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Pristine beaches, soaring mountain peaks, sprawling national parks, bubbling volcanoes and lush forests—New Zealand’s natural beauty spans from the panoramic to the pristine, making it one of the world’s most incredible travel destinations.
Beyond the great outdoors, the country has a thriving art and culture scene in cities like Auckland and Wellington and a living Maori heritage that impacts every aspect of Kiwi life.
Relax at the golden beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, enjoy bird-watching on the blissful Stewart Island, cross mountains and rain forests during an epic walk on the Milford Tracks, marvel at the mysterious limestone caves of Waitomo, visit the famous wineries of Marlborough and Nelson, and go sea kayaking at the Abel Tasman National Park.
The weather in New Zealand can change quickly as it’s a relatively narrow island nation. Besides summer, spring and autumn are the best times to visit New Zealand. The weather in the chart is based on North Island.
- High Tourist Season: December to February
- Low Season: June to August
- Best Seasons: March to May, September to November
- All Seasons: December to February, March to May, June to August, September to November
- New Zealand does not experience extreme temperatures found in other continental climates.
- The hottest months are January and February, while July is the coldest. The average temperature in New Zealand decreases as you go south.
- Be ready for a sudden downpour no matter when you visit. Snow is expected in the South Island from June to September. The North Island’s mountainous areas also see snowfall and are an attractive skiing destination.
December to February – Summer / High Season
December, January and February are the official summer months and the best time of the year to visit New Zealand weather-wise. Summer is warm but not humid. There is plenty of sunshine, and the weather is perfect for exploring the mountains, beaches and lakes. Since December is the beginning of summer, some areas, especially in the North Island, still have spring-like weather.
Summer is the high tourist season in New Zealand, and most locals take their annual break over Christmas and flock to beaches or lakes. As a result, expect top-rated destinations to be crowded. Accommodation rates are generally higher.
- Average Temperature: 19.9°C (67.8°F)/ 15.7°C (60.3°F)
- Rainfall: 34.5 mm
- Highlights: You can hire a kayak and explore the little bays and coves of the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park or go for a walk on the 51-kilometer Coast Track. It's a great idea to trek in the alpine wilderness of Arthur’s Pass National Park and discover its extraordinary terrain. You can also take a cruise around the Bay of Islands and discover its 140-plus dreamy islands. Head to Queenstown and try bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating and paragliding.
March to May – Autumn / Best Season
These months are about long, sunny days, but the weather is cooler than summer. If you want to avoid the tourist rush, autumn is the best time to go to New Zealand. Along with summer, this is the best time to visit South Island. But the peak summer is over before March.
From April, the South Island starts to get especially colder. You’ll need to pack warm clothes in May, and some mountainous parts can see rain or snow. Autumn is considered shoulder season by tour operators. Prices start to drop and the crowds are thinner than during the peak summer season.
- Average Temperature: 17.6°C (61.2°F)/13.9°C (56.9°F)
- Rainfall: 41mm
- Highlights: Enjoy rare delicacies like creamy seagull eggs at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival. Travel to Wellington’s coast and spot orcas and dolphins. Take a train trip on the Taieri Gorge Railway, which starts from Dunedin and covers beautiful mountain scenery.
June to August – Winter / Low Season
June, July and August are winter months in New Zealand, and you can expect rain and snow in some parts. These may not be the best months to visit New Zealand, but you can pack your days with thrilling activities minus the crowds and get great discounts on hotels and travel.
The northern parts typically have subtropical weather, while temperatures in the alpine areas of the South Island can plunge to lows of -10°C in winter. But since most of the country is not far from the coast, also expect milder temperatures and sunshine in many areas. Towards the end of August, signs of spring are in the air.
June has the shortest days, while July is the coldest month of the year. July also sees an increase in domestic travel since school children have vacations.
- Average Temperature: 13.1°C (55.6°F)/ 10.2°C (50.3°F)
- Rainfall: 54mm
- Highlights: Head for a ski vacation in Queenstown or Wanaka. Celebrate Matariki, the Maori new year, in late June or early July, marking the beginning of the winter solstice. Book a trip to Kaikoura during the peak of their winter migration and watch humpback whales. Sooth your body and mind with a dip in geothermal springs at Rotorua or Hanmer Springs.
September to November – Spring / Best Season
Temperatures in spring, September to November, are slightly higher in the North Island than in the south. After summer, you’ll find the best weather in New Zealand during spring. Spring is also perhaps the best time to visit Wellington. The weather gets more comfortable in October, and November is a dreamy month when you can start enjoying beaches and road trips.
Though it won’t be as quiet as the winter, you’ll have much of the country to yourself because the tourist rush doesn’t start until summer. September is a transition between winter and spring, and the ski resorts are open till the middle of the month.
- Average Temperature: 15.2°C (59.3°F)/ 11.4°C (52.6°F)
- Rainfall: 40 mm
- Highlights: See delightful baby fur seals and penguins on the Fiordland Coast. Lake Tekapo, with its lupin flower and the backdrop of the Southern Alps, is a photographer’s dream, and the night sky here is ideal for stargazing. Enjoy the Spring Festival at Wellington’s Botanic Gardens when tulips and roses bloom, and go on a craft beer tour of the city.