The Best Season To Go Travelling In New Zealand
Thinking of joining us in New Zealand for an adventure? Well, the next decision you’ll need to make is when to come!
Our Kiwi brains are jam-packed full of local knowledge about the best time to visit New Zealand, which we are stoked to share with you.
Situated in the Southern Hemisphere, everything is flipped; the stars, the seasons, even the Marmite is all out of whack for Northern Hemisphere folk. And although New Zealand is regularly bundled together with Australia in conversations regarding antipodean countries, we’re far from Australia. Two small islands in the remote South Pacific is more like how we’d define it. And when you rock up in New Zealand for the adventure of a lifetime, you’ll realise why.
As you start to alter your perspective and see New Zealand as those two little islands nestled between the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea, you’ll quickly realise that the weather is much like that of a small island nation – sometimes unpredictable, changeable, and very respective to the regions. When a cold front rolls in it rolls in fast. And when a heatwave comes through? Dayum, it’s hot! But no matter the season, you’ll need every piece of clothing gear you can imagine to cover all weather conditions.
Year-round, the country remains stunning, no matter where you venture. But there are some months and seasons which are best depending on where you want to travel, what activities you’re looking to do, and the kind of weather you prefer. Each season certainly has a defining moment and region that is a must-see.
In this post, we’ll give you the lowdown on the best time to visit New Zealand, including the best season to visit specific places. The truth is, New Zealand is amazing year-round, so this guide is to help you decide which is the best season to travel in New Zealand according to your preferences!
Months: September, October, November Temperature range: 7 – 19ºC
The weather is cooler than summer in general but as you enter November, the daytime temperatures become pretty mild. Saying that, ski fields and slopes are still good until mid-October. If you’re into winter sports, this is still a good time to head out. Spring is known as the shoulder season, meaning the prices are a little cheaper. Also, with the warming weather, it’s a really comfortable temperature to do other outdoor activities such as hiking and camping (with thermals!).
It can be wet, and weather can be inconsistent depending on the region. Some cold fronts come through especially in the South Island. During spring, the UV levels are higher so you’ll need to be more alert about taking precautions to protect your skin – even when there’s cloud, the sun is incredibly strong, and can appear deceiving. There are also fewer events in spring than the likes of summer and early autumn.
A Must-Visit In Spring…
Lake Tekapo is a sight for sore eyes during spring as it bursts into colour, making the already awe-inspiring views even more stunning! You’ll find tall standing, vibrant and beautiful lupins sprouting up in pinks, purples, blues, and yellows along the lakeside from spring to summer. There’s no doubt that these colourful lupins make for the perfect ‘gram, with the turquoise blue of Lake Tekapo acting as a stunning backdrop.
Months: December, January, February Temperature range: 12 – 25ºC
Long days, warm weather, balmy nights, every excuse you can imagine to eat ice cream for breakfast (we won’t judge) and spend endless time barefoot, salty and outdoors. That being said, there is generally more activities on offer during this time due to more consistent weather. So, if you want to tick off a bucket list activity such as skydiving and bungee jumping, it’s highly recommended during this season.
As summer is New Zealand’s peak season, you’ll encounter busy roads and heaps of tourists. If you want to see sunrise, you’ll need to get up ridiculously early around 5am. It’s also the school holidays throughout the month of January, and us kiwis love to travel in our own backyard. We tend to do a lot of it in the summer. It can get really hot too especially during a heatwave so we’d recommend nothing less than SPF50 sunscreen (if you’re thinking of long lazy days on the beach). You’ll definitely need to book prior to arrival in summer as most campsites and accommodations are booked up months in advance. Don’t worry though, we’ll sort all that for you on a Wild Kiwi trip, all you need to do is hit ‘book’ and we’ll do the rest.
A Must-Visit In Summer…
The Coromandel could not be dreamier in the summer; crystal clear waters and white sand beaches make. This an idyllic location to see through a few of those summer days. If you’re up for the challenge, get up early enough to watch the sunrise – maybe even take a sunrise dip in the ocean if you’re brave enough!
Months: March, April, May Temperature range: 11 – 20ºC
The schools have all gone back and there are less people travelling around New Zealand. March has hot days that are long enough to stretch the summer out for an extra month. Autumn is also a dope time to travel if you like the idea of summer but the crowds put you off. Enjoy cosy evenings and mornings with the cooler start and ends to the day – a welcome relief after summer months! We love a good snuggle after a summery day. Hiking and outdoors activities are still accessible and temperatures allow for comfortable outdoor activity without completely melting. Autumn is considered one of New Zealand’s shoulder seasons. And, it can work out slightly cheaper than summer in general. Also, autumnal colours are vibrant in parts of the country with deciduous trees which makes for some seriously stunning scenery.
By mid-April and into May the days start drawing in and it quickly starts to feel like winter. If you like the cooler weather, you’ll love the later months in autumn. It’s all relevant to personal choice as far as the temperature goes.
A Must-Visit In Autumn…
Our Autumn pick is Kaikoura and we’ve got a good reason for it. This little village on the east coast of the South Island boasts the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range. Head out to sea and you might see seals frolicking in the surf, plus Kaikoura offers the opportunity to swim with dolphins. It’s less busy than summer but the water temperature is still warm enough to enjoy salty adventures!
Months: June, July, August Temperature range: 1 – 15ºC
Apart from in towns like Queenstown and Wanaka (peak winter sports season), this is known as New Zealand’s off peak season. The good news is accommodation is never usually fully booked this time of year. Backpackers also tend to travel in winter because they spend the whole busy period of summer working. So you’re most likely to be joined by fellow backpackers rather than hoards of tourist crowds. And, while the weather is cooler, you are likely to have some locations and destinations all to yourself.
The weather is unpredictable and inconsistent, meaning this can throw off plans and activities like skydiving, bungee jumping and sailing for example. If you’re an adventure junkie hoping to lap up as much of the aforementioned as possible, winter might not be the month for you. Because it’s New Zealand’s off-peak season, you’ll also find that there are less events going on countrywide. Even remote little towns in the Coromandel close down completely in winter. If you like to experience the buzzy vibe of a destination when you travel, again winter might not be the month for you with most places going into total hibernation mode.
A Must-Visit In Winter…
The Remarkables are just really, well, remarkable! Snow-capped mountain peaks are the stuff of adventure dreams, so travelling to South Island New Zealand – and in particular the Southern Alps – is a must in winter. If the idea of a winter wonderland has you frothing, head over to our post all about exploring New Zealand in the winter.
Have you decided which season you’d love to travel to New Zealand? Check out our Wild Kiwi trips on offer and make that dream become a reality!