With New Zealand's borders currently shut, that doesn't mean that all your travel plans need to be put on hold. If you're planning a winter getaway, exploring our very own backyard can be just as rewarding if you know the right places to go. We take a look at some of our favourite NZ travel destinations, perfect for your next holiday.
Best known for its natural hot pools and stunning landscapes, Hanmer Springs is a picturesque alpine village that’s only 90 minutes drive from Christchurch. As much of a summer retreat as it is, Hanmer is just as much fun in winter with the geothermal hot pools staying open all year round. Relax amongst the snowcapped mountains in one of the spas, or hire out toboggans with the kids and sled down the hills amongst one of the local resorts. A great holiday destination that the whole family can enjoy.
For Lord of the Rings fans, it doesn’t get much better than a guided set tour of Hobbiton. The 12 acre set is home to the Hobbit Holes of The Shire and not only makes for some amazing photo opportunities, but you can also learn about the history and role of each location and can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet as part of some of the tours. Hobbiton makes for a great weekend getaway or day trip if you’re based in Auckland, Rotorua or Tauranga, and is a must-see for any Lord Of The Rings fan.
FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER
For the adventure junkie, the Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers are some of the most accessible glaciers in the world. Not only can you marvel in the dramatic landscapes, but there’s lots of ways to experience these ice giants. Heli-hiking allows you to explore the streams, crevasses and ice caves by foot and then take off on a jaw-dropping flight by helicopter for some of the best views from above. You can also choose to explore via kayak or by foot with daily guided tours and then finish off your trip by relaxing in the glacier hot pools.
A somewhat isolated destination, Curio Bay is perfect for those wanting to soak up some of the best of natural New Zealand. With gorgeous forests that are home to both the Cathedral Caves and stunning waterfalls. The postcard views of Curio and the surrounding areas of the Catlins are not to be missed. Hit the waves at the local beach or look out for yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals, dolphins, sea lions and even whales if you’re lucky! There’s also the incredible fossil forest which can only be explored at low tide which is home to much of New Zealand’s wildlife as some of the country's most picturesque hiking tracks.
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities, Lake Tekapo is a welcome escape into the wilderness. With lush forests and amazing scenery, it has some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes that New Zealand has to offer. Take a hike through the Lake Tekapo regional park or Towns Hill walkway and experience panoramic views of the Southern Alps, or visit one of the most photographed Churches in the world - The Church of the Good Shepard. There’s also the popular Mt John Observatory for stargazers and astrophotographers. At the right time of year, you might even catch a glimpse of the Southern Lights!