Winter is a great time to visit the Southern Hemisphere for some fun in the sun without melting in the summer heat. Experiencing the cold months back home in another part of the world — particularly an Australian winter vacation — is an amazing opportunity to explore different landscapes. No matter what you dream of doing, an Australia winter vacation has it all. You can soak up the sunshine, surf, and enjoy Great Barrier Reef adventures in Queensland, head to Western Australia to witness a sea of wildflowers, or visit Victoria to face the snow and ski on the slopes. This summer, the Southern Hemisphere is calling your name.
Did you miss out on your skiing fix this winter in the Northern Hemisphere? Well, do yourself a favor and make up for this oversight by leaving summer behind and heading Down Under for an unforgettable ski day trip. In Australia, the Snowy Mountains region in Kosciuszko National Park has got you covered, while Perisher Valley in New South Wales is home to the Southern Hemisphere's largest ski area, so its diverse array of terrain will keep everyone from beginner to advanced skiers content. Its next-door neighbor is Thredbo, which garners attention for offering Australia's longest ski runs.
Across the border in Victoria, you'll find Mount Hotham, which has one of the nation's best ski-in/ski-out resorts. It's perfect for advanced skiers, professional après-skiers, and cross-country skiers, with over 20 miles of trails. Nearby, Falls Creek ticks all of these boxes, too, with over 40 miles of cross-country skiing trails, 92 uncrowded runs, and excellent ski-in/ski-out lodgings. The day temperature hovers in the low 40s during winter in these destinations, so pack accordingly.
Meanwhile, if you crave a skiing or snowboarding holiday with freezing temperatures slightly closer to home, head to the Andes Mountains in Chile and Argentina, where the powder will be perfect. As the world's longest mountain range at 4,300 miles with record-breaking peaks, visitors can expect awe-inspiring adventures of a lifetime.
There are both internationally renowned resorts and hidden gems to choose from. Valle Nevado in Chile is one of the most popular and coziest ski-in/ski-out resorts, with dry powder snow, perfectly groomed runs, delicious cuisine, and convenient access to the international airport. Meanwhile, Nevados de Chillan offers tree skiing and impressive terrain naturally carved from ancient lava flows. Unwind in one of their hot springs after a day of fun on the slopes.
In Argentina, Las Leñas Resort is the country's most popular winter sports destination, thanks to its steep terrain, massive backcountry, and vibrant nightlife. Seeing as South America is known for its lively nightlife, don't be surprised if the party lasts until the sun rises. While in this region, don't miss the opportunity to visit the spirited capital cities, Santiago and Buenos Aires. Both Santiago and Buenos Aires are known for their array of museums and galleries, world-class restaurants and bustling bars, admirable architecture, and energetic nightlife.
Winter in the Southern Hemisphere brings the opportunity for incredible wildlife encounters. In Australia, adrenaline junkies will enjoy the thrill of getting up close and personal with wildlife encounter tours for great white sharks off the Neptune Islands in South Australia. Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions operates the world's only ocean floor cage diving experience. But if you don't have your scuba certification, there are surface cage dives available, too. Either way, during winter there are typically a high number of large great white sharks (up to 16 feet) circling this area. Locking eyes with these giants of the sea is an unparalleled adrenaline rush.
If you'd prefer to do some wildlife watching from a distance, head out on a whale watching tour in Hervey Bay. Between July and November, thousands of migrating humpback whales pass through Hervey Bay's gentle waters on their epic migration journey. Whales and calves in this area are known for their playful antics, so keep your fingers crossed for a show of a lifetime. Alternatively, when visiting New Zealand, head to Kaikoura to go whale watching and see several different migrating whale species.
A final place to go whale watching is along the Whale Discovery Trail on Phillip Island. This destination is most well-known for being home to the world's largest Little Penguin colony. See the cute animals waddle to their homes amongst the island's sandy shores after a hard day at sea every evening at the Penguin Parade. Seeing them muster the courage to leave the ocean behind is an endearing sight like no other.
Winter is actually the perfect time to visit Africa too, as it coincides with its dry season. This works in your favor, as water scarcity means animals typically gather in groups around permanent waterholes and rivers. The vegetation is also less lush, so not only are animals easier to find, but they're also easier to view from a distance. Picture watching animals at the local watering hole from the comfort of your safari lodge, like a front-row seat to a nature documentary. Just remember to pack a jacket for cool nights and early morning drives.
From July to September, take your pick of safari destinations. The Great Migration of millions of zebras, wildebeest, and gnu occurs across Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve. Then there's Hwange in Zimbabwe, the country's largest game reserve, Namibia's Etosha National Park, and Kruger National Park in South Africa. In Botswana, winter is the perfect time of year to take a mokoro (traditional canoe) tour around the Okavango Delta to marvel at the massive herds that congregate at its shores. Finally, winter is also the time to get up close to mountain gorillas in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Because this is peak season in Uganda, there are a higher number of gorilla trekkers available and the minimal rainfall translates to ideal hiking conditions.
It's evident that when you travel to Australia in winter, you won't be bored. But it's important to note that there are multiple climates at play during winter in Australia, so there are different experiences available from top to bottom. For example, you can soak up the sunshine in tropical Northern Australia, embrace winter on the ski slopes, or cozy up by a fireplace in Tasmania.
Now, if you'd prefer sand to snow, head directly to the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast. Winter is the dry season in Northern Australia, which translates to minimal rainfall and increased water visibility for reef adventures. You can pack away any winter clothing when you head north, as it's t-shirt and shorts weather year-round.
Now, if your idea of the perfect winter vacation centers around good food and wine, visit the world-renowned Barossa Valley in South Australia and Yarra Valley in Victoria. Spend your days traveling locally as you take in the lush green surrounding scenery and get snug by a fireplace, as you sample some of the best wine and cheese Australia has to offer. In the Yarra Valley, be enticed by the open fireplace, seasonal menu, and fine wine at Tarrawarra Estate. Alternatively, the award-winning cellar door at Hentley Farm in the Barossa is housed in a cozy 19th-century cottage. With exposed stone walls, an open fireplace, and wood beam ceilings, it looks like it was plucked directly from the English countryside. When hunger strikes, head to the award-winning restaurant onsite.
Tasmania is Australia's capital of cozy. So when you're not staying awake to seek the Southern Lights, embark on the Tasmanian Whisky & Spirits Trail to sample some of the world's finest single malts. Alternatively, visit Dark Mofo, an exclusive Tasmanian festival held at Mona in Hobart. Celebrating the darkness of the winter solstice, it includes musical performances, large-scale light installations, art shows, and a winter feast to rival all feasts.
When you're dreaming up your next summer getaway, consider an Australia vacation or a journey through the Southern Hemisphere filled with adventure, new experiences, and great weather.