Whether you’re a ski or snowboarding fanatic, or just love the idea of soaking in a hot pool under a starry sky, winter in New Zealand is a campervan traveller’s dream.
Winter in NZ is from June until August. Our ski season generally runs from mid-June until mid-October, although snow can fall from as early as April and as late as November.
While winter may bring some chilly temperatures, it’s also the ideal time to organise a campervan hire, get cosy, and enjoy a New Zealand road trip adventure.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together a great list of things to do in NZ during winter, including lots of great free things to do!
While most of the country is hunkering down and hibernating, campervan travellers can enjoy making the most of our great winter offerings while there are fewer people on the roads. As an added bonus, some attractions and campgrounds provide off-peak pricing during winter (this may not apply during the winter school holiday period).
Here are a few of our popular things to do in New Zealand in winter worth adding to your travel itinerary:
Traverse some of the world’s best ski fields, including Treble Cone and Cardrona. See more top ski fields below.
Go stargazing in dark sky reserves such as Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and the Dark Sky Project at Lake Tekapo.
Go underground and explore the glow-worm caves at Waitomo Caves.
Explore New Zealand’s ‘winterless north’. Northland experiences milder winter temperatures compared to the rest of New Zealand, perfect if snow isn’t your thing!
Take a soak in a soothing hot pool such as Hanmer Springs or Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa. See more great hot pools listed below.
To truly make the most of our awesome winter campervan adventures, it’s a good idea to plan your trip ahead. Here are our top 10 travel tips to help you stay warm and cosy as you travel New Zealand.
While freedom camping is a popular way to save on costs as you travel New Zealand, we recommend that during winter you plan to plug in regularly. Staying at a campground means you can connect to mains power and keep your heater, lights, and appliances running. And that can make a big difference to your campervan cosiness!
Plan to stay in campgrounds that cater to winter travel. Look for facilities such as:
Download the thl Roadtrip app to help you find powered sites and campgrounds.
One of the great benefits of a campervan hire is that you’re all set up to cook your own meals. Make the most of your campervan’s kitchen facilities by creating hearty, warming dishes. Take a look through our selection of mouthwatering campervan meal ideas for inspiration.
Cooking is also a fun activity for those days when it’s a bit wet outside and you prefer staying in your cosy campervan.
A good supply of warm clothing is vital for a cosy winter road trip. Remember, some of your gear may get wet, so allow for a few extras just in case! Here are a few must-haves to add to your clothing list:
Here In New Zealand, we’re lucky to have some spectacular hot pools and spas scattered across the country. Many of our hot pools are geothermal with soothing mineral waters that leave you feeling deliciously warm and revitalised – the perfect winter treat! Here are a few of our top picks to add to your travel itinerary:
Nestled at the bottom of beautiful Mount Te Aroha in the Waikato region is Te Aroha Mineral Spas. Each spa has a private room for the ultimate relaxation.
About 30 minutes’ drive from Rotorua, Waikite Valley Thermal Pools is a geothermal centre and also has a great campsite.
Located in beautiful Taupō, Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort is a fantastic family-friendly complex and also has an onsite campground.
One of New Zealand’s leading tourism attractions, Tekapo Springs also offers a guided stargazing experience.
For something a bit special, this Queenstown boutique retreat spa recently won an award at the 2021 World Luxury Spa Awards. Onsen is not to be missed.
A great way to stay warm is by getting the blood flowing, don’t worry – we’re not talking about doing push ups! New Zealand is brimming with awesome outdoor activities that will soon get you warmed up. Try one of our great nature walks and hikes. Here are a few of our top winter walks:
Rangitoto summit and lava caves are a must-do when you’re visiting Auckland.
The Tunnel Beach Track is a 2 km return track in Dunedin that takes you through an excavated tunnel to a secluded beach.
An easy flat loop track, the Wairau Lagoons Walkway in Blenheim is a must-do for keen bird watchers.
For skiers and snow bunnies, New Zealand has a terrific selection of ski slopes in both islands. Here are a few favourites:
Our largest ski field, Whakapapa is on the northern slopes of Mt Ruapehu in the Central Plateau.
Handy to Queenstown in the South Island, Coronet Peak is a ski field also offers night skiing!
Another popular Queenstown ski field, The Remarkables is ideal for all skill levels, from first-timers to seasoned pros.
Most Mighty campervans include diesel heating which is easy to use and very effective at keeping everyone on board cosy and warm. Here’s a helpful video on how to use the diesel heating in your Mighty camper.
When booking your Mighty camper, you also have the option of hiring a portable 240V fan heater for NZD $16 (included free in our popular Inclusive Pack), which does a great job of quickly warming up your camper while you’re plugged into mains power.
Sometimes, the winter weather can derail the outdoor adventure plans of even the hardiest of souls! But that’s also a great excuse to make the most of staying cosy and warm inside your campervan.
It’s a good idea to keep a few fun indoor activities up your sleeve for days when the outdoors just isn’t an option. Here are a few helpful starters:
You can’t beat a good game of Scrabble or chess to pass the time indoors.
Download a few favourites to your device so you don’t have to worry about connecting to the internet.
What better way to make the most of winter inside than to craft your own beanie or blanket? Not sure how? You’ll find plenty of great how-to videos online, all you need is some wool and needles or a crochet hook to get started.
Take the opportunity to plan out your next day’s activities, or a future campervan adventure!
Mighty campers are well stocked with snuggly blankets, but if you need a little extra warmth, a good old-fashioned hot water bottle is a great option. They’re ideal for your campervan, or while you’re enjoying breakfast outdoors on those crisp winter mornings. A hottie tucked into your blankets or jacket does a great job of warming you up quickly – and they stay warm for hours too. Just boil your kettle, fill it up and you’re set!
Remember to use a hot water bottle cover and ensure the plug is screwed in properly to avoid accidental scalds.
A thermos flask comes in incredibly handy when you’re travelling by campervan – especially over winter. Whether your favourite hot drink is tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, a thermos is ideal for making up a nice big brew and keeping it piping hot. Don’t forget to pack your favourite biscuits too!
The weather in New Zealand can change quickly at any time of year, but particularly in winter. One minute it’s blue sky and sunshine, the next it could be closed over with cloud and rain!
Planning ahead and keeping an eye on the weather forecast will ensure you’re prepared and can choose activities wisely. After all, when you stay dry and as warm as you can, you’re going to enjoy your campervan holiday so much more.
As you can see, a winter campervan holiday in New Zealand has endless opportunities for adventure – and plenty of relaxation too! With just a bit of planning and preparation, you’ll stay warm and cosy and ready to make the most of the weather, rain or shine!
Get ready to pack your gloves and thermals. Take the first step toward an unforgettable winter campervan holiday and book your Mighty campervan hire online today. We’ve got branches in Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown.
Looking for more inspiration for your New Zealand road trip? Check out more of our helpful blogs: