We know taking a break from everyday life and heading away for a weekend or a holiday is a fantastic way to make winter a bit more bearable.
There has been plenty of opportunity in the past two years to enjoy the amazing places to visit right here in New Zealand. But this winter there are few overseas destinations that are now available to enjoy again.
We asked Te Atatu Toasted fans for their favourite getaway destinations either here in New Zealand or within a few hours flight to help you plan the perfect winter escape.
Crazy for the Cook Islands
The sunny Cook Islands are the destination of choice for Lisa Mein and her family. It’s a great choice for a short family holiday – the flight time is less than five hours, there is a range of accommodation from luxury resorts to self-catering local houses to stay in and you can spend your time lazing on the beach or by the pool, enjoying the local culture, or opting for a more active adventure such as diving, snorkeling, hiking, turtle or whale spotting, cycling or four-wheel drive tours. Information on entry requirements, where to stay and eat out and what to do is available from Cook Islands Tourism
Relax in Raglan
Solscape Eco Retreat is Te Atatu Toasted founder Clare Robinson’s number one pick for a pick-me-up. A short walk from Raglan’s world-famous surf of Manu Bay and Ngarunui Beach, it offers eco accommodation ranging from basic to luxurious to suit all budgets (there are campervan sites, earth domes and you can even stay in a train), you can make your own food or try the retreat’s vegan café The Conscious Kitchen and choose between lounging around reading a book, enjoying the outdoors, booking in for a massage or taking part in the activities on offer which include workshops and seminars, yoga and surfing lessons.
Cruise the Coromandel
The Coromandel is a firm favourite with Ali Seakins and it’s not just for summer. A crisp winter day is the perfect time to enjoy its beautiful beaches or bush walks and experience the natural hot springs in the region – dig your own spa in the sand at Hot Water Beach or head to one of the mineral hot pools (we love The Lost Springs in Whitianga which also offers massage and beauty treatments). It’s not just the outdoors that has a lot to offer – the Coromandel is packed with galleries and studios showcasing the talent of local artisans and wonderful cafes, wineries and restaurants.
Another tropical destination that is open to Kiwi travellers is the beautiful island nation of Fiji. It’s just four hours away by plane and one of the places Kevin Miller heads to for a warm break when winter hits our shores. Denarau is close to the Nadi airport and offers a range of hotels to choose from, many offering great facilities for families. It’s also the ideal place to say for a night or two if you are catching a ferry to spend some time at one of the resorts on outer lying islands. There are too many to choose from to list here but Lonely Planet has a great guide to selecting the perfect island for your holiday.
Nice in Northland
Northland is one of our most beautiful regions but it gets very crowded in the summer months when Kiwis flock to its white sand beaches and cute seaside towns. In the winter months you can enjoy its beauty without having to compete for space or a table at a café. Jo May loves to take her family to Rangiputa on the Karikari Peninsula which is a wonderful spot to get away from it all but if you prefer a slightly faster pace, you can base yourself in the Bay of Islands and explore from there. Make sure you take a ferry trip to Russell, which was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand, and check out the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, including the fantastic new museum.
Winter on wheels
If you don’t want to limit yourself to one spot for your getaway, consider a campervan adventure. During the off-peak season, and with fewer international tourists on our shores, campervans are more available and allow you to enjoy a few different places in one trip. Di McDonald is planning a roadie around the East Cape but you can head anywhere. Try to get a motorhome that allows you to put your bikes on the back so you can explore once you are parked up.
Heading across the Tasman is another great winter vacation option according to Sheryl Blythenwho says it’s similar enough to New Zealand to make holidaying easy but also offers a wide range of experiences. If a city holiday is your preference, you will love the restaurants and bars, shopping and culture of Sydney or Melbourne. Or if you want to spend some time in the sun, Queensland’s Noosa, the Gold Coast or the Cairns/Port Douglas region are all fantastic options. You can choose to stay in a hotel, Airbnb or self-catering accommodation such as an apartment, which might be better if you have a young family.
Dunedin might not be the first place you think of for a winter getaway but it’s got heaps to offer and a fascinating history. Jacqui Rowe wants to explore some of the great walks in the area but even if you just want to walk around the city, you can enjoy beautiful historical buildings such as the Dunedin Railway Station and Otago University, the world’s steepest street, Baldwin Street, and some amazing street artwork. Dunedin is also the gateway to the Otago Peninsula, home to Larnach Castle, built in 1871 and restored in the latter half of last century, the Royal Albatross Centre and breeding colonies of Little Blue Penguins and rare Yellow-eyed Penguins, who reside there year-round. And the Speights Brewery is open from 10am to 5pm in winter!
Liz Haugh reminded us we have an amazing island getaway a bit closer to home than Fiji or the Cook Islands - Stewart Island/Rakiura. She loves the wildlife and beautiful scenery and the chance to relax in a simpler, slower lifestyle but you can be as busy as you want with the island offering bird-watching, hunting, fishing and diving, fantastic star-gazing, and a lively arts and culture scene. And, believe it or not, the annual rainfall is less than half of that of Auckland!
If you have other ideas for a great winter getaway, post them on our Facebook page. Also check out our other tips on how to thrive this winter.