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10 Winter Getaway Spots

Section
Travel,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 1 May 2013, 12:00AM
When winter hits, you have two options: flee for the tropics or relish the fantastic opportunities a little closer to home. A mid-winter getaway is a fantastic way to beat the winter blues. Whether you want to hibernate in luxury or head into the great outdoors to see some spectacular scenery, here are 10 of our favourite spots.


1. St Bathans, Central Otago
This may well be the hidden treasure of Central Otago. St Bathans sits at the foot of the Dunstan mountains northwest of Naseby. It's popular with cyclists travelling the region's rail trail, which passes near, though not through, the town. It's situated next to the stunning Blue Lake, which has an easy 2km walking track around it and is surrounded by an almost eerie rocky landscape caused by a mixture of mining and the minerals within the rock. St Bathans is the perfect spot from which to explore further afield in Central Otago or to simply hole up with a good book and a bottle of pinot.




2. Snowy Mountains - New South Wales
The Snowy Mountains are the highest and only true Alpine region in Australia, with large natural snowfalls every winter. Nestled in the mountains are world-class ski resorts that attract hundreds of thousands of skiers each winter. Although Australia’s snow season is quite short by international standards - June to October, the facilities available in the main centres of Thredbo, Blue Cow and others cater for all tastes and levels of expertise.




3. Tongariro National Park, Central Plateau
Sightseeing, hiking, tramping, trekking, skiing and adventure in the Tongariro National Park awaits you. Enjoy an exhilarating winter adventure at a park that offers spectacular scenery covered in glistening snow and amazing experiences. The Tongariro Crossing is definitely one of the jewels in the crown and right on your doorstep is Turoa and Whakapapa ski fields. The surrounding towns offer a myriad of options to visitors and locals alike.




4. Matakana, north of Auckland
Aucklanders flock to the delights of Matakana in summer, drawn by the nearby beaches, and alfresco dining. But this picturesque settlement, 50 minutes out of the city, also makes a perfect winter escape. The farmers market held every Saturday is a mecca for lovers of fresh and artisan produce, and food in those cafes tastes as good eaten indoors as out. You can make the rounds of local wineries, or walk the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, a 2km ever-changing trail of art works by emerging and established New Zealand artists. A great way to spend a wintry afternoon, followed, of course by a glass of something nice at the adjoining vineyard.




5. Barossa Valley - South Australia
It's the wine capital of Australia; the Barossa Valley is a tranquil friendly place, being known all over the world for its quality wines. A home to many major wine producers this area produces over half of the countries wine. To the east flows the Murray River which is one of the largest river systems in the world. A lush paradise with a wide variety of attractions, from watersports to wildlife and of course delicious fruits and wine. Winter bliss!




6. Rotorua, Bay of Plenty
When it comes to warming up it's hard to go past iconic Rotorua. Frosty, cold mornings promise clear and sunny days in Rotorua. There are plenty of gorgeous spa facilities offering relaxation and luxurious treatments, including geothermal hot pools, massage and mud baths, making the most of Rotorua's mineral-packed mud and other local ingredients such as manuka honey. Of course, you could also keep warm in Rotorua with a little adrenalin-pumping bungy, challenging New Zealand’s best MTB tracks, seeking trophy trout on scenic lakes, a luge ride or walking spectacular forest, bush or lake trails.




7. Hunter Valley, NSW Australia
Just 2 hour’s drive north of Sydney is one of Australia’s premier winery destinations - Hunter Valley. If you're looking for a winter holiday escape then you really can't go past the Hunter Valley. Winter in Wine Country is a beautiful time of the year, with clear blue skies and mild temperatures during the day and cozy fireplaces and winter-warming food at night. Even in winter, the Hunter Valley is a sight to be seen. The wine, the cheese and of course the scenery - the stark contrast of the dormant grapevines and display of flowers in the vineyards will delight every photographer. Hunter Valley has a lot more to offer travellers than 100+ famous winery’s - Barrington Tops National Park, high on the Great Dividing Range, invites walkers, campers and climbers. Plus Australia’s second oldest city, Newcastle, has mine tours, historical sites and a range of fine eateries for travellers.




8. Port Waikato, Waikato
Wrapping up warmly and tramping the sand dunes of Port Waikato is a mighty good way to clear the head in mid-winter. The Port, as locals call it, is a mere hour's drive south of Auckland, and is another small, unspoilt location that embraces its Kiwiana. The town, situated where the Waikato River hits the Tasman Sea, is a popular spot for surfers year round, but if you've left your winter wetsuit behind, this is a gorgeous place to simply while away a couple of days doing very little.




9. Hawke's Bay, North Island
Foodies will be very happy in the Bay, with its combination of gorgeous art deco Napier, pretty Hastings, and even prettier Havelock North. The region is home to one of the country's biggest farmers' markets and, of course, some of its best-known, most successful wine producers. In the food stakes be sure to visit Telegraph Hill Olivery, Te Mata Cheese Company, St Andrews Limes and Rush Munro's Ice Cream Garden. If you head to Napier in July, you'll find it in full swing hosting the city's art deco event, including parades, tours, concerts and dinners all celebrating the city's architecture.




10. Wanaka, Central Otago
Central Otago is the region that does a New Zealand winter better than anywhere. Yes it can be eye-wateringly cold, but Wanaka, like much of Central, specialises in those still, clear, frosty days that are the best thing about the season. With four ski and snowboard resorts - Treble Cone, Cardrona, Snow Farm and Snow Park - and Mt Aspiring National Park within easy distance, Wanaka is a playground for the adventurous. Yet it retains some of the small-town charm that is harder to find in its flashier neighbour, Queenstown. The scenery is breathtaking, and even if snow sports aren't your thing, there's plenty to do - try jet-boating or trout-fishing, take a scenic flight or a horse trek. The options are endless.



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