8 Places to Escape the Heat of Summer in the Southern Hemisphere

Mountain resort as seen from a distance
Photo: Sid Mosdell [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

The sunshine and warm temperatures of summer make being outdoors pleasant for most people ... but not for everyone. Mosquitoes, rainstorms, sunburn and sweat-inducing humidity can also be a part of the summertime experience. If you see the negatives of the warmest season, you have an option: Head south — way south. The Southern Hemisphere's winter takes place at the same time steamy summer weather is dominating areas north of the equator. This means that you can use this time to ski, ice skate, play in snow or simply enjoy spending time in pleasantly cool weather. Here are eight Southern Hemisphere destinations for a "winter vacation" in the summertime.

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Falls Creek, Australia

Photo: Marek Lambert/Shutterstock

Australia is certainly not known for its ski scene, but Falls Creek, an Australian Alps resort in the northeastern corner of Victoria, is in full swing in June, July and August. Of the 92 runs here, one-quarter are marked for advanced skiers. The snow line starts about 3,000 feet above sea level; the top of the highest run in the area stands at about 6,000 feet.

The ski village at Falls Creek (5,200 feet elevation) is 220 miles from Melbourne, Australia's second most populous city. Although conditions here are not as attractive as, say, the steep slopes of the New Zealand Alps or the deep powder of the Chilean Andes, Falls Creek is extremely easy to access, and adding a ski session to a July vacation in scenic and attraction-filled Victoria is possible. Visitors will find the wintertime weather pleasantly cool, but hardly ever freezing, in the state's lower elevations.

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Queenstown, New Zealand

Photo: Jimmyboy/Shutterstock

A small city on a scenic mountain lake in New Zealand's Otago region, Queenstown is known for its cosmopolitan vibe. During the summer, adventure hounds come here to try extreme sports of all varieties. The city advertises more than 200 "adventure tourism activities." In the winter, it’s all about skiing. Two major collections of runs, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables, are both a short distance from the city. The center of South Island's ski scene, Cardrona, is only about an hour's drive away.

Queenstown has a reputation as a party town. Despite nighttime temps that drop into the 30s in winter, you will find plenty of action in the bars and clubs in the downtown area. Winterfest takes place each June. In addition to fireworks, music and parades, there are sporting events and interactive classes. However, the highlight for many visitors will be finding themselves in a quiet spot to enjoy the panoramas of Lake Wakatipu, the mountain lake on which Queenstown sits.

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San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

Boscos/Wikimedia Commons.

This town in the Patagonian region of Argentina sits near some of the country's best ski slopes. However, this is one place where you can enjoy yourself without even taking a chairlift. Bariloche has a unique atmosphere, and many people compare it to the most charming towns in the central European Alps, which are literally half a world away. This is actually a very apt comparison: Bariloche even has chocolate shops, breweries and Saint Bernards. The Cerro Catedral ski area, one of the continent's biggest with more than 60 miles of runs, sits just outside the town.

When the town was first settled more than a century ago, most of the residents were immigrants from German-speaking countries like Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The architecture resembles their homeland, including the Cathedral of San Carlos de Bariloche, a neo-Gothic church surrounded by pine trees that creates a holiday-like landscape when snow covers the ground in June and July.

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Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Sid Mosdell/Flickr.

Tongariro was one of the world's first national parks. Located in the interior of the North Island of New Zealand, it is very remote. Three active volcanoes are in the park: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. The unique landscapes were used in several scenes of the "Lord of the Rings" movies, and the park is a popular stop for adventure-seeking Tolkien fans.

The Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas, on the slopes of the Ruapehu volcano, offer a high ratio of intermediate and advanced runs, with ideal conditions from June through September. Tubing is also available, as are other adventure activities. The scenery inside the park is attractive year-round, with snowcapped mountains, pine forests, rivers and waterfalls.

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Lesotho

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Lesotho is a mountain kingdom totally surrounded by South Africa. It is sometimes called the Kingdom of the Sky because the entire country has an altitude of more than 4,593 feet. In fact, Lesotho has the highest low point of any nation in the world. Because of this altitude, temperatures drop below freezing regularly during the winter, and snow is commonplace. From June through September, you can find plenty of action on one of the continent's only ski resorts.

Afriski features an extensive snow-making system that accentuates what falls naturally during the Lesotho winter. With four lifts, this is certainly not the Swiss Alps or the Colorado Rockies, but the unique appeal of skiing in Africa draws both South African and overseas visitors. Lesotho also boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, with the wintertime dry season offering an almost 100% chance of sunny weather. And though buildings outside the main tourist areas are not heated, the landscapes are quite beautiful. Lesotho's untouched scenery draws adventurous hikers and culture-minded explorers alike.

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Melbourne, Australia

Photo: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia commons

Melbourne is Australia's second largest city. Its nightlife, shopping and restaurant scenes are truly world class, with many spots offering al fresco dining and drinking during the warmer months of the year. In the winter, the mercury usually sits in the 50s during the day and drop into the 40s at night. Freezing temps occur sometimes.

Despite the fact that its outdoors scene disappears in summer, Melbourne is one of those cities that really comes to life in the winter. The nightlife does not slow at all; it merely moves indoors. Events like the Melbourne International Film Festival highlight the city's penchant for culture and art. Melbourne is also the birthplace of Australian rules football. More than half the teams in the professional league (the AFL) are based in and around Melbourne, so multiple matches are held every weekend during the winter. Some of these games are quite spectacular, drawing as many as 100,000 spectators.

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Santiago, Chile

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With highs in the mid-50s to mid-60s and nightly lows dipping into the 40s, winter is pleasant and not overly chilly in the Chilean capital of Santiago. Because of the surrounding mountains, however, this metropolis of more than 5 million is a great base for warm weather refugees from the north who want to spend their summer vacation near both world-class ski slopes and one of South America's most cosmopolitan cities.

The ski resort at La Parva is only 30 miles from the center of Santiago. There are other resorts in the area, which is known as Tres Valles (three valleys). Together, these places provide hundreds of runs within an hour of the city. More challenging skiing can be found about two hours from Santiago. The resort at Portillo offers powder skiing and challenging runs that have earned it a reputation among pros and fanatics all over the world.

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Curitiba, Brazil

Samir Nosteb/Wikimedia Commons.

During this summer's FIFA World Cup in Brazil, many of the matches were played in obviously hot and humid conditions. If you watched closely, you saw that in one of the host cities, players were not drenched with sweat after the first two minutes of the match. This city was Curitiba. Because of its altitude, more than 2,000 feet above sea level, Curitiba has a distinctly cool but rarely freezing winter season. In June and July, highs generally stretch into the low 60s, with lows in the 40s.

This light-jacket weather won't please winter sports enthusiasts, but it is ideal for exploring a place many people consider Brazil's cleanest, safest and most user-friendly city. This metropolis of 2 million boasts botanic gardens, culture-themed parks dedicated to the immigrants who make up the local population and a bus network that is the envy of other mid-sized cities.