In the heat of the Australian summer, dreaming is about all you can do when it comes to enjoying a white Christmas. However, increasing numbers of Aussies and Kiwis are also choosing to get festive in the middle of winter. It’s known as Christmas in July and brings plenty of opportunities to rug up and enjoy some snow. Here are six ideas for a snowy Christmas in July across Australia and New Zealand.
Remember to book your stay in each of these winter wonderlands at ChoiceHotels.com.
1. Head for the high country from Wangaratta
It doesn’t generally snow in Wangaratta – located in north-eastern Victoria – but the snow is definitely within easy reach! Wangaratta offers convenient access to several of Victoria’s premier ski fields, including Mount Buffalo and Mount Hotham. In less than two hours, you can be skiing, snowboarding or making snow angels, before returning to Wangaratta to enjoy a good red from the King Valley and a selection of produce from the Milawa Gourmet Region. Wangaratta is also the starting point of The Great Alpine Road – a scenic touring route, which is open all year. It’s especially beautiful in winter.
Need a place to stay? The Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway was recently awarded the prestigious International Quality Hotel of the Year award. This 4.5-star accommodation option offers a range of stylish and sophisticated room types, including the superb Studio Spa Apartments.
2. Make for Melbourne’s Lake Mountain
While it may feel like icicles are forming on the end of your nose as you step outside during a Melbourne winter, the reality is that it rarely snows in the Victorian capital. But Melbourne does have a snow field in relatively close proximity – Lake Mountain – and plenty of locals do the two-hour drive each way as a day trip. Lake Mountain comes complete with picturesque chalets, snow-capped mountain peaks and slopes crisscrossed with ski tracks and toboggan runs. If you just want to sit back, relax and stop worrying about snow chains, book a Lake Mountain snow tour with Wildlife Tours. Back in Melbourne, the frosty fun continues at O’Brien Icehouse in the Docklands, which offers year-round ice skating in its twin arenas.
Need a place to stay? If you want to position yourself to save time on the drive to Lake Mountain, consider the Quality Hotel Manor in Mitcham (1.30 hours’ drive).
3. Carve it up at Canberra’s Corin Forest
Australia’s captivating capital is packed with amazing things to do in winter and camping out by the open fire in some of the city’s best bars and restaurants is right up there. Try renowned Monster Kitchen and Bar, chic Bacaro Wine Bar at Italian and Sons, and super cool Bar Rochford on London Court. Canberra is also a great base for hitting the snow, but before you mount a major expedition to Thredbo or Jindabyne (as awesome as they are), consider Corin Forest Mountain Resort. It’s just 45 minutes’ drive from the city centre and offers recreational snow cover throughout winter.
Need a place to stay? Quality Hotel Dickson Canberra is perfectly located as a base for exploring everything the capital has to offer. The hotel is just a few minutes’ drive from the Australian War Memorial, Telstra Tower, the National Gallery of Australia, and so much more.
4. Enjoy the crisp mountain air in the Grampians
Victoria’s Grampians are a must-visit at any time of year, but they’re extra amazing in winter. There are fewer visitors, higher than usual waterfall flows, and that clean mountain air to savour. If you’re lucky, you may even get to feel the crunch of powder under your feet and be able to rustle up a snow ball or two on Mount William. At 1,167 metres, this is the highest point in the Grampians National Park and is intermittently carpeted in snow. The peak offers incredible 360-degree views of the entire range and the open plains beyond.
5. Take a winter break in Taupo
Located by magnificent Lake Taupo in the very heart of New Zealand’s North Island, the bustling town of Taupo takes everything that’s great about winter and rolls it all up into one neat package. Let’s start with the skiing. Nearby Mount Ruapehu is New Zealand’s largest ski field, and you can be on your first downhill run in just over an hour. Taupo is also renowned for its geothermal activity (Lake Taupo occupies what was once a volcano) and there are some seriously awesome thermal springs to enjoy across the region. Soak away your cares, then go for a lakeside stroll with the snow-capped peaks of Tongariro National Park rising in the distance.
Need a place to stay? Surrounded by seven hectares of gardens and a vineyard, Quality Suites Huka Falls offers a supremely tranquil stay just a few minutes’ drive from the Taupo town centre and stunning Huka Falls.
6. Enjoy Blenheim’s best by the open fire
Down on the South Island, Blenheim is the gateway to the esteemed Marlborough wine region and is blessed with sunshine for most of the year. But even here, it’s possible to hit the slopes in winter. The popular Rainbow Ski Area is located just an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from the Blenheim town centre at the northern end of the soaring Southern Alps. Afterwards, hit the Winter Fireplace Trail – a self-guided exploration of a lengthy list of wineries, restaurants and bars in the region that feature an open fireplace. The list includes Wairau River Wines – one of Marlborough’s oldest wineries, and Saint Clair Family Estate – which is renowned for its award-winning drops.
Need a place to stay? Quality Hotel Marlborough makes the perfect base from which to discover everything Blenheim has to offer. There are plenty of wineries within easy reach, and you can walk to the town centre with ease.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.