Tuesday 20 November 2018
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huffingtonpost - 11 days ago

See The Southern Lights, Plus Five More Things To Do In New Zealand In Winter

Winter, from May to August, is New Zealand s secret season and it s an invigorating time of year. From sky-gazing and snow-tubing to the treat of a slap-up Second Breakfast in Hobbiton, there are plenty of unusual and intriguing adventures and activities to try.1. Cosy up under the southern lights in a Great Walk Hut New Zealand s glorious national park footpaths attract hikers all year round. Even in the heart of winter, some of the best long-distance trails remain accessible. They re blissfully uncrowded at this time, and, even if it s too cold to camp, Department of Conservation huts provide a warm refuge: they re heated, have shared kitchens and can be booked at discounted rates between May and September.

For a memorable three-day adventure, try the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island. You ll wander along open coastline and through native podocarp forest, listening out for the kiwi which gives the trail its name. After dark, be sure to look up: Rakiura National Park is one of the best places north of Antarctica to see the aurora australis, or southern lights. Tourism New Zealand2. Tuck into oysters in Bluff New Zealand s southernmost mainland town Bluff, in the Southland region is famous for its plump, juicy oysters. Each May, this unpretentious spot celebrates the harvest by hosting the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival, a feast of shellfish and other seasonal produce, paired with local wine and beer.

Food stalls offer local specialties such as roasted muttonbird (shearwater) or paua (abalone) patties, and oyster-opening and oyster-eating competitions draw enthusiastic crowds. If you d like to join in, plan ahead it sells out months in advance. Tourism New Zealand3. Go stargazing at The Church of the Good Shepherd This tiny cobblestone church is one of New Zealand s most famous and most photographed attractions. And it s no wonder - seeing The Church of the Good Shepherd against the star-studded backdrop of Lake Tekapo and the dramatic Southern Alps is a truly breathtaking experience.

Hosted by an experienced team of astronomy guides and astrophotographers, the nightly walking tours offered by Earth And Sky are worth their $99 price tag. As well as a detailed introduction to the stars of the Southern Skies, the Aoraki-Mackenzie region and and Māori astronomy, your ticket will give you exclusive access to the church at night so you can get that Insta-perfect photograph. ARUTTHAPHON POOLSAWASD via Getty Images4. Rock out to country music, Kiwi-style In late May and June, the Southland town of Gore welcomes hordes of guitar-twanging crooners and songwriters to the week-long New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards. It s the nation s biggest country music festival, wowing audiences every year since the 1970s.

For fans and headliners alike, the joy is in the melodies and the heartfelt, singalong storytelling, perhaps enhanced by a warming dram of Gore s famous local tipple, Hokonui Whiskey. An outdoor busking competition entitled Freeze Ya Bits Off offers the chance to spot fresh (or, for that matter, frozen) talent, and fringe events such as line dancing and a truck parade add to the atmosphere. Gore District Council5. Feel like a wizard on a visit to Hobbiton Did the through-the-keyhole depiction of Bilbo Baggins home in the movie version of The Hobbit leave you wondering what it might be like if you, like Gandalf, visited the Shire? Peter Jackson s Hobbit trilogy was entirely filmed in New Zealand, with the Hobbiton set created amongst the rolling green hills of a farm near Matamata, North Island. Tours of the set are wildly popular, with tickets slightly easier to come by in winter.

Jackson s creative team started building Middle-earth s hobbit holes, gardens and Green Dragon Inn well over a year before filming commenced, to give everything a natural, slightly overgrown, lived-in feel. On your tour, you can knock on hobbit hole doors, have a drink at the pub and enjoy a convivial breakfast (or, indeed, Second Breakfast). Tourism New Zealand6. Go snow tubing Whizzing down a snowy slope on an inflatable tube, spinning as you go, is a lot of fun, and the 150-metre tubing slope at Tekapo Springs Snow Tube Park is a great place to give it a whirl. Instead of trudging back up for another go, there s a magic carpet to whisk you to the top in double-quick time. The park is open from July to September. Tekapo Springs Snow Tube ParkAir New Zealand flies daily from London Heathrow to Auckland. In conjunction with its airline partners, Air New Zealand offers more routes to New Zealand than any other airline from the UK. Fly via Los Angeles or one of the other gateways in North America or Asia and add a stopover to break up the journey free of charge. Discover a better way to fly at betterwaytofly.co.uk.

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