Best Time to Visit New Zealand
When planning a trip anywhere, we always consider what the weather is going to be like because we need to know what to pack beforehand and what to wear when we are at our destination. In the case of New Zealand, the climate can vary enormously. The total length of the country which is long and narrow is 1600 kilometres/900 miles. This is not much less than the distance from the Canadian/US border to Florida and think how different the climates can be in any season in these two locales.
The first thing to remember is that the seasons in New Zealand are reversed from those in North America. This is a big plus for those of us who live in a cold winter climate.
December to February is summer. March to May is fall. June to August is winter and September to November is spring.
If we travel to the South Pacific, we can escape winter and be assured of warm weather. New Zealand’s climate varies from moderate in the south to subtropical in the far north. The principal influences are the sea and the mountains as well as the longitude. There is little pollution in New Zealand so the Ultra Violet rays can be very strong in the summer, much stronger than, say the Mediterranean or Florida. Be wary of severe sunburn.
Let’s look at some of the more popular destinations and determine the general weather patterns.
NOTE – All quoted temperatures are daytime average highs unless otherwise stated and can vary.
Summer is warm with lots of sunshine. Extreme heat is rare and evenings are pleasant. Temperatures average 23 Celsius/73 Fahrenheit. 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 15 Celsius/59 Fahrenheit with nighttime lows only around 8 Celsius/39 Fahrenheit. Fall is somewhat rainy but warm or at least, mild. Temperatures average around 20 Celsius/68 Fahrenheit. Spring is pleasantly warm and sunny with temperatures reaching 19 Celsius/66 Fahrenheit.
Wellington is situated at the southern tip of the North Island and the weather is a somewhat inconsistent within the same season. However, the weather is never extreme as Wellington has a mild, temperate marine climate. One factor to consider if you wear a hat – hold on tight to it as Wellington owns the title of the “World’s Windiest City”. Summer offers very pleasant weather with temperatures around 21 Celsius/70 Fahrenheit. Winter is a very short season with some frost at night in the hillier areas with average temperatures of 12 Celsius/54 Fahrenheit. The winds make it feel a little colder. Fall and spring are mild with average temperatures around 17 Celsius/65 Fahrenheit.
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 29 Celsius/84 Fahrenheit, 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 16 Celsius/47 to 61 Fahrenheit. 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 25 Celsius/77 Fahrenheit. 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 26 Celsius/79 Fahrenheit. The winter is the rainy season with temperatures ranging from a night low of 7 Celsius/45 Fahrenheit to a daytime high of 16 Celsius/61 Fahrenheit. The fall has a distinct flavour to it with lots of colour. Temperatures average 21 Celsius/70 Fahrenheit. Spring is also a colourful time when the flowers begin to bloom with average temperatures of 19 Celsius/66 Fahrenheit.
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 20 Celsius/68 Fahrenheit to 30 Celsius/86 Fahrenheit. Winter is relatively mild but with cold nights. Temperatures average 13 Celsius/55 Fahrenheit. Spring and fall are simply pleasant seasons with temperatures averaging 18 Celsius/65 Fahrenheit.
Christchurch has a dry temperate climate where a snowfall in the winter might happen once a year. July is the wettest month and September the driest. Generally, Christchurch is a comfortable place to be all year-round. In summer, the temperature reaches around 22 Celsius/72 Fahrenheit which is very mild. The winter can be cold at night with some frost and a possible low of 0 Celsius/32 Fahrenheit. The days are sunny with average temperatures of 12 Celsius/54 Fahrenheit. The fall has brilliant autumnal colours with pleasant average temperatures of 19 Celsius/66 Fahrenheit. Spring is also mild with average temperatures of 17 Celsius/63 Fahrenheit.
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 23 Celsius/68 to 73 Fahrenheit. At times, it can be hotter. Nearby Queenstown are 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 15 Celsius/59 Fahrenheit with much cooler temperatures at night. The fall brings a spectacular array of colours with warm days and cool nights with temperatures around 17 Celsius/65 Fahrenheit. Spring temperatures vary with a range of 10 to 20 Celsius/50 to 68 Fahrenheit.
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 months when it is crisp and clear. Also, the least rain falls during this season. Temperatures range all year round from 8 to 22 Celsius/47 to 72 Fahrenheit. 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 the driest. Summers are cool but the odd day can have hot weather.
Temperatures on average are around 16 Celsius/61 Fahrenheit. Winter is frosty but sunny with light snowfalls being common. Average temperatures are 9 Celsius/48 Fahrenheit. Spring and fall are relatively mild with temperatures around 11 Celsius/52 Fahrenheit.
If the weather is the deciding factor and you are wondering when is the best time to visit New Zealand, it is possible you may have to work that out from the places you want to visit. If visiting both the North and South Islands, you may need to work out a check-list of the clothes required.
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