Daily Destination: Wanaka, New Zealand

Christy Karras
Christy Karras

In many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, late July is the hottest time of the year. But in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the deep of winter — and the height of ski season. Top-notch skiers can’t afford to take half the year off, so many of them head south to New Zealand’s “southern Alps” to practice their craft during our summer.

The national ski teams of Austria and Norway swoosh down the steep slopes of Treble Cone ski resort (pictured above). The country’s largest resort, Treble Cone sits on the side of a 6750-foot mountain with views over Lake Wanaka and the glacier-flanked peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park.

The closest town, Wanaka, is near four ski resorts, which opens up lots of possibilities. Set in the middle of New Zealand’s recreation-oriented southern island, the place has an eco-friendly ethos: Many restaurants boast locally sourced ingredients, and you’ll see buildings made from reclaimed materials.

Since many of New Zealand’s mountains rise from a base elevation close to sea level, it’s often possible to ski on pretty good snow during the day and walk snow-free paths in the evening.

Places to stay, from luxurious (Minaret Lodge) to budget (Mountain View Backpackers hostel), line Lake Wanaka and dot the hillsides above the lake. Many offer a relaxing local specialty, outdoor cedar hot tubs with views of surrounding mountains — the perfect way to end a day on the slopes.