Winter in Southland should be your choice of season to visit.

June to August

Temperatures between 10°C and 0°C

As the seasons shift, days get shorter, and a crisp chill fills the air. Murihiku Southland transforms. Unlike other parts of the country that experience mild winters, Southland wholeheartedly embraces the colder months, cloaking itself in a frosty embrace and inviting visitors to experience a winter wonderland unlike any other.

Imagine waking up to a world painted in shades of white, the mountain peaks dusted with fresh snow and the valleys carpeted in a frosty dew. The air, invigoratingly cool at an average of 5°C (41°F), is a refreshing change from the summer heat, and the occasional gentle snowfall adds a touch of magic to the landscape. This is the winter wonderland that awaits you in Southland.

With multi-day festivals, some of the best stargazing in the world, easy access to the slopes (only 2 hours from Invercargill, you'll find the Remarkables skifield) and plenty of belly-warming food, you don't want to miss your chance to experience Southland in winter. So, rug up, bring your merinos and come down and explore winter Southland style. 


Lake Hauroko - Western Southland

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Unmissable Events in Southland

Beyond the captivating scenery, Southland offers a treasure trove of unmissable events during the winter months. If you love all things country music, make your way down to Gore, the country music capital of New Zealand, to attend the ten-day Tussock Country Music Festival. It's a vibrant celebration of Kiwi culture embracing music, fine art, heritage, top-notch hospitality, whiskey tastings and high-street fashion. With over 30 events, including the legendary Gold Guitar Awards, that old line 'there's something for everyone' has never been more true. Held annually in July, the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards is a competitive platform for all amateur fashion designers to showcase their designs to well-regarded industry leaders. If you have a passion for fashion, don't miss out on planning your winter trip to Southland.

Cultural Delights: A Taste of Southland

Southland's culinary scene is another delightful aspect of winter. The region boasts an abundance of fresh, local produce that finds its way onto plates in innovative and heartwarming dishes. Savour the world-famous Bluff oysters, known for their plump size and delicate flavour. Enjoy them fresh, natural, or with a squeeze of lemon for a taste of pure indulgence. Sample the tender meat of Fiordland wapiti, a type of red deer native to the Fiordland National Park. This succulent meat, often prepared as a roast or steak, is sure to tantalize your taste buds. Or try some other local delicacies such as cheese rolls, swedes, and Southland Blue Cod - all dished up with a good dash of Southern hospitality. 


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Unique Winter Activities in Southland

Visiting Southland in winter is an absolute ‘must do’ for anyone passionate about the natural world and authentic encounters. This wild coast is home to an array of marine life, including sea lions, Pahu Hector’s Dolphins and the distinctive Hoiho Yellow-Eyed Penguin. As the nights get longer, take a trip to Stewart Island to spot the rare kiwi bird in its natural habitat.

Southland is known for amazing views with its seemingly endless daytime sky that turns into a stargazer's paradise by night. From Te Rua-o-te-Moko Fiordland in the west to Dark Sky Sanctuary Rakiura Stewart Island in the south, our region offers one of the darkest locations in the world to view the night sky - as the centre of the galaxy passes almost directly over your head.

The spectacular stargazing and Aurora Australis spotting make winter in Southland even more special. When darkness falls the celestial theatre comes alive with the mesmerizing dance of the Southern Lights, the Aurora Australis. With extended hours of darkness, you have ample opportunity to lose yourself in the awe-inspiring spectacle above.

Our region is home to nearly half of New Zealand's Great Walks! Most of these close over Winter due to potentially dangerous alpine crossings and avalanches. However, one of these amazing walks is open year-round: the Rakiura Track. Stewart Island’s weather is cool yet settled during the winter months, making the Rakiura Track a great winter escape. 

It may appear Invercargill is obsessed with anything that has wheels. Visit Bill Richardson Transport World, which holds the largest private collection of its type in the world, or see the illustrious display of motorcycles at Classic Motorcycle Mecca. Check out Invercargill's motorcycle legend of speed, Burt Munro, at E. Hayes and Sons Motorworks.

Tumu Toka Curioscape in Curio Bay is an essential stop for all visitors to the south. This world-class interpretive centre intends to educate and share the unique stories of Curio Bay, its wildlife, people, and history. Within the Gateway Experience, touch screens allow you to tailor your experience, and the immersive theatre is a must-see. 

Although Southland has no ski fields, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on your winter sports activities. Head down to Ice Sports Southland at Gore Multisports Complex and try your hand (or broom) at curling or strap your skates and show off your double axel turns. This family-friendly activity is the perfect way to embrace the winter spirit and create lasting memories with your loved ones. As the day draws to a close, unwind and soak in the warmth of a hot tub surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Several locations throughout Southland offer this unique and rejuvenating experience, allowing you to melt away the day's chills and reconnect with nature's tranquil beauty.

Planning Your Winter Getaway

So, if you're seeking an escape from the ordinary, a place where winter unfolds its magic in a unique and captivating way, then pack your warm clothes and head to Southland. Embrace the crisp air, indulge in the region's culinary delights, and discover the unforgettable experiences that await you in this winter wonderland.

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