How to plan a winter-escape for $250


Is it just me, or is there something about winter than can make you go a little bit stir crazy? While winter is perfect for cosying up with a good book and cup of tea, getting into a bit of baking or binging on Netflix without feeling too guilty, sometimes you just need an excuse to get out of the house.

But luckily there’s a simple solution: head off on the perfect winter mini-escape! Regardless of the season, there are so many beautiful places to visit in our backyard – sometimes the hardest part is choosing where to go. But the best part is a quick winter holiday doesn’t need to be expensive – all you need is a bit of forward thinking and planning.

Set your budget
First things first: decide how much you’re able to spend on your winter mini-break and use that to determine how long you go away for, how far you travel and what activities you do.

We recently switched our power over to Genesis Energy who have an awesome offer at the moment where you get up to $250 off your first month’s electricity bill when you sign-up your home to a 12 month fixed term Happy Winter plan.

Not only is Genesis Energy’s pricing super competitive (so we’re looking set to actually save money on our power bill each month), but making the switch left us with $250 extra in our budget. Because our electricity bill comes in a lot higher during the winter months thanks to our trusty dryer and having the heating cranked up, we were able to get $250 off our first month’s bill –  and that became our winter mini-break budget!

Sounds pretty tight, right? It is, but it’s totally achievable if you plan your little holiday the right way.

Pick your destination
Let’s be honest, chances are you aren’t going to be able to pick up return airfares anywhere on this kind of budget – at least not if you need to pay for accommodation and activities too!

The trick is choosing a mini-break destination that’s an easy drive away – somewhere you can drive to and from on a tank of petrol. Not only does this help keep your costs down, but it also means you can make the most of your time away from home, actually getting out and exploring rather than spending half the day sitting in the car. For us, the Coromandel is the perfect destination – and if you get a good winter’s weekend, the beaches are just as beautiful as summer (though we’re not brave enough to take a dip!)


Think about activities
What are you actually going to do when you get there? Is just having a night away from home going to be enough, or will you want to head out and see some of the local sights? Before you get too set on your destination, have a quick think about what you’ll be able to do within your budget. A great way to keep your costs down while still having a great time is to make sure that there’s a good mix of free and paid activities – think nice walking tracks, window-shopping and hot pools!

Be clever with your accommodation
Accommodation is always one of the biggest costs when you have a night away, but there are loads of ways you can help keep this down. Why not see if any of your friends or family have a bach they wouldn’t mind you staying at for a night or two? If that’s not going to work, then booking a private room through Airbnb is a great option – not only are they super affordable, but there is usually a handful of options so you can find somewhere that suits you perfectly. If more traditional accommodation is your thing, then keep an eye on booking sites like Wotif to snag a great last-minute deal.

Still wondering whether it’s actually possible? Then check out how we managed to head away for a night with the $250 we saved, thanks to Genesis Energy:

Petrol We used a tank of petrol for the return trip. The trick was not driving too much when we arrived! $60
Accommodation We booked a lovely little private room in a house on the water through Airbnb near Whitianga which suited us perfectly. $90
Activities The weather ended up being so lovely that we spent all our time out and about enjoying the beach and bush walks. Instead, we used some of our budget for a nice drink by the water instead. $50
Food and drink We grabbed a few things from the cupboard at home (including a bottle of wine!) and picked up some chilled essentials for meals when we arrived at our destination. $50
TOTAL   $250

Want to head off on a winter-escape of your own? Then why not switch your home’s electricity to Genesis Energy on a 12 month Happy Winter plan – you’ll receive up to $250 off your first bill, which can absolutely be put towards a night out of the city. Pop over to Genesis Energy’s website for more info.


Thanks to the lovely team at Genesis Energy, I have a $100 Prezzy Card to give away to help one lucky reader head off on a winter mini-escape of their own. 

To be in to win, simply leave a comment below letting me know where you’d head off to on your winter mini-escape. It’s that easy!

Thanks to Genesis Energy for sponsoring this post and providing me with $250 credit on a Genesis Energy Happy Winter plan. All comments and photos are, and always will be, my own. Entries close 11.59pm Wednesday 10 August. The winners will be chosen at random and notified on Thursday 11 August. Each winner must make contact within 3 business days or they’ll forfeit the prize and a new winner will be drawn. Sorry – this giveaway is only open to New Zealand residents.

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  • Holly Jamieson

    I’d love to take my family (including my dog) to Sumner beach and have lunch with a view of the sea :) <3

  • Steve McConchie

    The Coromandel would have to be my “go to place” and your photo reminded me of how nice it can fe, even in winter

  • Rochelle Lisa Suddens


  • NC

    New Plymouth – I want to see the Len Lye Centre / Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

  • Karen Mabey

    I would love to go to the Coromandel to see Cathedral Cove when it’s not busy. :)

  • Stephanie

    I’d head to Whangarei! My best friend has just started a business up there so I’d love to be able to take a mini-break to visit!

  • Katherine T

    I would love to take my kids to the snow for the first time :-)

  • Maria Williamson

    I would like to have mini break in Rotorua and enjoy a relaxing bath in the mud. :)

  • Tina Lyford

    I’d head to Auckland. I’ve been promising my boys I’d take them to Rainbow end. We just had to save up:)

  • Helen Janes

    Foxton, so much to do like the windmill, the vintage shops and museums.

  • Whitney Power

    Akaroa Peninsula, it’s just so beautiful & tranquil. Perfect spot for a romantic weekend away.

  • John Georgie Deverell Oh

    Would head to Kuratau in Taupo – we just discovered it last summer when driving past and fell in love. We’re very keen to make it back!

  • Helen Janes

    Foxton, it has so many things to see and do in winter, from the windmill, awesome vintage shops, the flax museum and even a horse pulled carriage.

  • Clare Wall Shaw

    I’ve heard wonderful things about Raglan – so I’d head there. Nice and close too!

  • Sarah Janssen

    Love to go to wanaka for the weekend , we’re in INvercargill so not too far away to drive yt? Would love to show my girls the snow around central :)

  • jane nuttridge

    I would really like to go to Tekapo!! :)

  • Julie

    I would love to go to Hawkes Bay

  • Jason Alipao

    I would love to take my loving and hardworking wife Mae Lemana-Alipao to Cape Reinga (place of leaping spirits).. Where the Tasman Sea meets the mighty Pacific Ocean.. Cheers High Tea with Dragons and Genesis Energy!

  • Michelle Russell

    I would go to Queenstown for the views and some delicious places to eat!

  • Becks

    Love to pop down to Taupo.

  • Emily

    I would love to go absolutely anywhere right now, a change of scenery is much needed and if there’s sun even better :)

  • Stephanie Melville

    I’d head off to Raglan! It’s not too far away and the beach is still nice to visit in Winter! There is plenty to do there! :)

    • Kirsten

      Congratulations Stephanie – you’re the winner of a $100 Prezzy Card! Keep an eye on your inbox for more info coming to you shortly. Cheers, Kirsten

    • Kirsten Robinson

      Congratulations Stephanie, you’re the lucky winner! Please keep an eye on your inbox for more information :)

  • Mae Lemana-Alipao

    Mount Ruapehu because it is New Zealand’s largest winter playground.

  • Katie Moore

    I would love to go down to the south island to go snowboarding with my husband!

  • Angela Beaumont

    I would love to take the family to Hanmer Springs! It’s beautiful in Winter :-)

  • Rebecca MacDonald

    I want to do a weekend to the ultimate winter wonderland, Queenstown!

  • Kelly Blackie

    I’d really like to take our family to central Otago to celebrate my birthday next month

  • Tui Scales

    I’d head down to Rotorua, nothing nicer than a dip in a thermally heated river when it’s cold out

  • Brooke Robertson-Cox

    I’d love to take my husband and four kids to the snow.. They have never been and keep asking ❤️

  • Sarah

    One day we’ll go down to Lake Tekapo for a winter escape, but for now we still have a good time simply going up to the big smoke in Auckland for a couple of nights.

  • The Years Are Short

    We’d go to Kaka Point in the Catlins, my grandparents lived there when I was a teenager and I have fond memories of winter beach walks and Nana’s scones & soup :)

  • Katyanne Topping

    I would head down to Rotorua and make the most of the thermal hot pools with their healing properties. Nothing like a nice dip on a cold winters day.

  • Nikky Winchester

    We live in Pukerua Bay, and moved here 7 years ago from the UK. Sadly, after a year my husband fell ill and lost his job, so money has been very tight ever since and a holiday anywhere would be a huge treat! But if I had to choose I think I would either take my daughter over to the Wairarapa (because she’s never been) or have the luxury of an overnight stay in central Wellington so we can finally explore all the yummies available at the Harbourside Market (we’re not morning people…).

  • Deborah

    I would love to nip over to Kapiti Island for a few days and rug up warm in one of the lodges there, listen to the birdsong all day long, and take in the raw awesomeness of the elements.

  • Kyra Xavia

    A trip to the small town of Naseby would be wonderful, to stargaze their magical sky at night, skate on ice during the crisp, clear frosty mornings, and perhaps even enjoy some curling, with a warming dram of whisky afterwards to celebrate.

  • Rebecca

    I would head over to Martinborough or Greytown not to far from Wellington but still feel like you have got away!

  • Christine Cleary

    We are planning to take my daughter to the snow for the first time – very exciting.

  • NC

    I’m thinking of a trip to New Plymouth – I’d love to see the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery – Len Lye Centre, and as it’s indoors it won’t matter if it rains

  • Kelly Harrison

    I’d love to visit Taupo with my partner and daughter

  • SarahBlair

    I would like to take my family up north, 90 mile beach.

  • Cheryl Willetts

    I’d love to go to Cromwell, haven’t see the snow and frost for forever #winter wonderland

  • Angela Pedlar

    I would love to take my partner to somewhere with a bath preferably a spa bath!

  • Sazz

    I would head down to Rotorua! love the hot springs down there in winter <3

  • Jay Louise

    I would pack up my little family – Fiance and 16 month old and head off to Rotorua. Lots of cool things to see and do there on a budget, especially that my little one would enjoy <3

  • Zoe Chance

    Will be heading off to Mt Ruepehu in a few weeks, we belong to a ski club so we only pay $20 per night for an adult (including 3 meals) & $10 per child. We already have our own gear and usually car share with others, ends up being pretty affordable :)

  • Janet Burgess

    I would head off to Napier and catch some Vitamin D. Go out to lunch and catch up with friends. Napier has had amazing weather till now, so it is warm and sunny – nice!

  • Allecia Crawford

    I’m going to ring genesis now and ask about their prices and am hoping to swap after my company uped it’s prices! Then we will look at taking a mini break to Taupo, we may stay just out of Taupo towards Turangi, then we can enjoy the Mountain, Tukanu Hot Pools aswell as what Taupo has to offer. Thanks for these tips

  • Ruzan Forrest

    I’d like to go to Taupo.

  • Fran Lowery

    It would have to be the thermal pools of Rotorua, or alternthe stunning beaches of the winterless north to visit my friend in Whangerei heads!

  • Liz Foster

    We’d just head over the hill to the Waiarapa as we haven’t explored over there, and it’s close to home but far enough away /seperated by the big hill that home would be left behind, I’d love to take the kids to the big park in Masterton and check out nz stonehenge for a laugh in Greytown..Maybe even travel a little further on and check out Mt Bruce wildlife centre.

  • Gail Pemberton

    I would love to take my partner out of town and away from work for a couple of days! A night or two at Papamoa would be great right now, he works too hard!

  • Tui Amohanga

    I would love to take my family on a mini vacation to Hamner Springs for the night, stay in a little cabin at the Top 10 Holiday Park and explore all that Hamner has to offer 😀

  • Georgina Bridgman

    No winter escape but I am taking my boys to Gisborne in January.

  • Suzannah Newton

    We signed up to Genesis too and in our new (to us) home the laundry was super damp so we pumped the heater and dehumidifier all month. It was awesome! Such a good deal! We have lots of beautiful places to visit within a short drive of our home in Tauranga but if we get a weekend spare we especially love to pop over the Kaimais to the family farm in the Waikato. Lovely countryside rambles in gumboots, a visit to the Hamilton Botanical Gardens, the first few calves and lambs appearing, lots of amazing produce at the markets and roadside honesty boxes and amazing home-kill roasts (cooked to perfection by my mother in law!). I love seeing all the spots my partner loved when he was growing up and playing with the family dog (since we can’t have one in our house).

  • Sacha Molloy

    I would love to go on a little trip to Russell and stay at the Pukeko Cottage. And film a dramatic historical reinactment :) And eat delicious pasta served by a dreamy Italian Cook.