Banff, Canada (Above)
Deep in the Canadian Rockies, Banff is home to a charming, family-friendly national park. Like dogs? Take a dog-sled ride. Love Christmas? There are horse-pulled sleigh rides. Want to take in the sights at a leisurely pace? Ride the cable cars – called gondolas – or chairlifts for sumptuous views of the snow-blanketed landscape. At the Banff Upper Hot Springs, you can soak in warm, mineral-enriched waters. Other great activities include nature walks through frozen vistas, ice skating or snow-shoeing – an activity that needs no special training. To fly to Banff, the nearest airport is in Calgary. Or travel from Seattle or Vancouver through scenic rail routes over one or two nights.
Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, Japan
Located in Nagano prefecture, the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park is popular with tourists for skiing, rock climbing, hiking and hot spring resorts – the typical, well-loved attractions of a snowy mountain tourist spot. Just over two hours away from Tokyo by train, this park is also known for the Jigokudani Monkey Park, where the native macques (called “snow monkeys”) attract plenty of fans. During winter, undeterred by snowfall, these monkeys are known to frolic around and dip in the local hot springs, sometimes even alongside human holidaymakers. Be tickled by how these primate pals relax in the onsen and pose unwittingly for photos.
South Island, New Zealand
The rugged South Island is the 12th largest island in the world, one marked by dramatic natural beauty. Due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere, winter takes place from June through August. If you’re a fantasy fan and movie buff, The Lord of the Rings tours here are well worth it. You can discover locations for settings that range from Edoras to Lothlorien, and the Fangorn Forest to the Pelennor Fields. The South Island is also an ideal vantage point for stargazing and viewing the aurora australis or Southern Lights. Apart from winter sports, an eye-opening outdoor activity to consider is an overnight boat cruise on Milford Sound, located in the majestic Fiordland region, which offers a tranquil respite from civilisation.