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Loving Winter Is An Art - South Island

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Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy

Loving winter is an art. You have to be ready, prepared and of course be somewhat enthusiastic about leaving the warm and hopefully cozy confines of home. A winter break or weekend can be invigorating and get you out of your trackies and off the couch.

If you’re based in the South Island then you’re truly blessed. Winter is beautiful in these parts. The top of the South Island is still moderately warm (well about 15 degrees) and sunny with blue skies. An hour and half from Nelson is Rainbow Ski field. Not one of New Zealand’s most notable but a great family get away. Consider going on a Monday if you can for half price days and a mountain to yourself. In the other direction is Mount Arthur in the Kharangi National Park.  The Mount Arthur Tableland Circuit is a two day trek (one way) and suitable for people with good fitness. Moderate to high level backcountry skills and experience, including navigation and survival skills are required so be prepared. In good weather the summit can easily be hiked as a day trip or there is a nice hut right at treeline. There is a 3 ticket ($15) charge per person per night for the Arthur Hut.

Further a field on the inland route to Christchurch are a collection of hot springs, the most popular being Hamner Springs. At the centre of the village is Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, so popular that they were voted BEST VISITOR ATTRACTION at the 2004, 2005 and 2006 New Zealand Tourism Awards. If you are from Japan or been there you may be disappointed with Kiwi hot springs, the concrete paths and ‘swimming pool’ atmosphere are hardly aesthetic. But if you’ve never enjoyed outdoor bathing on a chilly winter afternoon you’ll probably love it. Situated 90 minutes drive north of Christchurch, the thermal pools were voted BEST VISITOR ATTRACTION at the 2004, 2005 and 2006 New Zealand Tourism Awards.

For a touch of Japan in New Zealand, Maruia is a good alternative to the popular Hamner Springs. Snowcapped mountains, billowing steam and a natural thermal wonderland are just some of the draw cards of this slower, less busy hot spring. Individual spas and hot pools overlook the river, mountains and rock strewn valley.  A traditional Japanese bathhouse provides segregated public bathing, to relax and unwind.


Few people know but there are also a few scattered free hot springs. Syliva Flats are located twenty minutes from Maruia and boast two small pools large enough for two people. 2.7 kms north of the Magdalen Valley road/ Boyle River turn off, access is via the picnic area on the right hand side of the road. Follow the sulphur smell.


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