Best Time to Visit New Zealand
New Zealand's climate can vary enormously, from moderate in the south to subtropical in the far north. The total length of the country is a narrow 1600 kilometres/900 miles. This is not much less than the distance from the Canadian/US border to Florida, so keep in mind how different the climates of these locales can be in any given season.
Also remember, the seasons in New Zealand are reversed from those in North America.
December to February is summer. March to May is fall. June to August is winter and September to November is spring.
New Zealand is a year-round destination, but available activities and weather will vary according to your destination and the time of year.
Summer is warm with lots of sunshine. Extreme heat is rare and evenings are pleasant. Temperatures average 23C/73F. Winter stays mild and sunny with some rain. The last time it snowed in Auckland was 77 years ago! This is not surprising as the average temperature reaches 15C/59F with nighttime lows only around 8C/39F. Fall is somewhat rainy but warm or at least, mild. Temperatures average around 20C/68F. Spring is pleasantly warm and sunny with temperatures reaching 19C/66F.
Wellington is situated at the southern tip of the North Island and the weather is somewhat inconsistent within the same season. However, the weather is never extreme as Wellington has a mild, temperate marine climate. Hold on tight to your hat as Wellington owns the title of the “World’s Windiest City." Summer offers very pleasant weather with temperatures around 21C/70F. Winter is a very short season with some frost at night in the hillier areas with average temperatures of 12C/54F. The winds make it feel a little colder. Fall and spring are mild with average temperatures around 17C/65F.
Rotorua is situated inland and is sheltered by high hills on two sides which protect it from being windy. Summer is usually hot and dry with the odd day being humid. Temperatures can reach 29C/84F, so a very pleasant season. Winter is a different story. It is generally sunny but with cold winds blowing from the south and it can snow. Temperatures range from 9 to 16C/47 to 61F. Both spring and fall are nice times to be in Rotorua with mild, warm days but cool when the sun goes down. Temperatures can reach 25C/77F. Rain can fall at any time of the year.
Bay of Islands
This beautiful region in the far north of New Zealand has a subtropical climate, so no cold weather. The summer is pleasantly hot with lots of sunshine with often, cooling breezes in the evenings. Average temperatures are around 26C/79F. The winter is the rainy season with temperatures ranging from a night low of 7C/45F to a daytime high of 16C/61F. The fall has a distinct flavour to it with lots of colour. Temperatures average 21C/70F. Spring is also a colourful time when the flowers begin to bloom with average temperatures of 19C/66F.
Hawkes Bay, including Napier, can have sudden temperature changes in all seasons. It has sporadic rainfall in the summer and spring. However, having said that, Hawkes Bay is renowned for its Mediterranean climate with long hot summers and mild winters plus lots of sunshine. This is why it is a region well known for producing excellent wines. Summer temperatures range from 20C/68F to 30C/86F. Winter is relatively mild but with cold nights. Temperatures average 13C/55F. Spring and fall are simply pleasant seasons with temperatures averaging 18C/65F.
Christchurch has a dry temperate climate where snowfall in the winter might happen once a year. July is the wettest month and September is the driest. Generally, Christchurch is a comfortable place to be all year round. In summer, the temperature reaches around 22C/72F which is very mild. The winter can be cold at night with some frost and a possible low of 0C/32F. The days are sunny with average temperatures of 12C/54F. The fall has brilliant autumnal colours with pleasant average temperatures of 19C/66F. Spring is also mild with average temperatures of 17C/63F.
Queenstown has four distinct seasons with December being the wettest month and September being the driest. Expect snow in the winter as Queenstown is surrounded by mountains. Summer is sunny and mild with a range of temperatures from 20 to 23C/68 to 73F. At times, it can be hotter. Nearby Queenstown is ski slopes and there will be snow at these locations. In town, the weather is crisp with clear skies most of the time. The average temperature in winter is around 15C/59F with much cooler temperatures at night. The fall brings a spectacular array of colours with warm days and cool nights with temperatures around 17C/65F. Spring temperatures vary with a range of 10 to 20C/50 to 68F.
New Zealand’s Fjordland includes Milford Sound and Te Anau. The weather here is very unpredictable. It can be cold, wind and rainy at any time of the year. This is the reason it is so lush and green. It has been called one of the wettest places on earth. However, there is sunshine at times and the climate is definitely on the mild side at certain times of the year. Funnily enough, some of the finest days of the year are during the winter when it is crisp and clear. Also, the least rain falls during this season. Temperatures range all year round from 8 to 22C/47 to 72F. Whatever time you decide to visit, don’t forget your rainproof clothes.
The climate in Dunedin is influenced by its location by the ocean. This gives it mild summers and cool winters. It doesn’t rain too much. This is mainly because the surrounding hills protect Dunedin from more precipitation. December is the wettest month and September is the driest. Summers are cool but the odd day can have hot weather. Temperatures on average are around 16C/61F. Winter is frosty but sunny with light snowfalls being common. Average temperatures are 9C/48F. Spring and fall are relatively mild with temperatures around 11C/52F.
If the weather is the deciding factor and you are wondering when is the best time to visit New Zealand, it helps tremendously to know which places you want to visit. If visiting both the North and South Islands, be ready to dress in layers.
New Zealand Travel Information
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Learn about the history and culture of New Zealand, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about New Zealand's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, and 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering New Zealand for yourself. Start exploring...book one of our New Zealand tours today!
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