski field is only a short trip away. Why not hire a toboggan and have a blast playing in the snow? Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, take the chairlift up the hill to enjoy the scenery and explore the mountain’s natural playground on skis.

A good host, Ohakune township has everything required to stock up for daytime adventures and a range of dining options to enjoy on return. If you feel like staying in, keep an eye out for cosy accommodation including camping and luxury hotel suites.



Sit back and relax in Te Aroha

If you’re looking for a restful holiday, Te Aroha is the place for you. Situated at the foot of Mount Te Aroha, the highest point in the Kaimai Range, there’s plenty to do in and around this small town. Its scenic trails, geothermal activity hotspots, and mineral spa pools are tailor-made for a relaxing holiday. The Te Aroha pools were developed in the early 1880s transforming the small town into a popular destination. While the popularity eventually waned, the pools were recently modernised and the small town is once again a hub of activity. The natural mineral pools are perfect for warming up on a cool winter evening.

Like everywhere else in New Zealand, there are plenty of hiking trails where you can wrap up warm and enjoy the onset of Winter. But geothermal activity is what sets Te Aroha apart. Home to the world’s only natural soda water geyser, the Mokena Hou Geyser is Te Aroha’s star attraction.



te aroha

Make the most of Motueka

Motueka is a well-positioned base for exploration of the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks. Between them, you’ll be spoilt for choice – walking, hiking and kayaking, they have it all! For the wild at heart, give canyoning a go through the five unique canyons available. And if that converts you to ‘adrenaline junkie’ status, you’re welcome to jump out of a plane and view Tasman’s natural wonders from above as you skydive toward the canopy.

If you’d rather stay in town, the Motueka Sunday market pops up every week. A busy attraction for both locals and visitors, stop by for local produce, secondhand wares, arts, crafts, and to be serenaded by local musicians.

Take a break from the usual city hot spots because New Zealand’s smaller towns have plenty to offer over the cooler months. It’s well worth rugging up warm, packing your hot chocolate in a thermos, and heading off on an adventure. With character, personality, and adventure, they may just become your favourite holiday destinations. Supporting local has never been so fun!