5 last-minute destinations to escape winter

Kathmandu ambassadors Alesha and Jarryd are professional photographers, writers and founders of adventure travel blog NOMADasaurus. They’ve been exploring the world together since 2008, searching for culture and adventure in off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Winter has well and truly set in around Australia and New Zealand. The ski lifts are turning and it’s a perfect time to shred the slopes. But for those more interested in an eternal summer, it can be a long wait.

Luckily there’s a number of places that are only a short flight from Australia and New Zealand where the summer life is in full swing. Even if you can only manage a few days off work, here are our best last-minute destinations to escape winter.

1) Lombok, Indonesia

Most Aussies looking for a quick international getaway head to Bali to take advantage of the cheap prices, delicious food, friendly people and excellent weather. If you want to avoid the crowds though, consider a trip to neighbouring Lombok instead.

Lombok is only a short flight or ferry ride from Denpasar, and here you’ll find pristine beaches and dense jungle without the hordes of tourists.

The surfing and scuba diving in Lombok is impeccable, and if you are feeling really active you can climb Mount Rinjani, the tallest mountain on the island. The ultra-chill Gili Islands are a short boat ride away as well.

For those feeling adventurous, Mt Rinjani comes with some epic views
For those feeling adventurous, Mt Rinjani comes with some epic views

2) Fiji

If you’re after some Pacific vibes, then taking a short trip to the gorgeous archipelago of Fiji is a brilliant way to get your tropical island fix.

With palm-fringed beaches that you’re likely to find on postcards and a chilled out, relaxed atmosphere, Fiji is a great destination to escape the winter months.

Take a quick surfing, snorkelling or diving trip, or instead find a hammock overlooking the sea and soak up some vitamin D. There’s also great opportunities to head out into the mountains for some hiking, and check out some traditional Fijian dancing.

Flight and hotel specials from Australia and New Zealand are always popping up, so keep an eye out with your favourite travel agent.

3) Langkawi, Malaysia

Every now and then you just want to leave winter behind and have an action-packed few days of exhilarating water sports, ziplining through forests, feasting on delicious local cuisine and admiring kaleidoscope-like sunsets over glistening seas. And when you’re ready for that, head to Langkawi in Malaysia.

Just a short flight from Kuala Lumpur, which has connections to just about everywhere, this island paradise has become a booming tourist destination in Southeast Asia. The quality of holiday you can get for the price is incredible, with amazing accommodation options for every budget.

Most visitors end up taking advantage of experiences like parasailing, jet skiing, snorkelling and hiking, making Langkawi a location teeming with fun and perfect for a short getaway.

As a bonus Malaysian food is some of the tastiest on the planet, so don’t be surprised if you come back from your break a few kilos heavier, even with all the activities you’ll be taking part in.

4) Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Only four hours from Auckland in the heart of the Pacific Ocean is the spectacular Cook Islands, with Rarotonga being the largest and most developed island in the archipelago.

Winter is the best time to visit the Cook Islands, with warm, calm weather ensuring you’ll forget all about the freezing temperatures back home. There’s no shortage of things to do on the islands either. The marine life is thriving here, so grab a snorkel and your buddies and hit the sea or go on a hike through some of the magnificent wilderness.

If you’re just looking for a chilled long weekend away from work, then Rarotonga has you covered. Package deals with excellent prices are common for trips here if you’d prefer to have your flights and accommodation sorted together.

The view from The Needle, the top of the Rarotonga Cross Island Trail
The view from The Needle, the top of the Rarotonga Cross Island Trail

5) Cairns, Australia

Wintertime in Cairns is the perfect time to visit, with cooler temperatures and lower humidity making the weather remarkably pleasant compared to the summer months.

Whether you come for a weekend or a month, you’ll find a host of amazing things to do here, especially if you love being in the ocean. Cairns is the gateway to the iconic Great Barrier Reef, meaning some of the world’s best snorkelling and scuba diving is literally on its doorstep.

Go out for a day trip to the reef, or step it up a notch by going on a short liveaboard tour that can get you out to some of the more pristine and remote sections of this stunning natural wonder.

If you’d rather stay on land, check out the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park, explore the rainforest at Kuranda or simply kick back and enjoy the vibrant town.

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