Winter Highlife

Written by: S Stern of United States

jet boat

Snowboarders, skiers, and adventure seekers of all kinds descend onto the alpine towns of Queenstown and Wanaka in the winter season of June to October.  The spectacular mountain scenery is out of this world, the gear is easy to hire, the adrenaline-pumping activities are endless, and the après-ski culture is off the hook.
This Southern Lakes region goes off all year round. Summertime is equally incredible, but if you’re looking to live the winter highlife, there are four resorts within a short distance of each other:  The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone.
Queenstown isn’t called the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ for nothing.  If hitting the slopes isn’t your thing, try an adrenaline-pumping activity like canyon swinging, ziplining, white water rafting, or bungy jumping – right in the town the sport was born. Looking for something more low key? Go wine tasting, golfing, to a spa, or ride the Skyline gondola up the mountain for epic views. 
After a day out on the powder, head to Winnie’s for gourmet beer and pizza while you watch snowfall through their opened ceiling. (Really cool!) Queenstown nightlife is legendary. Bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants are all within walking distance of one another in the compact downtown area and are buzzing any night of the week. Ending your night with a late-night burger at Fergburger is an absolute must.
Fans of outdoor adventure have so much to do in New Zealand. If you want to hit the powder in the North Island, head to Mt Ruapehu near Taupo for some ski and snowboard action at Whakapapa and Turoa. This isn’t your average alpine destination: the ski fields are on a volcano! In the summertime, the same region is home to one of the best hikes in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. A must do for any Lord of the Rings fan.
While in Taupo, don’t miss taking a jetboat ride at the thundering and clear blue Huka Falls. And just a few hours away on your way back to Auckland, head to Waitomo Caves for seriously awesome underground adventures. Go black water rafting through a labyrinth of subterranean caves, underwater rivers, and be amazed by the millions of glow worms that light up the caves like a galaxy. Or abseil into the caves Indiana Jones-style on the amazing Lost World adventure.
No matter what season it is in New Zealand, you always have an epic trip ahead of you. From snowboarding and surfing to glacier hiking to whale watching, you are guaranteed to have a blast.