Secret Winter Adventures in New Zealand’s South Island

Sometimes we need a little inspiration to get out and explore during winter. Fire up your inner nomad and discover some of the South Island of New Zealand’s winter pursuits.

Skydive Wanaka

Much of New Zealand simply needs to be seen from the air – and what better way than at 200km (124 miles) per hour with the wind rushing past your face.

One of the best locations to skydive is above the stunning scenery of Wanaka. The potential to view six lakes and almost never-ending mountains (while screaming your lungs out) can’t be understated.

Stay cool on the way up and warm on the way down in our tough Core Spun Merino apparel.

When to go: Anytime – but the mountains have considerably more snow in winter

Who wouldn't want to skydive over this stunning lake?
Who wouldn't want to skydive over this stunning lake?

Heat up in a Southern Alps hot spring

It’s not hard to find a hot spring in the alpine environment of the south. There are plenty of remote springs that are almost untouched and a few well known ones that are worth the effort:

Come prepared with a compact towel and swimwear packing cell from our pack&GO range.

When to go: Autumn or early winter

Ski Canterbury

The Canterbury province has a plethora of backcountry ski fields on offer. You’ll enjoy sensational mountain and lake views, have more square metres of snow all to yourself and even keep costs down.

A few off-the-beaten-track slopes you should tackle are:

  • Roundhill – incredible views over Lake Tekapo and of Aoraki Mount Cook (if the cloud clears)
  • Porters – the closest ski field to Christchurch and at a reasonable price
  • Ohau – a real backcountry, family-run snow field with magnificent vistas over Lake Ohau and beyond

If you simply want to head to the best, look no further than Mount Hutt. It’s a short driving distance from the winter ski town of Methven.

For a cracking winter on the slopes, grab the latest protective winter snow gear. Our extensive Styper Collection has it all.

When to go: Many ski areas are open from early-June to mid-September

Image of a man snowboarding on Mount Hutt
Tackling Mount Hutt's great variety of runs is a must

Eat in Bluff

A South Island winter isn’t complete without a feast of seafood.

Step up the Bluff Oyster Festival! As winter approaches, this festival featuring Bluff’s most famous export is a hearty way to kick into the coldest season.

When to go: Late May

Get to a West Coast glacier

If you haven’t walked on a glacier before, then you simply must – the blue ice will blow you away.

The Southern Alps have a multitude of glaciers but they aren’t all accessible. Two massive ones are so close to sea level, you’ll need to see them to believe them. They are:

  • Franz Josef – a temperate maritime glacier that’s only 19km (12 miles) from the Tasman Sea
  • Fox – fed by four alpine glaciers it sits only a short distance from the town of Fox

NZ’s longest is the Tasman Glacier which is located right next door to its highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook.

Is you’re planning on hiking to one of these glaciers, find the right footwear for the trail.

When to go: Throughout winter

A whole new world awaits inside the West Coast glaciers
A whole new world awaits inside the West Coast glaciers

Witness the Southern Lights

Although it’s occasionally possible to see the Aurora Australis from the lower North Island, some of the best places to view it are:

  • Stewart Island – the further south you go, the better your chances
  • Tekapo – famous for clear stargazing nights
  • The Catlins – an isolated coastal area way down south

Wrap up warm on your southern light adventure in a cosy men’s or women’s down jacket.

Best time to see: March to September (at around midnight)

Celebrate the past (or is that the future?)

Kick off your NZ getaway at a winter festival with a difference. Small town New Zealand shows its slightly off-beat colours at the Steampunk Festival in Oamaru.

A subgenre of science fiction that embraces the designs and technologies of 19th century industrial, steam-powered machinery, the Southern Hemisphere’s longest running Steampunk fiesta began with a party and a bronze beer mug.

When to go: Late May/Early June

Drive a Southern Alps highway

Not to be missed, there are three alpine passes in the South Island and all are spectacular. However, they do have their subtle differences:

  • Lewis Pass – the most northern crossing with hot spring spots along the journey
  • Arthur’s Pass – the central route with a steep viaduct and opportunities to encounter kea
  • Haast Pass – the southern option showcasing a lake fly-by and incredible blue pools

Look the part on your NZ roadie in our range of Federate gear.

When to go: When there’s plenty of snow but the road is open

Feel like you're flying through the passes of the Southern Alps
Feel like you're flying through the passes of the Southern Alps

Enhance your South Island adventure by taking on some of the Best Skiing in New Zealand.

Grab your winter essentials