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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. Expect long, bright, sunny days and temperatures between 61°F and 75°F. It’s an ideal time to visit the lovely beaches or enjoy the many outdoor activities available, such as hiking and mountain biking.

However, New Zealand’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.

Snow often arrives in the South Island between June and September, as well as in some of the North Island’s more mountainous areas, attracting skiers from far and wide.

The spring and fall months herald milder weather and fewer visitors, but this is still a very pleasant time to visit. Temperatures normally sit in the fifties and sixties.

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Month-by-month guide for traveling 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 snorkeling or outdoor pursuits, but it can be harder to find accommodation. School vacations 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 coast 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.
  • Rugby Sevens (January to February): Thousands flock to watch the country's favorite sporting event in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.
  • Wellington Fringe Festival (February to March): This lively festival brings masses of entertainment in the form of music, comedy and theater to venues across Wellington.
Picton & The Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand in March - May

The arrival of fall 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 colors of the 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.
  • Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow (every other year over Easter weekend): This thrilling air show brings historic aircraft and modern fighter jets to the skies in the South Island.
  • Wellington Fringe Festival (February to March): This lively festival brings masses of entertainment in the form of music, comedy and theater to venues across Wellington.
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 colored 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.

New Zealand Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Auckland 75°F 3" 75°F 4" 73°F 3" 70°F 4" 64°F 5" 61°F 5" 59°F 5" 59°F 6" 63°F 4" 64°F 4" 68°F 4" 72°F 4"
Blenheim 73°F 2" 73°F 1" 70°F 2" 64°F 2" 59°F 3" 55°F 2" 55°F 3" 55°F 3" 59°F 2" 63°F 2" 66°F 2" 70°F 2"
Christchurch 72°F 2" 72°F 2" 68°F 2" 63°F 2" 57°F 3" 52°F 2" 52°F 3" 54°F 2" 57°F 1" 63°F 2" 66°F 2" 70°F 2"
Dunedin 66°F 3" 66°F 3" 63°F 3" 59°F 3" 54°F 3" 48°F 3" 48°F 3" 50°F 3" 55°F 2" 59°F 3" 61°F 3" 64°F 3"
Kaikoura 70°F 2" 70°F 2" 68°F 4" 63°F 3" 59°F 3" 54°F 3" 54°F 4" 54°F 4" 57°F 2" 61°F 3" 64°F 3" 68°F 2"
Marlborough Sounds 70°F 4" 70°F 3" 66°F 4" 63°F 5" 57°F 6" 52°F 6" 52°F 6" 52°F 6" 55°F 5" 59°F 5" 63°F 5" 66°F 4"
Milford Sound 64°F 12" 66°F 8" 61°F 13" 55°F 11" 50°F 11" 43°F 9" 43°F 9" 46°F 9" 50°F 12" 55°F 13" 57°F 11" 61°F 12"
Queenstown 72°F 3" 72°F 2" 66°F 3" 59°F 3" 52°F 3" 46°F 3" 45°F 2" 48°F 2" 55°F 3" 59°F 3" 64°F 2" 68°F 3"
Rotorua 73°F 4" 73°F 4" 70°F 5" 64°F 4" 59°F 5" 55°F 6" 54°F 5" 55°F 6" 59°F 5" 63°F 5" 66°F 5" 70°F 5"
Wellington 68°F 3" 70°F 2" 66°F 4" 63°F 4" 57°F 5" 54°F 5" 52°F 6" 52°F 5" 55°F 4" 59°F 4" 63°F 4" 66°F 4"

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Travel advice

Practical tips for traveling to New Zealand, from social protocols to guidance on money matters, with a link to the latest US State Department travel advice.

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