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Plan Your Trip

Seasons in New Zealand: Weather and Rainfall Travel Facts for Overseas Visitors

For overseas visitors, as New Zealand is a premier outdoor destination, weather can play an important role when attractions are open. The time of the year could mean some attractions are closed and the weather impacts on your holiday plans. Let’s get the facts at your fingertips to make holiday planning easier.

  • New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere and our seasons are opposite to Europe, North America, Ireland (Eire) and the United Kingdom
  • While we are basking in sunshine the northern hemisphere is chilly and the depths of winter
  • New Zealand is geographically a series of relatively thin long narrow islands in the Pacific Ocean resulting in a climate heavily influenced by the surrounding ocean. This can cause temperature fluctuations even in a single day

 

NEW ZEALAND CLIMATE, WEATHER AND SEASONS ADDS A RICHNESS TO YOUR HOLIDAY

Four seasons, four opportunities to experience what New Zealand has to offer visitors. The climate, the daily weather forecast and the distinct seasons add to the rich palate of attractions from spring festivals to winter ski resort activities.



 

SPRING

View of buildings on a historic south street, Nelson, New Zealand
View of buildings on a historic south street, Nelson

SPRING in New Zealand is a wildlife bonanza with baby Albatross chicks, penguins foraging for food for their young and lambs prancing over rolling farmland is irresistible.

Wildlife enthusiasts and birding fans look forward to nesting chicks, baby seal pups and toddling penguins between early September to late December.

Enjoy spring in public gardens, garden festivals in New Plymouth and Taranaki. Go on a daffodil hunt for yellow nodding blooms.

 

Temperature range from +4.5 to +18 degrees Celsius

SUMMER

SUMMER in New Zealand is when you strap yourself for Adventure attractions, walks and hikes the ideal months are November through to mid March heralding summer months. In part this is a safety issue as high winds, snow and other weather conditions can make trails, tracks and outdoor tour operations difficult and lead to temporary closure.

Summer is outdoors. Walking outdoors in NZ’s national parks and gardens is best done in summer (December – mid March).

Summer is foodie heaven, summer are wine trails. Food and beverage operators can be closed or have limited service during the low season (May – October). Many weekend farmers markets are open from Labour Day (late October) to early March.

Summer Cycling trails are a favourite visitor activity with cycle shuttles offering bike hire, drop off and pick up services. Most cycle trails have dedicated local tour operators who are passionate about getting out on two wheels and enjoying New Zealand outdoors.

 

Temperatures range from +21 to +32 degrees Celsius

Summer Landscape with Blue Sky on the Pacific Sea Coast, Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand
Summer Landscape with Blue Sky on the Pacific Sea Coast, Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island

AUTUMN

Mount Taranaki in autumn light, New Zealand
Mount Taranaki in autumn light

AUTUMN in New Zealand is Autumn’s bright crisp foliage colour, limited visitor numbers and the pleasure of exploring outdoors heritage sites from 19th century gold mining trails to Maori cultural attractions in the winterless North.

 

Temperature range from +7 to +21 degrees Celsius

WINTER

WINTER in New Zealand is for sports. Skiing and snowboard holiday the best months are late July / August.

Photographers will love wintery moody landscapes with snow capped mountain ranges, icy bare tree branches and snow enthusiasts will adore the advent of fresh powder, and astrophotographers know winter heralds the “Milky Way season.”

 

Temperatures range from +1.5 to +15.5 degrees Celsius

Lake Coleridge scenic winter landscape, New Zealand
Lake Coleridge scenic winter landscape

YEAR ROUND

Maori storehouse, Rotowhio Marae, Te Puia, New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, Rotorua, NZ
Maori storehouse, Rotowhio Marae, Te Puia, New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, Rotorua

YEAR ROUND in New Zealand Family friendly attractions and indoors offer visitors plenty of cool indoor activities to keep everyone entertained

Year round New Zealand encites visiting couples with romantic moments. Find things to do for couples from sunset locations, indoor hot pools to quiet beaches means year round New Zealand has something to offer couples

Year round heritage enthusiasts year round have museums, galleries and historic sites to wander through regardless of the raindrops outside.

TIP

Check for NZ public holidays and school holidays can create bottlenecks in popular attractions and places to stay.

STILL NOT SURE HOW TO EXPLORE NEW ZEALAND AND THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT?

The best way to explore New Zealand is an itinerary that ticks your must-do attractions and must-go places and allows for flexibility and spontaneity. Diversity combined with four distinct seasons adds a wealth of attractions and things to do and see on your road trip.

Spend time browsing New Zealand road trip itineraries designed to reflect your interests from wildlife to ski holidays.  …  our New Zealand road trips highlight what are the best things to see in New Zealand and, where to go.

Mt Larkins from Kinloch Road, Glenorchy, NZ
Mt. Larkins from Kinloch Road, Glenorchy
INTERESTING FACT

New Zealand did not undergo the extreme ice ages of the northern hemisphere, and as a result, not many of our trees are cold tolerant. They don’t have the protective adaptation of losing leaves in the winter as many northern hemisphere trees do. Source: The uniqueness of New Zealand plants (see travel pack section for citation).

Check out New Zealand average temperatures for the month you are planning to visit either the North or South Island. Or anywhere in between. The most reliable weather forecast service is NZ Met Service.

New Zealand’s peak visitor numbers are in January. School holidays, New Zealand and Australia, consistent summer weather, public holidays and summer festivals make late December (from 26th onwards to January reaching into early February) the enduring most popular period for holidays in New Zealand.

New Zealand summer months are December to mid March. The average temperature is between 20c to 30c. The sun has a high UV factor so apply plenty of sunscreen especially January and February.

 

TIP: Check the local NZ met weather forecast for UV daily warnings.

New Zealand foliage colour change occurs in exotic trees. The native trees are largely evergreen. The autumn or fall spectacular foliage display is relatively short and happens mid April.

Winter in New Zealand spans the months of June through August, with cold snaps in September especially in the South Island.

TIP

Nzjane advises not to let the weather affect your plans for a bucket list attraction. Plan for the unpredictable and enjoy.

Whakapapa Village in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Whakapapa Village in Tongariro National Park

Rainfall is unpredictable in New Zealand, the promise of dry days can be broken anytime of the year. With climate change affecting New Zealand’s rainfall check out the reliable NZ Cumulative Rainfall – MetService New Zealand for authoritative data and do not let the data spoil the holiday plans. Simply pack a raincoat instead.

Check out New Zealand average temperatures for the month you are planning to visit either the North or South Island. Or anywhere in between. The most reliable weather forecast service is NZ Met Service.

Weather in New Zealand is four seasons in one day. Aotearoa New Zealand is several skinny narrow islands isolated in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Glorious day throughout the year is a promise together with the option of rain throughout the year. 

Seasons are the opposite to Europe, United Kingdom, North America (northern hemisphere) creating a great winter escape for our neighbours in the Far East and beyond. Peak season is summer, December to February.

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

 

  • NEW ZEALAND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
  • Monthly temperature data is sourced from Monthly | NIWA. For visitors fascinated by climate change data NIWA provides a rich publicly available resource to browse
  • Source The uniqueness of New Zealand plants an excellent school resource handy for visitors to help understand NZ’s unique biodiversity

 

AFFILIATE PARTNER STATEMENT
Our editors independently visit tour operators, purchase tickets, pay for accommodation, and rate products and places. We are not paid to go on a tour or visit a place. We only make money if you decide to purchase a product through our website links. We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.

 

BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE

Best Bits travel guide is published by nzjane.com. Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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