With so many amazing places to visit and different activities available in the island country, it’s no wonder many people wonder when the best month to visit New Zealand is.
The simple answer is, it depends.
The ideal time to visit New Zealand varies according to your preferences:
- Would you rather lay on the beach and surf or avoid the heat altogether and go skiing?
- Are you more into indoor or outdoor activities?
The first thing you’ll need to do though, once you’ve decided when to visit New Zealand —detailed tips on picking the best time below— is to register for an NZeTA (a mandatory travel authorisation for NZ that launched in 2019). No worries, the online form just takes a few minutes to fill out with your personal, contact, and passport details.
New Zealand weather and seasons
New Zealand enjoys a temperate climate, which makes it a popular tourist destination year-round. Average temperatures range from 10ºC or 50ºF in the south to 16ºC or 6ººF in the north.
It’s sunny during most of the year, rainfall is moderate, and temperatures are mild, although they may vary from one region of New Zealand to another.
One thing worth considering, depending on where you’re travelling from, is that the seasons in NZ are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. So if you’re visiting from the UK, Canada, or the US, for instance, it would be winter in NZ during your summer holidays.
Nevertheless, New Zealand does have 4 distinct seasons, just like America and Europe, so make sure to pack the right type of clothes for your trip.
- Spring starts in September and ends in November
- Summer starts in December (so it’s hot on Christmas!) and ends in February
- Autumn starts in March and ends in May
- Winter starts in June and ends in August (perfect for a ski vacation when it’s boiling hot back home!)
Travelling to New Zealand in the spring
The average daytime temperatures in New Zealand during the spring range from 16 to 19ºC or 60 to 66ºF. Some days are sunny, whilst others may be cooler and rainy.
This weather makes springtime in NZ ideal for road trips as well as the following activities:
- Visiting the Lord of the Rings filming locations
- Whale and dolphin watching
- See the blooming bluebells and daffodils in Christchurch
- Hiking in Abel Tasman Coast Track
Visiting NZ during the summer
If you’re looking for warmer weather in NZ, you’ll probably prefer the subtropical climate of the North Island (with average temperatures of about 23ºC or 74ºF during the summer) over the temperate climate of its South Island.
With about 15,000 km or 9,300 miles of coastline, New Zealand’s beaches go from idyllic to ideal for water sports and get quite popular during the summer.
Some fun beach activities to try during the summer include:
Summer in NZ is also a great time to take a cruise ship to Antarctica.
Enjoying the fall in New Zealand
The temperatures cooling down slightly in autumn whilst remaining quite pleasant allow visitors to swim in the sea as well as enjoy the beautiful foliage turning golden in the countryside.
Both spring and autumn offer less crowded tourist attractions with mild weather, making them ideal for sightseeing. Average daily temperatures during autumn in New Zealand range between 17 to 21 ºC or 62 to 70 ºF, while nighttime temps are much cooler.
Some enjoyable activities to try when visiting NZ in autumn include:
New Zealand in the wintertime
If you’re dreaming of escaping the heat back home, consider a ski vacation in New Zealand. During the winter temperatures drop to about 12 ºC or 53ºF with increased rainfall on the North Island.
The mountains are snow-capped and both Whakapapa and Cardrona offer great facilities for hitting the slopes.
Other worthwhile activities to try out during the winter in NZ include:
- Touring the glaciers
- Relaxing in geothermal springs
- Visiting museums and other indoor cultural activities
If you travel during the summer, make sure to book your accommodation ahead of time. Visiting during the spring or autumn can often be more budget-friendly as well as allow you to enjoy less crowded attractions.
The best time to visit New Zealand depends on the temperatures you feel most comfortable in, the festivals or events you’d like to attend and the activities you find most enticing.
So there you have it; regardless of when you travel, there’s always something awesome to do in NZ!