Overseas doctors considering New Zealand should know that winter is a fabulous time to explore the ‘land of the long white cloud’. June, July and August in New Zealand can be stunningly beautiful, with snow-capped mountains, glacial rivers and turquoise blue lakes. On top of this, there is hardly anyone else around. While tourists and school holiday crowds do flock to our world-class ski fields and winter festival attractions, New Zealand’s beaches, native bush and coastal walks tend to remain virtually deserted. And, as its the off-season for many accommodation providers and summer tour operators, winter is the perfect time to save money while travelling.
New Zealand winters may be considered mild by northern hemisphere standards, with average sea-level temperatures ranging from winter lows of 10°C (50°F) in the north, to 1°C (33.8°F) in the deep south. High country, alpine and ski-field areas generally have heavy snowfalls in the winter and more dramatic temperature fluctuations. Wilderness adventurers should make provisions for rugged conditions; our picturesque landscapes at close-proximity can become quite wild and unforgiving.
New Zealand’s winter charms have long lured visitors from around the globe, many searching out the delights of powder-soft ski slopes. Depending on whether you wish to join them or want to know how to avoid the places where the crowds are, first-rate ski-fields can be found in both the North and South Islands. Two long established fields in the North Island are Mt Ruapehu’s large and well-known ski areas, Turoa and Whakapapa which cater for beginners as well as speedy powder hounds. The central plateau area that cradles Mt Ruapehu is also a perfect place to explore mountain bike and hiking trails, traverse Mt Tongariro and seek out the steaming thermal pools at Tukaanu. Taupo, Ohakune and Turangi are ideal places to stay, with easy access to all the wonders the plateau has to offer.
The South Island, with the majestic Southern Alps running down its spine, offers eighteen commercial ski fields spanning from the Rainbow ski area near Nelson to the Remarkables ski-field just south-west of Queenstown. While there are more geothermal pools and hot springs in the North Island, the South Island also has naturally occurring pools. The most well-known of the southern spots are Hanmer Springs and Maruia Springs, while in Westland you can soak in the fabulous, and free, Welcome Flat pools if you are up for the bush walk to reach them (of course you are!).
In the north, without a doubt the best place to experience New Zealand’s geothermal marvels is Rotorua and surrounding area. Rotorua boasts ancient geysers, bubbling mud pools, hot springs, Maori cultural experiences and dazzling lakes where the steam rises up to meet the crisp winter air. Wherever you happen to be placed with Ochre Recruitment, in New Zealand you can be assured an outdoors hot soak is never very far away.
For quieter, less peopled places and activities during New Zealand’s winter months, a road trip can lead you through sleepy villages, misty mountain passes, past stunning waterfalls, fern-covered gorges and black sand beaches. You might want to go whale watching in Kaikoura without the press of the summer crowds, visit the world-renown vineyards in Marlborough or Otago, be gastronomically adventurous at the Hokitika Wild Food Festival or discover beaches in the Coromandel where you can dig your own hot pool in the sand.
Discover the importance to us of Mataariki; a Maori New Year/Thanksgiving celebration where, echoing the night stars which gather closer in winter, we gather our loved ones around us, remember those who have passed and eat delicious food. You might want to get completely off the beaten track by visiting Stewart Island for close encounters with our feathered wildlife, or maybe an eco-walk or helicopter ride across glacier country to experience the magic of Fox Glacier, Lake Mathieson and Franz Josef Glacier appeals.
With Ochre Recruitment, locum and permanent medical placements are available throughout our winter wonderland. Give our knowledgeable Recruitment Consultants a call today…and then get ready for adventure.