New Zealand in December: A Summer Holiday


As summer in New Zealand begins in December, the country is packed with tourists. The weather in New Zealand during this time ranges from pleasant to warm, ideal for exploring this stunning country. Laze in the enticing white-sand beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula and enjoy water sports and swimming. Explore the art and culture in Auckland and Wellington. Discover why Queenstown is known as the world’s adventure capital. Traveling to New Zealand in December guarantees a spectacular and unforgettable adventure.

New Zealand Weather in December

Spend summer in New Zealand in Wellington.
Visit the famous landmarks of Wellington during amazing weather in December.

New Zealand’s weather in December is generally pleasant all around. The temperatures in the North Island are a few degrees warmer than most parts of the South Island. Overall, the South Island receives more rainfall than its northern counterpart during this time. Snowfall in December is rare, except if you are trekking in the upper reaches of the mountains. In the capital Wellington, the average high temperature in December is 17°C, while the average low is 14°C. Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, sees an average high and low of 20°C and 16°C, respectively. In Queenstown, the average temperatures range from a high of 16°C to a low of 6°C.

For a seasonal overview, check out our guide on the best time to visit New Zealand.

Weather in New Zealand in December - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)
Avg Nightly (°C)15.916.515.31412.310.89.710.110.311.312.714.8
Avg Daily (°F)68.3668.3667.2863.6859.956.4854.6855.5856.6659.1862.0665.84
Avg Nightly (°F)60.6261.759.5457.254.1451.4449.4650.1850.5452.3454.8658.64
Avg Rainfall (mm)2729.53243.5485952514337.54047

Why Visit New Zealand in December

New Zealand sees summer in December so Christmas is a warm affair.
Experience warm Christmas on the beach in New Zealand.
The weather in New Zealand is perfect for kayaking in December.
The warm temperatures mean water sports like kayaking are a great option.

December kicks off the peak tourist season in New Zealand, bringing visitors to the country from all around the world. Here are some reasons why you too should plan a trip to New Zealand in December:

  • Warm Christmas: Christmas in New Zealand is less about snow and sleigh bells and more about beaches and backyard barbecues. Experience a warm Christmas with elements of the native Maori culture. The flower of the Pohutukawa tree, held sacred by the Maori people, is an integral part of New Zealand Christmas decorations. The flowers symbolize respect for diversity in New Zealand.
  • Events and festivals: December is full of exciting and entertaining festivals and events in New Zealand. Check out the Christmas production, the Santa Claus Show, by the Tim Bray Theater Company, is a family favorite and runs for several days at The PumpHouse Theater, Killarney Park, Takapuna in Auckland. Have fun at the Extravaganza Fair, the country’s largest and most fabulous traveling festival, a community-centered event with music, shows, stalls, rides, food, and more. Usher in the new year with Rhythm and Vines, New Zealand’s top-rated music and camping festival on the East Coast at the beautiful Waiohika Estate.
  • Great outdoors: The days are long and beautiful in New Zealand in December, just the weather for outdoor activities. Kaitaia in the North Island offers everything from horse riding, fishing and kayaking to diving, hiking and quad biking. You can also head to Shotover River for a thrilling rafting adventure.
  • Beaches beckon: Nothing beats spending a lovely summer day on one of New Zealand’s dreamy beaches. Koekohe Beach in Otago Coast, Maitai Bay in Northland, and Awaroa Beach in Abel Tasman National Park are some of the top picks. Check out more beach tours in New Zealand.

Where to go and what to do

See dolphins along the bay on your New Zealand trip.
Spot dolphins on your vacation to New Zealand.

New Zealand in December is all about exploring the great outdoors of this magical land. The splendid Bay of Islands is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand in December. Home to more than 140 islands, the bay is a gorgeous destination for sailing, yachting and kayaking. You can also spot dolphins, whales, and marlin in the waters along the bay.

Another extraordinary place to add to your New Zealand itinerary in December is a trip to Tongariro National Park, just a few kilometers away from Lake Taupo, the country’s largest lake. This Unesco World Heritage Site has remarkable volcanic features, and the park’s mountains have cultural and religious significance for the Maoris.

Visit Rotorua on the Pacific Ring of Fire for an otherworldly experience. The town is known for its steaming mud pools, whistling geysers, striking volcanic craters and boiling thermal springs.

New Zealand in December is a trekkers’ and hikers’ paradise. One of the great walking paths is the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a 51-kilometer trail on the South Island. Along the way, you can spot fur seals and penguins, and enjoy magnificent views from the coastal cliffs.

Book a trip to Wellington which is brimming with fascinating things to see and do in December. Enjoy a ride on the Wellington Cable Car and get panoramic views of the city. Walk amongst rare birds like kakariki and takahe, spot prehistoric reptiles like the tuatara, and see 150 kiwis freely roaming at Zealandia Te Mara a Tane, a lush ecosystem in the heart of the city. And do not forget to check out New Zealand’s unique natural environment and Maori art and heritage at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Explore the breathtaking cultural and natural landscapes of New Zealand just as the lovely summer approaches. Stunning outdoors, unique wildlife, urban attractions, adventure and activities, New Zealand has it all. Reach out to our local travel experts to plan a customized trip to New Zealand in December.

Other articles:
New Zealand in November
New Zealand in January

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  • Geoff Venning
    Geoff Venning
    Travel Expert in New Zealand
  • David Tupper
    David Tupper
    Travel Expert in Australia & New Zealand
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