Embrace the most southerly destinations in the world for a true winter holiday this year, and ski, snowboard and sauna the days away during this magical season.
From close-to-home winter destinations, to far flung ones, here are our top picks.
1. Queenstown, New Zealand
This beautiful lakeside town is nestled below the Remarkables Mountain Range and is known as the Adventure Capital of the World, not least because it is a top-class ski resort.
Why is Queenstown a good winter holiday destination?
Well, not to brag of anything, but Queenstown kind of has it all. Fresh and dry powder provide an incredible platform for experienced and novice skiiers, and the onsens, saunas, and spas make for an inviting post-ski sesh. If you’re not into winter sports, but want to enjoy the atmosphere, Queenstown is renowned for its restaurants, bars, yoga retreats, wineries, and outdoor activities like horse riding, so there is plenty to do here, no matter your interests.
How do I get to Queenstown?
Booking flights to Queenstown from Australia is easy, because they are cheap and frequent. Plus, it only takes around 3 hours from the east coast, so it’s a quick flight to take if you’re travelling with family.
Is Queenstown an affordable winter holiday destination?
Yes, actually. You will need to book in advance, but you can find both cheap flights and cheap hotels in this town. If you want to save money, there are budget accommodation options, if you want to splash out, there are plenty of luxurious options too.
2. Wanaka, New Zealand
Only half an hour’s drive from Queenstown, Wanaka is the lesser known, but no less beautiful Otago ski town. Close to Cardrona and Treble Cone, Wanaka’s ski opportunities are just as pristine as Queenstown’s, and you’ll probably find that the runs aren’t as busy on this side of the mountains.
Why is Wanaka good winter holiday destination?
Like Queenstown, Wanaka is great for skiiers and snowboarders, but there are also spas, restaurants and bars that more than make up for a day off the slopes. This is the perfect destination for solo travellers, couples, or families that want a slightly slower and more relaxed pace than Queenstown.
How do I get to Wanaka?
If you want to book flights to Wanaka, you actually have to fly into Queenstown. You can then hire a car, and wend your way through the jaw-dropping scenery from the airport to Wanaka.
Is Wanaka an affordable winter holiday destination?
Wanaka and Queenstown are similar in price, so you won’t find a large discrepancy in terms of hotel, and both towns are served by the same airport.
3. Taupo, New Zealand
Want to experience a little more nature? Why not fly to Taupo? This town is set against the banks of New Zealand’s largest lake, and to the south lies the fantastic Tongariro National Park.
Why is Taupo good winter holiday destination?
For snow seekers, within Tongariro is the celebrated Whakapapa ski resort, and also takes the crown for being New Zealand’s largest (it’s like Taupo is showing off at this point). For those looking for less speedy ways to get around, there are loads of hiking opportunities in this part of the world, not least of which is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which you can do with a guide.
How do I get to Taupo?
Taupo has its own little airport that connects it to the rest of New Zealand, with flights diverted through Auckland. So you can book flights to Taupo via a connecting route, or fly to Auckland, rent a car, and enjoy the spectacular scenery on your way to town.
Is Taupo an affordable winter holiday destination?
If you choose to stay in Taupo proper, then yes, this town is very affordable, with lots of options for staying in hotels, from budget to mid-range to boutique.
Looking for something further afield?
If you were thinking of an adventure a little further from home, there are plenty of options in South America, another snowy hotspot for wintersports enthusiasts, or for holidayers that just love the snow.
4. Santiago, Chile
The cosmopolitan city of Santiago is booming with culture, a great dining scene, a buzzing nightlife, and nearby – plenty of ski resorts.
Why is Santiago good winter holiday destination?
Well, namely, the Three Valleys Resorts, and Valle Nevado in particular is well known for its excellent backcountry terrain, and great snow record. Beyond the snowy attractions, you can make the most of Santiago itself by touring La Vega Central Market, visiting Pablo Neruda’s home, diving into the city’s exciting nightlife in Barrio Lastarria, and enjoying panoramic views from atop San Cristobal Hill.
How do I get to Santiago?
Booking flights to Santiago is easier than you’d think. Major Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne fly direct routes out to Santiago regularly, so getting there is pretty hassle-free.
Is Santiago an affordable winter holiday destination?
Yes! The Aussie dollar is strong against the peso, and you’ll find that prices are roughly 35-70% cheaper in Chile than they are at home. This means finding great hotels at reasonable prices is reasonably achievable.
5. Buenos Aires, Argentina
You won’t find snow in Buenos Aires, but travel south to the vast stretches of Patagonia, and its main city Mendoza, and you will encounter all the snow you need.
Why is Buenos Aires a good winter holiday destination?
This is an awe-inspiring part of the world, where you will see pristine lakes, ancient forests, and the rising teeth of the Andes Mountain Range. Ski resorts also abound. Las Lenas is probably the most famous and dramatic ski resort because of its accessible mountain terrain, and its gullies, bowls and ridges.
If winter sports aren’t for you, there’s plenty in this city to keep you occupied: tour La Boca, the Plaza de Mayo, and the beautiful Jardín Botánico.
How do I get to Buenos Aires?
Whilst there are no direct flights to Buenos Aires, you can book flights to Buenos Aires via cool stopover destinations, such as Auckland or Santiago. So, if you fancy it, you can turn it into a multi-city holiday with ease.
Is Buenos Aires an affordable winter holiday destination?
Is Buenos Aires an affordable winter holiday destination? Yes, cost of living is much lower in Buenos Aires, and so in general you’ll find the prices, from shopping, to dining and accommodation are very reasonable.