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Lake Hawea, New Zealand

When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

Lake Hawea, New Zealand

The best time to visit New Zealand is during the summer months of December to March, which bring long, bright and sunny days and temperatures of 16°C to 24°C. They’re ideal for visiting the lovely beaches or enjoying the many outdoor activities available, such as hiking and mountain biking.

However, the country’s rugged beauty and varied landscapes make it a spectacular destination to visit at any time of year. Just be prepared for a fair sprinkling of rain whenever you decide to visit.

June through to September is likely to bring snow to the South Island, as well as some of the North Island’s more mountainous areas, attracting skiers from far and wide. The spring and autumn months herald milder weather and fewer visitors, but are still very pleasant times to visit, with temperatures in the mid-teens.

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New Zealand Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Auckland 24°C 68mm 24°C 103mm 23°C 88mm 21°C 114mm 18°C 122mm 16°C 126mm 15°C 131mm 15°C 142mm 17°C 97mm 18°C 91mm 20°C 92mm 22°C 95mm
Blenheim 23°C 54mm 23°C 35mm 21°C 54mm 18°C 62mm 15°C 66mm 13°C 55mm 13°C 70mm 13°C 70mm 15°C 54mm 17°C 60mm 19°C 50mm 21°C 51mm
Christchurch 22°C 43mm 22°C 39mm 20°C 53mm 17°C 56mm 14°C 64mm 11°C 52mm 11°C 68mm 12°C 57mm 14°C 36mm 17°C 44mm 19°C 45mm 21°C 44mm
Dunedin 19°C 80mm 19°C 66mm 17°C 87mm 15°C 72mm 12°C 84mm 9°C 76mm 9°C 81mm 10°C 70mm 13°C 61mm 15°C 72mm 16°C 71mm 18°C 82mm
Kaikoura 21°C 57mm 21°C 57mm 20°C 100mm 17°C 87mm 15°C 88mm 12°C 69mm 12°C 91mm 12°C 90mm 14°C 63mm 16°C 67mm 18°C 65mm 20°C 59mm
Marlborough Sounds 21°C 104mm 21°C 72mm 19°C 113mm 17°C 128mm 14°C 145mm 11°C 141mm 11°C 162mm 11°C 158mm 13°C 127mm 15°C 139mm 17°C 124mm 19°C 114mm
Milford Sound 18°C 309mm 19°C 213mm 16°C 329mm 13°C 275mm 10°C 284mm 6°C 241mm 6°C 223mm 8°C 237mm 10°C 308mm 13°C 330mm 14°C 272mm 16°C 306mm
Queenstown 22°C 75mm 22°C 51mm 19°C 84mm 15°C 66mm 11°C 78mm 8°C 71mm 7°C 56mm 9°C 59mm 13°C 74mm 15°C 86mm 18°C 62mm 20°C 72mm
Rotorua 23°C 107mm 23°C 113mm 21°C 131mm 18°C 111mm 15°C 119mm 13°C 144mm 12°C 137mm 13°C 160mm 15°C 136mm 17°C 124mm 19°C 116mm 21°C 136mm
Wellington 20°C 81mm 21°C 63mm 19°C 97mm 17°C 105mm 14°C 127mm 12°C 139mm 11°C 146mm 11°C 136mm 13°C 105mm 15°C 104mm 17°C 96mm 19°C 93mm

Month-by-month guide to travelling in New Zealand

Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand in January - February

The warm sunny days of summer make this an ideal time to visit, particularly for snorkelling or outdoor pursuits, but it can be harder to find accommodation. School holidays run into the first two weeks of January, while tourists arrive in large numbers to make the most of the warm climate until the end of February. It's also a great time to spot dolphins and fur seals off the cost of the South Island.

Events & Festivals

  • Marlborough Food and Wine Festival (February): This is New Zealand's longest running wine festival, right in the heart of the world-famous wine producing region. Read more
  • Rugby Sevens in Wellington (January to February): Rugby Sevens lights up Wellington as thousands flock to watch the country's favourite sporting event. Read more
  • Wellington Fringe Festival (February to March): Wellington Fringe Festival brings masses of entertainment in the form of music, comedy and theatre to venues across the city. Read more
Picton & The Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand in March - May

The arrival of autumn brings cooler days and quieter roads. While the weather will be more changeable, there is still a fantastic array of wildlife to be seen and the changing colours of the autumn leaves add a new dynamic. If you are happy with cooler weather then this is a great time to make the most of lower prices and fewer crowds.

Events & Festivals

  • Bluff Oyster Festival (May): This festival celebrates the season's oyster harvest with music, food and wine. Read more
  • Warbirds over Wanaka air show (every other year over Easter weekend): This thrilling air show brings historic aircraft and modern fighter jets to the skies in the South Island. Read more
  • Wellington Fringe Festival (February to March): Wellington Fringe Festival brings masses of entertainment in the form of music, comedy and theatre to venues across the city. Read more
Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast

Visiting New Zealand in June - July

Winter in New Zealand can be both beautiful and challenging. While the North Island sees much rain, snow in the South Island can make mountain passes more difficult and many excursions cease to operate. It is, however, a spectacular draw for skiers and a fantastic time to see the country away from the crowds that the summer brings.

Whale from the air, Kaikoura

Visiting New Zealand in August

As winter continues, areas in the North Island such as Rotorua and the Bay of Islands remain relatively popular as they benefit from milder weather than the south. The South Island holds its own charms, though, as humpback whales pass by Kaikoura on their way north to warmer waters.

Glenorchy, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand in September - October

Temperatures begin to rise and snow on the mountains starts melting, making this a fantastic time for white water rafting as the rivers are full and fast. The weather is changeable, but as most tourists are yet to arrive the roads are quiet and accommodation is easier to secure. September is also a brilliant time to see newborn lambs gamboling in the fields and orcas gracing the coastline with their presence.

The Coromandel Peninsula

Visiting New Zealand in November - December

The warmer weather isn't the only draw of the start to New Zealand's summer; stunning wild gorse and vibrantly coloured lupins spread across the country, making it one of the most impressive times to visit. As peak season begins, prepare for busier attractions and book early to secure accommodation in the more remote areas.

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