When it's winter at the top of the globe, it's summer down under. December to March is the best time to visit the often-chilly southernmost parts of New Zealand and Tasmania. Keep in mind that if you go too far north, you'll run into sizzling summer heat. And don't forget your hat!
All of New Zealand's mountains and valleys, reefs and beaches are stunningly beautiful in the antipodeal summer, and this is an especially popular time to kayak the reefs and estuaries of Abel Tasman National Park. Located at the northwest end of the South Island, this small gem of a park provides unique opportunities for hiking (called "tramping" locally) and for guided sea kayaking/camping trips, introduced to the area more than a decade ago. New Zealand's climate is much like the rainy Pacific Northwest Coast of the US, and in the sunny summer season, this is the sunniest spot. Paddling between granite arches and other spectacular island rock formations, you'll have a chance to see seals, endangered blue penguins, gannets, wekas, and oystercatchers, and other marine species.
Tasmania, the southernmost extremity of Australia, is southern indeed, and January-February is the finest (though most expensive) time to be there, when the days are lo-o-o-ong and the weather's good. (Though temperatures may be a bit brisk even in January.) Tasmania's cozy, English-inspired towns are jumping-off points for its wild bush, one of the world's last unconquered places. Few roads cross the Tasmanian Wilderness, and walking is the best way to get around there. Hike, camp, and raft this unique land, populated by plants and animals you won't find anywhere else. Macquarie Island, three days by sea south of Tasmania, is a Tasmanian island that's officially part of the Antarctic, and you'll see elephant seals, albatross, penguins—kings, rockhoppers, royals, and gentoos—and other marine wildlife in overwhelming profusion.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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