When you’re planning what time of year to visit New Zealand, you probably have to consider when you can get leave from work and school holidays, etc. As well as things at home, you might also want to think about what it will be like in New Zealand at certain times of year.
Want to include an adventure activity like a guided walk or kayak trip in your New Zealand holiday? You should look at visiting between late Spring and early Autumn. These activities may not operate during the cooler months. And, by way of contrast, you'll want to plan to visit in July, August or September, if you want to sample some Southern Hemisphere snow skiing.
Another factor to think about when choosing your travel date is whether you want to travel at the peak tourist times or at a time of year when attractions and accommodation are quieter. You'll have a better chance of getting your first choice for accommodation and rental car in autumn and winter months but the weather might make some activities impossible.
December, January and February are the busiest time of year for tourists visiting New Zealand. To ensure you get your first choice of accommodation and rental car you will need book your holiday quite far in advance. This is also when New Zealander’s take their summer holidays, so flights and the Interislander ferry can also get full very early. We recommend you book your holiday by September to avoid missing out on your first or second choice. Of course we can always find a solution and availability but booking as early as possible gives the best choice at the best value.
Certain outdoor activities and cruises are weather dependant, so they may not operate during the cooler months. If you know you want to walk the Milford or Routeburn Track or sea kayak in Abel Tasman National Park, make sure you plan to visit during November to April. For overnight cruises in Milford and Doubtful Sound, you’ll want to visit from October to May. Our travel consultants will be able to advise you on the best time of year to travel for the activities you want to do in New Zealand and no matter what time of year you visit there is always plenty to experience.
New Zealand enjoys a temperate climate. This means we don’t usually experience the weather extremes found in some continental countries. Nor do we have a rainy season like they do in the tropics – our rainfall days are generally consistent throughout the year.
There are distinct climatic regions within New Zealand. As you travel the length of the country you could experience sub-tropical weather in the Bay of Islands and alpine conditions in the South Island within a two week period. The country is made up of small islands in a big ocean so the weather can change quickly. Some days you will experience ‘four seasons in one day’. Make sure you pack some warm clothing and a rain jacket whatever time of year you visit!
These temperature averages, will give you a guide as to what to expect the weather to be like during different seasons:
Spring – September, October, November – you’ll see all the trees and flowers bursting into life. By November the stunning floral display of lupins in the South Island's Mackenzie Country and Lake Tekapo will have begun while Northlanders will be enjoying their beautiful beaches. Average temperature highs for this time of year are 18 °C in the north and 16 °C in the south, with lows between 7 and 9 °C.
Summer – December, January, February – the warmest months coincide with when New Zealanders also take their summer holidays. So this is a great time to meet the locals. Daylight hours are longer during summer, especially in the south -- great for packing more adventure into short itineraries. Average temperature highs for this time of year are 25 °C in the north and 22 °C in the south, with lows between 12 and 13 °C.
Autumn – March, April, May – the weather is slightly cooler, but settled, meaning you can have crisp mornings with beautiful blue sky days. The cooler weather brings on a brilliant display of autumn leaf colour, especially in the South Island. Average temperature highs for this time of year are 20 °C in the north and 17 °C in the south, with lows between 7 and 11 °C.
Winter – June, July, August – in parts of the South Island and around Tongariro National Park you’ll see spectacular snow-capped peaks. The roads are snow-free and safe to drive on, with the exceptions of certain alpine passes after the occasional heavy snowfall. Average temperature highs for this time of year are 15 °C in the north and 10 °C in the south, with lows between 2 and 6 °C.