Summer holidays mean more Kiwis are travelling New Zealand too, making the most of the sunshine and Christmas break. If you preferred to enjoy sunny days, but with fewer crowds, the best time to go to New Zealand is in autumn.
With a light dusting of snow, Queenstown and the Central Plateau are transformed into winter wonderlands. If you want to ski or snowboard your way down the slopes of the Southern Alps, the best month to visit New Zealand is either July or August.
Spring is also when calves, lambs and daffodils pop up in New Zealand ’s green fields, so it’s an incredibly picturesque time. Cool nights and warm days are common, which makes for pleasant travel weather.
The sunlight here can quickly burn skin from September to April, especially between 10am and 4pm, even on cloudy days. The mountain ranges running along the spine of the South Island divide the country into diverse climate regions.
The West Coast of the South Island is the wettest area of New Zealand, while the Central Stage, on the eastern side of the Southern Alps, is the driest. As well as producing areas of stunning native forest, the high rainfall makes New Zealand an ideal place for farming and horticulture.
Most snow in New Zealand falls in the mountainous areas, like the Central Plateau in the north, and the Southern Alps in the south. While the coastal areas of the North Island may experience some frosts overnight in winter, it very rarely snows there.
As an island nation that runs roughly 900 miles north to south, the weather and climate in New Zealand varies greatly. In general, the warmer months (October to April) are the best time to visit New Zealand, from late spring to early autumn.
Luckily, all major cities and smaller towns have a good collection of museums, galleries, and cafés to retreat to. Places like Queenstown and Ireland are spectacular in the winter, whereas northern, coastal areas may be damp, gray, and less enticing.
Summer is popular with international visitors because it’s warm, but if you want to avoid the crowds while still enjoying this benefit, come a bit earlier or later in the season. Similarly, by February the schools have gone back, and even though March and April are autumn, pleasant weather can continue well into these months.
April tends to feel quite autumnal throughout the country, although you need to be in the South Island to really experience the changing colors of the leaves. With cooler temperatures and often wetter conditions, May is a good month to attend some cultural festivals.
June usually marks the beginning of the ski season, although exact dates depend on conditions. Kiwis who aren’t into skiing tend to holiday in the tropical Pacific Islands during winter, meaning there’s more space for international visitors who choose to come at this time.
But, Maori New Year, Material, is celebrated in July, and cities and towns throughout the country put on their own events. Winter Games, Queenstown/Wan aka: Skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, and curling are the focus of this sporting festival.
Spring has sprung through most of the country by September, and while temperatures can still be nippy, long beach walks and day hikes become appealing again. World of Wearable Art, Wellington: This creative extravaganza showcases local and international fashion design with a whimsical twist.
Ski season usually winds up in October, so visitors set their sights to warmer pursuits and higher latitudes again. Although winter can linger in the south, by November in New Zealand, most of the country is starting to feel quite summery.
Toast Martin borough : Several vineyards in this North Island town participate in this annual wine festival, a good way to kick off summer. The weather is good (although often not as hot or dry as January or February) and there are events happening around the country, especially in the week between Christmas and New Year.
Gisborne is the first place in the world to see the new year, being in the far east of New Zealand ’s North Island, which is a draw card for many travelers. New Zealand has 4 distinct seasons, each with their own unique draw to visiting during that time.
You’ll see all kinds of blossoms in bloom in the spring, festivals, outdoor excursions, and adrenaline-pumping activities in the summer, vibrant foliage in autumn, and powdery snow for an epic ski season come wintertime. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are the mirror opposite of those in the north.
That means while we are shoveling snow and putting up our Christmas trees in the US, New Zealanders are basking in the long days of sunshine, during the warmest months of the year. While we are watching flowers bloom, New Zealanders are enjoying the changing of the leaves.
The hottest months of the year in the Northern Hemisphere are the coldest in the south, and while we are raking leaves and preparing once again for winter, New Zealanders are celebrating spring in full bloom! In short, you’ll have the best chance of comfortable weather and fewer crowds in early spring (September – October) and in autumn (March – May).
Which would you rather see: spring blossoms or colorful fall foliage? Thinking about your answers to these questions is going to help you start to determine when to visit New Zealand.
Tip: Once you’ve figured out the best time to visit, you’ll want to check out our perfect New Zealand itinerary to make sure you get the most out of your trip and see all the highlights of this incredible country! The country of New Zealand is actually made up of an estimated 600 islands in the south-western Pacific Ocean.
The topography across the islands varies from sandy beaches, to mountain ranges, fjord-like sounds to rolling green hills, and glacial lakes to valleys filled with vineyards. It’s important to keep in mind that with such variations in terrain, comes differing temperatures and weather patterns.
However unpredictable the climate in New Zealand may be, the weather is pretty mild and the difference in temperatures from winter to summer is usually only about 10 °C in any single region. This low temperature range, lacking in extremes, means New Zealand does not experience tropical storms often.
Summer is the peak tourism season in New Zealand, with the warmest temperatures, and it is also the most crowded. While the schools are on holiday break, many New Zealanders take time off work and lots of businesses and restaurants can be closed for weeks on end.
Accommodation can also be hard to come by with so many locals on holiday, so it’s a good idea to book in advance if you plan to visit during New Zealand during this time of year. December brings the start of summer, and of course holiday breaks.
This month is the optimal time for penguin viewing in the south. January is the month when most locals go on holiday and many restaurants and cafés will be closed.
February is the warmest month of year in New Zealand and the best time to head to the beach. Locals will have gone back to work by this time, so you won’t run into as many business closures.
Autumn is the best time for hiking as the temperatures start to cool down just a bit, but the sun usually stays out for long crisp days. Locals have gone back to work and the peak tourist season has died down so trails aren’t as crowded.
New Zealand also experiences the seasonal changing of the leaves from green to bright orange, yellow and red hues, which can be a fantastic sight to behold. March brings with it the start of autumn, however, temperatures are usually still fairly warm and skies are sunny.
This is a great “shoulder season” month to visit some big tourist destinations without all the crowds. April in New Zealand is the prime month for viewing the changing of the leaves.
Tourism also dies down significantly after the Easter holiday so accommodation may be easier to come by. May is also Music Month in New Zealand, a time to celebrate the local artists hitting the airwaves.
New Zealand Packing List Enter your email below, and we’ll immediately send our New Zealand packing list to your inbox (totally FREE). During this time roads can be a bit hazardous, particularly in high country.
However, the snow rarely makes its way down to the lowlands and the temperatures in the valleys are actually quite mild. As snow begins to fall in the mountains, ski areas open their doors for tourism.
Material (the New Year of the indigenous Mori people) is also celebrated in June. July and August usually receive the most snowfall and are the best months for skiing.
Spring in New Zealand is in full bloom, and hiking and outdoor adventures become popular once more. As temperatures begin to warm up, the greenery comes alive.
Spring is also New Zealand ’s windiest season, so be sure to pack your windbreaker! With white peaks still visible on the mountain tops, the scenery is picture perfect.
This is the best time for whitewater rafting as the snow is melting in the mountains and the rivers are high and strong. Most ski resorts are still open in September, but spring is coming into bloom in the lowlands.