Top 5 NZ South Island Winter Gems
Updated: Mar 16
Winter is upon us here in New Zealand. It’s that time of the year when the temperatures start to drop .. there is snow starting to fall on the mountains, the ski fields are opening and its beginning to feel like a winter wonderland.
Although we are not yet in the true depths of the season, the lakes have started to freeze a little .. ice sheets are beginning to appear and frozen puddles line the foreshore. White frosting lies dotted along mountain ridgelines, and photographers everywhere are getting excited for the transformation from colourful autumn landscapes, to blissfully white winter filled scenes.
The South Island
If you are planning to visit New Zealand's South Island during winter, here are a few favourite spots of mine that might help you in some of your planning.
The Southern Alps is where you will find a lot of inspiration and sense of wonder only felt when surrounded by such incredible landscapes. The north island most certainly has gems like that too, but I'll share those ones another time!
Come along with me as I relive some of my journey through New Zealand in winter.
Lake Pukaki and The Road to Mt Cook
All I can say, is if you are headed to the South Island and Mount Cook in particular, its pretty hard to miss this one.
Here you will find THE most blue glacial feed lakes in New Zealand, and Lake Pukaki in particular is absolutely stunning.
Then the road to Mount Cook follows the lake and takes you to one of the most magical places on earth, and I’m not lying when I say that.
I don't think you will regret taking this road to one of New Zealand's most iconic mountains, do trust me on this one! There are not many places in the world where you will be treated with such diverse scenery .. take this road and find out for yourself.
Having seen many photos of Wanaka before ever visiting myself, this was one of those places that stole my heart as soon as I saw it with my own eyes.
A place that made me smile, that left me not wanting to leave, left me in constant awe and excited that I would one day get back there again to experience more.
I first visited here in the depths of winter, and it truly was an incredible sight. The mountains were covered in snow, the forever gorgeous Lake Wanaka glistened in the winter sun, and hiking Roy’s Peak to view one of the most spectacular sights over the Southern Alps in New Zealand was an experience not to be forgotten .. Wanaka is an absolute must do. Add it to your list.
It goes without saying .. Queenstown is the buzzing hub of winter in New Zealand. Nestled amongst the Southern Alps and lining the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a winter dream.
Tourists flock here and it’s no surprise why. The town is full of life, fabulous restaurants and you can’t help but feel excited being amongst it all. But what I love the most, are the incredible landscapes that are found on the outskirts of town .. the quiet places where the beauty really unfolds.
It is here that I fell in love with this place, and I always come back whenever visiting the South Island.
Tasman Valley and Tasman Glacier Lake
This area is my favourite part of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Take the side road down to the Tasman Valley and you wont regret it, the towering Mount Blackburn is probably the first mountain you will see, and what a way to be greeted I say!
With a short walk to Tasman Glacier Lake, its one of the easiest hikes you can do with some of the best rewards for scenery. In winter this place looks like something out of a fairytale. Snow capped mountains, ginormous icebergs and a pristine blue glacial feed lake. A photographer’s paradise.
It is however a stark reminder of global warming and the retreat of our glaciers. In the 1970’s the Tasman Lake didn’t exist. The glacier now recedes approximately 500 – 800 metres a year. It is predicted that the Tasman Glacier will disappear completely in 10-20 years time. Our planet is far more fragile than we humans are, I hope that we can all strive to make a difference and save it.
If you find yourself in the South Island and have time to travel the west coast, then Lake Matheson and Fox Glacier should be one place that you stop and spend a little time with.
The short walk around Lake Matheson provides you with some of the best views of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Tasman and Mount Cook, and on a good day, the lake creates a magnificent reflection in the dark waters beneath. Absolutely worth the drive to one of the most stunning places on earth.
That's it from me for this blog! I hope you might find some inspiration here and some ideas for your own winter trip to the South Island.
Feel free to leave me a comment, I'd love to know what you think.
All of these photos are also available for purchase, just send get in touch.
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