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11 Sep 2018

So much is said about the “Winter Blahs” – that time of year where the sun shines that little bit less, and everyone starts moping around at work. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Winter is a marvellous season, one that is often overlooked and overshadowed by summer. If you’re an active traveller who travels for the thrill of an adrenalin rush rather than photo-ops, winter is the travel season for you. We’ve put together a list of five of the top winter destinations that will have you thinking about winter travel differently.

Sweden’s Adventure Activities

Sweden is known for its incredible Swedish meatballs, music and excellent design. But if you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’re going to want more out of your winter holiday in Sweden, so we’ve found just the thing: leave the skiing and snowboarding for your usual tourists, because in Sweden you’re going sea skating.

Forget about the ice rinks of your youth. Sea skating in Sweden will see you traversing the frozen sea around Stockholm, speeding around the archipelago of more than 20,000 islands that help that ice stay frozen solid. This isn’t for the light hearted! While the sea is frozen, you’ll be taking a leap of faith so to speak, as the ice sheets have a danger zone where they meet open water. February is a great time to sea skate in Stockholm as it’s the coldest time of the year which guarantees a solid Baltic Sea for your skating pleasure! The best part is all you need is a good pair of speed skates, and renting them won’t cost the earth. An ice pick comes in handy, as do the ice-testing spears, which speak for themselves. After a day out on the ice, you can hit the amazing clubs and restaurants in Sweden’s capital city.

Travelling to Japan to ski and snowboard

Japan is one of the best countries in the world if you’re looking for rich, cultural experiences. Everyone knows about how amazing Kyoto and Osaka are, and visiting Tokyo is like being in another world. But not a lot of travellers know how exciting it can be, especially when it comes to winter sports.

Did you know that Hokkaido, the most northern point of Japan’s four islands, gets over 500 inches of snow a year? Considered to be the best powder in the world by skiing and snowboarding professionals, the island’s 6,000-foot-plus Hidaka Range has some of the best runs in this part of the world. Daisetsuzan National Park is exactly where you can get your winter wonderland on as you slice down vertical runs and swerve through "snow monster trees".Once you’ve had enough of the slopes you can take yourself and your sore muscles to the rustic/iconic Lodge Nutapu-Kaushipe for an unforgettable and much needed soak in the region’s natural hot springs

And if you’re more of a climber than a skier, why not put your money where your mouth is and climb the iconic Mount Fuji? Japan’s tallest mountain at 12,388 feet has been worshipped by the Japanese and immortalised in their works of art for decades. It’s hard to see why: this stunning symmetrical volcanic cone stands proud in the surrounding landscape and can even be seen from Tokyo! This live volcano is open for climbing during our New Zealand winter, over July and August. You’ll also find more hot spring baths that can be enjoyed at ryokan and public bath houses across the Fuji Five Lake region. Some of the baths come with views of Mount Fuji, particularly those located along the north-eastern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko.

Oh Canada!

Who doesn’t love Canada? That massive country filled with polite, plaid-wearing and poutine-eating Canadians who’re eager to show you around! Winter visitors to Canada get exactly what they bargain for in the adventure stakes: skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, and hiking are some of the most popular winter past times, but the ultimate adventure activity has got to be…dog sledding. Winter holiday makers aren’t visiting Canada for the temperate climate – the temperatures hover around -20 below in March! Imagine yourself on the smooth, frozen tundra with bright aurora borealis dancing in the skies above you, lighting your way while you mush your own sled. And you’re not alone – the forests are covered in caribou, moose, foxes and, polar bears! As well as mushing those sleds, you’ll partake in some delicious whale blubber, build an igloo, and see some of the most exquisite scenery you’ve ever seen.

Say Hi to Hawaii!

Hawaii is known as the birthplace of surfing, and that’s why it makes perfect sense that it’s also home to the best places to catch waves. Surfing in Hawaii became popular in the 1950s when surfers would flock there for the waves of Makaha on Oahu’s west shore and Waimea Bay on the North Shore. The popular big wave season in Hawaii happens roughly between November and February on Hawaii’s north shores – and if you’re looking for challenging waves then that’s the time to travel to Hawaii. Some of the best surfing competitions in the world are held on Oahu’s North Shore in November and December including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing , which is like the Super Bowl of surfing, which brings thousands of people all over the world to watch, and a lucky few to compete!

You’re on Island Time

Can you think of a better place to chill out in the dead of winter? With so many islands at our feet, it can be hard to choose. Fiji, Samoa, Rarotonga, and Vanuatu all have incredible experiences to offer those of you who are hankering for a trip of a lifetime. Whether you’re looking for scuba diving, cliff jumping, snorkelling, sailing and more, the islands have it all. You just have to decide when to go – but the best time is anytime! For instance, in Rarotonga, there’s no off-season – everything is happening all the time, year ‘round. As for the weather, who can guarantee what it’ll be like, especially with the wild storms of recent years! The driest months are from May to October, and it’s warmest from January to March. Daytime Temperatures range between 23 and 30 degrees all year round, so it’s always sun-bathing and swimming weather! In Rarotonga, the beaches are pure white coral sand and run from the North-West to the South-East. This is where the deepest swimming and snorkeling parts of the lagoon can be found, particularly in the South (Titikaveka) and South East (Muri). The best beaches in Aitutaki are found on the uninhabited lagoon islands, but they’re often private and very expensive! Aitutaki still has many fine stretches of white sand beaches and safe lagoon areas on the main island, too.

Cruel Summer

Not all of us are winter lovers, but luckily for us, our New Zealand winters are pretty mild! Another bonus is that our winters are in reverse, meaning our winter seasons translate to summer seasons in other countries! If you still want adventure without the cold nipping at your nose, then travel during New Zealand winter – whether you’re travelling during our winter or someone else’s, we can help you prepare for you trip by keeping you covered with complete travel insurance at all times.

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