New Zealand has a temperate climate not dissimilar to that of the British Isles, but with one large difference. It is south of the equator, so the seasons are basically reversed. December through February, for example, is New Zealand’s summer. Fall takes place during March through May, while winter is June through August. New Zealand’s winters tend to be mild with temperatures between 35 and 60 degrees F.
Skiing in New Zealand
New Zealand consists of two big islands, creatively called the North Island and the South Island, plus 600 smaller islands. New Zealand mountains are popular destinations for skiers and can be found on both islands. The North Island is home to New Zealand’s biggest commercial ski area which is located on Mt. Ruapehu, the only skiable active volcano in the country.
The South Island has three main skiing regions with top-flight ski schools and accommodations ranging from backpackers’ hostels to luxurious lodges. Christchurch – Canterbury is the northernmost skiing area on the South Island. Visitors may also try their hand at snowshoeing or cross-country skiing or even check out the local glaciers.
The Mount Cook Mackenzie region is home to Mt. Cook or Aoraki, the tallest mountain in New Zealand. Beginners will feel more at home on Mt. Dobson. Three quarters of the surrounding acreage are dedicated to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
Queenstown – Wanaka is the southernmost region, and it is home to four resorts. Queenstown is also the site of an annual Winter Festival that takes place at the beginning of winter.
Anybody who needs to buy or rent skis should consult a ski sizing chart. Skis are measured in centimeters. As a rule of thumb, experienced skiers and taller people should get long skis, while novices and shorter people should get short skis.
“Home of Middle-Earth”
Peter Jackson, who is himself a Kiwi, filmed “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” in many parts of New Zealand. Not surprisingly, many of those places are now tourist attractions. The most impressive might be Hobbiton. Visitors can explore the hobbit holes, including Bag End where Bilbo and Frodo lived, and they can visit the Green Dragon Inn. There are also hiking and helicopter tours of places traveled by Bilbo and his dwarven companions in “The Hobbit.”
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and have lived there for over a thousand years. Some tribes invite tourists onto their marae or tribal meeting grounds. The Maori will then take the visitors on a tour and educate them about their culture. They might talk about their history or mythology. They might demonstrate their weaving and carving techniques. Visitors may also see traditional dancing. The Maori may also invite tourists to join them for a hangi feast, with a hangi being an earth oven used to slowly steam food.
New Zealand has its share of museums for those days when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor activities. The Rotorua Museum, which began life as a bathhouse in 1908, is famous for its architecture and is described as the “most photographed building” in the country. Since the 1980s, it has served as a history and art museum.
The Te Papa Museum in Wellington has existed in one form or another since 1865. Its collections are dedicated to five major areas: natural history, the Maori, other Pacific cultures, history and art. Some of the exhibits are temporary, while others are permanent. One temporary exhibit is “Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War” that will be at the museum until April 2019.
The Auckland War Memorial Musuem is the oldest museum in New Zealand. In addition to collections related to military history, it has massive collections of Maori and Pacific artifacts.
By: Vincent Stokes