Winter travel: Australia, New Zealand and the Cooks
Experience Winter wonders across our region during the Southern Hemisphere winter months (June, July, August). Much to the surprise of many visitors, winter travel Down Under can offer some of the region's most rewarding experiences. From Australia to New Zealand and the beautiful the sparkling islands of the South Pacific; untracked powder-snow to footprint-free powdery white tropical beaches, its all right here, right now!
To help inspire and shape visitors’ Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific travels at this time of year we’ve put together a collection of some of our favourite winter travel experiences; both for those looking to enjoy the coolest of winter wonders and for those who would rather escape winter’s cooler climes.
Great escapes to make the most of the Southern Hemisphere winter wonders:
Heli-ski the Southern Alps
New Zealand’s Southern Alps become a powdery white playground for skiers and snowboarders between June and September. Whilst Queenstown is without doubt the nation’s adventure capital all year round, for those looking to escape the crowds we can curate heli-skiing adventures from some of our favourite luxury lodges for winter travel. Disappear to Minaret Station to enjoy intimate mountain-top indulgences and miles upon miles of untracked snow with exclusive heli-skiing experiences.
The Southern Hemisphere night skies twinkle brightly at this time of year. Dark nights and clear skies far from city lights make for some spectacular stargazing. Head to the lovely Lindis, tucked away in the Ahurri Valley, to enjoy romantic hot-tub stargazing on the balcony of your private pod; winter travel at its sparkling finest.
Celebrate Maori New Year
Matariki (Maori New Year) is celebrated country-wide and marks the beginning of the winter solstice. This ancient festival welcomes the arrival of the Matariki constellation to southern skies and is celebrated with moving dawn ceremonies, colourful cultural performances and inspiring art exhibitions. Uncover the magic of the Maori culture with a respected local elder by your side to share practices passed down through generations and visit spectacular cultural sights during a stay at Huka Lodge. The region around Lake Taupo and Rotorua is particularly rich in Maori heritage; and its bubbling geothermal pools are the perfect warming winter travel experience.
Curl up with a Central Otago Pinot Noir
Enjoy reconnecting with friends and family or enjoy the romance of a red wine by the open fire with a stay at beautiful Blanket Bay. Sample and collect some of the finest Otago Pinots from the surrounding region, then cosy-up by the open stone-fireplace to enjoy views over Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped peaks beyond, glass of red in hand; or book a private dining experience in the lodge’s wine cave lined with carefully aged vintage wines.
Great getaways if you prefer your winter travel in different hues:
Given the vast distances and diverse climates spanned by our beautiful region, those in search of sun will also be rewarded in the Australian and South Pacific winter months. In fact, these can be some of the best times to visit the tropical treasures of Northern Australia (The Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberley, Arnhem Land and Kakadu) and the islands of the South Pacific (Fiji, Tahiti, Cook Islands and Vanuatu):
Snorkel the Reef
Not only do the Australian winter months offer some of the best conditions (clear blue skies and clear underwater visibility) for snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef’s technicolour coral gardens. This time of year also offers some of the region’s most wonderful wildlife opportunities: the northern-most Ribbon Reefs are the only place on the planet where you can dive with dwarf Minke Whales (June/July) whilst the warm waters of the wonderful Whitsundays attract hundreds of humpback whales throughout the season. The lovely Lizard Island, surrounded by the submerged treasures of the Great Barrier Reef is also the stepping off point for liveaboard dive adventures to really explore the remote Ribbon Reefs.
Not to be missed at this time of year, is a visit to Australia's "other reef". The Ningaloo Reef offers spectacular snorkelling with turtles and tropical fish, dolphins and dugongs, manta rays and so much more .. but here, the opportunity to swim alongside some of the gentlest giants of the sea, the majestic whale sharks that visit these waters between April and July, is truly bucket list-worthy!
Go on safari in the tropical Top End
This time of year offers the ideal conditions for Top End touring; go early in the season to enjoy the best of the wet (waterfalls thundering and barramundi biting) or wait until later in to see wildlife and beautiful birds congregating as the water supplies shrink. Either way, head north to enjoy authentic introductions to Australia’s indigenous culture and access to some of the country’s most breathtaking ancient landscapes. Bamurru Plains’ safari-style camp offers a wide range of adventures (air boating and birdwatching, fishing and wildlife spotting) and access to both Arnhem Land and Kakadu.
Hit the Gibb River Road
One of Australia’s most iconic outback drives is best traversed at this time of year. The Gibb River Road, that connects the outback with the ocean (from Kununurra to Broome) showcases some of the most spectacular Australian landscapes. Taking in the Bungle Bungle, countless dramatic gorges and vast red earth plains, the Gibb River Road is about as far from the city as you can get, but heading to the most remote reaches of our continent needn’t mean leaving life’s luxuries behind. Enjoy luxury lodgings, gorge-side dinners and soak off the outback dust with a dip in your bathtub with a (very impressive) view at El Questro homestead.
Park yourself under a palm tree
Head to the Cook Islands to enjoy warm sunny days and barefoot luxuries far from the cares of the modern world. Largely unexplored, the Cook Islands have much to offer from snorkelling with turtles and technicolour fish to hiking rain-forested volcanic peaks. Surrounded by the turquoise waters of Aitutaki’s breathtaking lagoon, Pacific Resort Aitutaki offers a wide range of activities (snorkelling, kitesurfing, fishing and more), alongside pampering spa treatments and private beach dinners; and is also the perfect place for enjoying doing nothing at all.
Get active in the Red Centre
Now is the time to enjoy the best of the Red Centre. The summer sting has gone from the air, allowing visitors to enjoy some of the region’s most rewarding outdoor adventures: from the Kings Canyon Rim Walk to the Larapinta Trail multi-day hike; or the many beautiful walks around Uluru and the neighbouring Kata Tjuta. The shorter days also mean you won’t have to get up quite so early to enjoy the sunrise spectacle over Uluru (Ayers Rock) and that you can squeeze in a visit to the twinkling Field of Light before dinner. Treat yourself to a stay at Longitude 131 to enjoy a night under the star-studded outback skies in a luxury swag on the balcony of your private desert pavilion (complete with fireplace to warm your toes and a night cap delivered to your door).
Contact our Travel Designers today to curate your perfect winter travel itinerary, because anytime of year is a great time to explore our beautiful backyard:
New Zealand and South Pacific: email@example.com
With domestic travel at an all time high, and our most sublimely socially distanced accomodation limited in capacity by their exclusive nature, now is the time to start planning for the Southern Hemisphere winter 2022.