New Zealand in May: Weather and Travel Tips


Being the last month of autumn, the weather in New Zealand in May can change from warm to wintry, depending on the places you visit. Since it is the shoulder season, some of the country's most popular destinations are somewhat busy around this time. However, the more outdoorsy attractions like the Great Barrier Island see fewer visitors compared to summer. May is also a great time for sightseeing, as it is the last month to enjoy the magical autumn landscapes of various shades of yellow and oranges. Continue reading to find out what your trip to New Zealand can look like this month.

New Zealand Weather in May

See colorful houses in Wellington when traveling in New Zealand.
If you want to stay where the temperatures are moderate in May, head to Wellington.

The weather in New Zealand in May is still reasonably warm, averaging between 7°C and 18°C. However, the temperature will vary significantly between the north and south. The South Island is relatively colder compared to the north. For instance, Queenstown in the south registers an average temperature of 1°C to 8°C. On the other hand, Wellington in the north has an average temperature of 11°C to 14°C. You can expect moderate daytime temperatures in New Zealand in May. However, the nights are colder, and rainfall is higher compared to the previous months.

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

Weather in New Zealand in May - 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 May

See the leaves turn brown in New Zealand in May.
Watch New Zealand covered in amazing autumn colors in May.
Go road tripping in New Zealand near Lake Wanaka.
The fine weather means road trips are one of the best things to do in New Zealand this month.

There are many great reasons to tour New Zealand in May, and here are some of them:

  • Spectacular views: New Zealand's autumn landscapes are an incredible sight. As you go out and about, you will witness the leaves in golden and red hues, which makes road-tripping such a scenic adventure. One of the best things about the autumn season in New Zealand is that the skies are clear. When the autumn nights start rolling, you will see the cloudless midnight skies speckled with stars.
  • Fewer crowds: Unlike summer, where tourist attractions in New Zealand are full of local and international tourists, autumn is much quieter. Therefore, you can explore the country’s popular sights with fewer distractions.
  • Cheaper rates: Everything is pricier during the peak tourist season in New Zealand. Since May is outside the tourist season, you can expect things to be cheaper in New Zealand. Flights are more affordable, and you can get discounted rates on accommodations as well.
  • Fantastic weather: Even though May is the end of the autumn season, the weather during this month is still great to enjoy sightseeing tours in New Zealand. You will still enjoy sunny days but expect the mornings and evenings to be colder.

Where to Go and What to Do

Head to Hawke's Bay in New Zealand in May.
Vacationing in New Zealand in autumn means you will get to enjoy the great weather with fewer crowds around.

Famous for its wineries, the Hawke's Bay region is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand in May. Autumn is the wine-making season, so it is a perfect time to visit wineries and learn more about the wine-making process.

Canterbury's Mackenzie district is a beautiful place to visit all year round, particularly in the autumn season when heaps of birds feast on autumn seeds. Home to an impressive selection of attractions, Mackenzie is a great place to visit if you have several days to spend in New Zealand. It offers numerous things to do, from cycling and skiing to helicopter riding.

Visit Eastwoodhill in Gisborne, New Zealand's national arboretum. It occupies more than 130 hectares of land and has the largest selection of Northern Hemisphere trees, making it a wonderful place to marvel at the breathtaking golden leaves.

Head to Mount Cook in autumn in New Zealand.
Get gorgeous views of nature from Mount Cook in New Zealand.

Hiking on the Hooker Valley track in Canterbury's Mount Cook National Park is one of the best things to do in May, as it gets even more colorful during autumn. The walk appeals to hikers of all ages and abilities since the terrain is mostly flat while the path is well-groomed.

In the southernmost point of New Zealand, you will find the Rakiura Track, where you can enjoy a leisurely hike in a peaceful setting. It is a 20-mile track that could take up to three days to conquer. The area is home to some beautiful beaches, and you will come across a Kiwi on your hike, New Zealand's national symbol.

May is the last month of autumn in New Zealand, and the weather is still comfortable to tackle some outdoor activities. As it is the shoulder season, there are no longer that many tourists crowding the country's top attractions, allowing you to enjoy your holiday in a tranquil setting. Better yet, you will find the travel and accommodation rates in the country far cheaper than in the peak summer season.

So, if you're convinced about traveling to New Zealand, start planning your trip now. The best way to get started is to book one of our customized trips to New Zealand.

Other articles:
New Zealand in April
New Zealand in June

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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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