So the weather is noticeably colder and your electric blanket is likely about to work its way back into your nightly routine, but don’t let the winter blues settle in this June. Instead, bundle up in a puffer jacket, pull on a beanie and plan an adventure!
This month, we’ve got a line-up of activities and experiences – including awesome day trips, epic animal encounters and exhilarating thrill rides (wait until you read about the high-speed shark machine!) – that we guarantee you’ll love. So, without further ado, here are all the fun things that you’re going to want to do this winter in New Zealand.
Go On a Craft Beer Crawl
As New Zealand’s unofficial capital of craft beer, Wellington is a mecca for anyone in need of refreshment. And on this half-day exploration of the city’s coolest and quirkiest breweries, that is exactly what you are going to get. You’ll enjoy tastings at four different locations – which could include award-winning establishments like Kereru Brewing Company or Boneface Brewing (it changes frequently) – plus get the chance to go behind the scenes on exclusive tours with the beer makers themselves. Cheers to that!
Wellington Craft Brewery Half Day Tour
Explore Tiritiri Matangi Island
Just a 75-minute ferry ride from Auckland, Tiritiri Matangi Island is a protected sanctuary for the precious and endangered bird species of New Zealand. The number of people allowed to visit this predator-free safe haven is limited, but on this special day trip you’ll be granted access to explore the island and take part in a 90-minute guided walk, during which a ranger will teach you how to identify different bird calls and run you through the various environmental recovery efforts.
Tiritiri Matangi Island Day Tour
Take a Ride in a High-Speed Shark
Reach speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour when you jump inside what can only be described as a ‘shark machine’ on this heart-racing tour. Hydro Attack is the world’s first commercial operator of the Seabreacher X watercraft, a semi-submersible vessel that can shoot through the water like a torpedo and also propel itself vertically in the air like a fighter jet. You’ll dive down into the depths of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu, and blast high above it, on a 15-minute private joy ride that’s certain to deliver all of the thrills.
Private Hydro Attack Experience
Day Trip to Martinborough
Escape to the country for a lovely day spent wandering around Martinborough’s many wineries, eateries and attractions. Departing Wellington, you’ll stop at places like Kaitoke Regional Park, Matakitaki-a-kupe Reserve and Cape Palliser Lighthouse to admire the breathtaking natural scenery, before hitting the region’s cellar doors and vineyards for a wine tasting or two. Other important pit stops include a cheese shop and chocolate studio (yum!), while dinner is at a gorgeous old hotel on the banks of Lake Onoke.
Martinborough Wine and Wild Coast Tour
Kayak on Lake Rotoiti
Combine adventure with relaxation on a kayaking trip to the spectacular Manupirua Springs Hot Pools. To reach this unique geothermal site – accessible only via the water – you’ll need to paddle across Lake Rotoiti, on a leisurely one-hour journey made all the more enjoyable by your knowledgeable tour leader sharing stories of local Maori legends. Once at the hot pools you’ll have plenty of time to kick back, relax and soak in the mineral-rich water. The hardest part? Having to get out and paddle all the way back again.
Guided Hot Pools Kayak Trip
Discover Paradise Valley
The name says it all, really. Paradise Valley, in the Glenorchy region outside of Queenstown, is a landscape so striking it was used as a backdrop for both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Seeing a few of these filming sites is just a small part of this incredible day trip, which also includes a hike above Diamond Lake, getting off the beaten track in a 4WD and visiting a sheep-shearing farm.
Paradise Valley Full Day Tour
Cruise For Whales and Dolphins
There are six types of whales that frequent the pristine waters of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, and your best chance of spotting them all is on this 4.5-hour eco-cruise. Setting sail from Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, the Dolphin Explorer – a custom-built, 20-metre catamaran – is the perfect vessel for exploring this biologically diverse area, which is also home to dolphins, penguins and seabirds. And when you’re not scanning the waves for wildlife, you’ll be kept entertained and informed by the captain and crew’s insightful commentary.
Dolphin and Whale Watching Eco-Safari
Try Alpine Snowshoeing
Not a skier or snowboarder? Snow worries, because we’ve got just the alpine adventure for you: snowshoeing. No prior experience is needed to take part in this chilly trek of The Remarkables (although a moderate level of fitness is advised), and all the gear is provided. You’ll hike along scenic trails like Jagged Edge Ridge, and be treated to insane views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Plus, an experienced guide will regale you with tales of the region, and ensure you don’t get lost.
Alpine Guided Snowshoeing
Raft Down The Kaituna River
Expect thrills and plenty of spills when you hit the Kaituna River for three hours of white-water rafting. The setting itself is stunning; you’ll be paddling past fern-clad rocks and through narrow gorges – but it doesn’t take long for the action to kick in, and soon the only thing you’ll be focussing on is staying dry. The Class 5 rapids make for a wet and wild ride, but nothing can prepare you for the seven-metre drop down Tutea Falls – the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall. Make sure you hold on tight!
Kaituna River White Water Rafting
Search For Kiwis
Are you even a true New Zealander if you haven’t seen a kiwi – the country’s iconic national bird – in the wild? If you have yet to tick that experience off, this overnight kiwi-spotting tour on Kapiti Island should be at the top of your to-do list. Upon arrival at this gorgeous oasis you can stretch your legs and wander the island’s walking tracks, before enjoying a chef-prepared meal back at your luxurious accommodation. Then, once darkness falls, you’ll head out into the dense wilderness in search of the elusive kiwi, plus many other rare birds.