When is the best time to visit New Zealand?
New Zealand is a small island country towards the south-east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. It consists of two large land parts, the South Island and the North Island, and over 700 smaller islands surrounding it. With a population of just 5 million residents, most of the country is still an undisturbed beauty. This is because almost 85% of the population lives in urban areas like cities, and the remaining spread out over the country. It is also one of the last countries to be settled by people apart from the native Polynesians. Therefore, it has the best natural biodiversity giving it stunning natural beauty.
New Zealand has on offer some of the most amazing natural beauty in the world. With picturesque green forests, towering snow-capped mountain peaks, mist-cloaked fjords, beautiful National Parks, ancient glaciers, lots of thrilling adventure opportunities, active volcanoes, and serenity of golden sun-kissed beaches, untamed wilderness, gushing glaciers to pristine lakes, the rich Maori culture, some of the best wines and lots more. No wonder it is the most sought-after destination in the world today. Tourism is an important sector in New Zealand’s economy and contributes about 6% of the total GDP and employs about 7.5% of the country’s workforce.
New Zealand lies in the southern hemisphere. Because of this, its weather patterns and seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a blessing in disguise as travelers can travel to enjoy the sun in New Zealand when it winters in Europe and North America. Besides, a significant number of visitors (around 1.5 million per year) travel from Australia to New Zealand as well. This is because of its proximity to the Australian landmass, making it an easy travel destination for Australians. Let us first look at the different seasons in New Zealand to understand when the best time to be there is.
This season lasts from December to February, when the temperatures are warm and welcoming. This is the best weather for exploring the cities and engaging with the crowds. The overall environment is always pleasant and delightful. Specifically, the month of February is overall the best weather in New Zealand. You can expect the summers to be hot and January to be the hottest when temperatures to above 30 degrees Celsius for several days. Despite this, the average temperatures will be 20 to 25 degrees Celsius during summers, which is extremely good for all tourism-related activities. When it comes to the weather, New Zealand is full of sunshine and clear sunny skies. All this when the rest of the northern hemisphere is covered in a cold wave with many countries facing the freezing cold.
If you are not used to the heat and are coming from a cold country, the heat and the hot weather can make things a bit difficult for tourists to get acclimatized to. However, it is these pleasant temperatures make all the outdoor activities a lot of fun and engaging. Summers will host a lot of tourism and non-tourism-related events. There will be triathlons, races, marathons, and several other events happening. Tourists can participate in any of these events or enjoy them as a viewer. Everything is in full bloom, and you will find all the vegetation in its full glory. Days are the longest of the year, and you will find that a single day will fit in a lot more activities than you can cover.
Autumn season will last from March to May when the climate changes and the temperatures start to dip as winter approaches finally. The weather is great, and the temperatures are not too hot or not too cold. Towards the middle of the season, you will see the leaves will change color slowly and fall away to send a message that winters are imminent. Nevertheless, you will see beautiful Copper, Red, Orange, and Yellow-colored leaves everywhere on the ground and the trees, making the views mesmerizing and captivating. This will last a few days, but if you catch the right days, the beauty is something that makes for great memories.
This season is especially preferred by outdoor activity enthusiasts like hikers, climbers, who can make use of the pleasant and soothing weather to appreciate the beauty of nature, undertake biking, camping, rock climbing, mountain climbing, hiking, and more. You can also go wildlife spotting in their natural habitat. The weather is warm with sunshine and a cool breeze. All make a wonderful combination to explore the country without getting fatigued and sweaty due to the heat, usually in summers. Hiking mountain trails are still open and accessible even at higher altitudes, and you can enjoy the hikes without getting tired, which are comparatively easy due to the cooler weather. Similarly, you can undertake cycling tours in the cities or countryside, which will take you through beautiful cities, towns, gardens, and villages and treat this time of the year.
Winters will last from June to August, and these 3 months will see temperatures dip to their lowest in the year. You will see snow everywhere, and if you are a winter lover, you can visit at this time of the year to enjoy all the winter activities that New Zealand has to offer in the winters. The temperatures can drop quite a bit, get chilly, and go up to 5 degrees Celsius. Urban and rural temperatures can vary quite a bit. The rural areas like villages, mountains, jungles, etc., can face even negative temperatures. Overall average temperatures will be in the range of 7 to 13 degrees Celsius, and days will get shorter. So plan your outdoor activities in sync with the sunrise and sunset times that are available on a lot of weather apps.
Winters are a ski lover’s paradise in New Zealand, with a lot of mountain slopes fully covered with snow and ready for them. These slopes are safe for skiing and available in different elevations and grades for skiing. If you are a first-timer, do not worry, as there are quite a few gentle hill slopes that allow newcomers and beginners to ski safely with ease without risk anything. If you are more adventure-seeking and brave, you can opt for the winter hiking activities that will take you through some mountain trails full blanketed by snow cover.
The quiet natural beauty of the surroundings makes it a very surreal affair. This is the most recommended activity in winters and is almost like meditation. We cannot miss the ancient glaciers in New Zealand, which are a sight to behold in winders. You can check one of the several like Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, and more. Don’t miss the fun of sledding on the glaciers.
Spring season lasts September to November, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 21 degrees Celsius. The days are brighter, start to get longer than the winters with comparatively more sunlight and sunshine. Day weather will feel soothing pleasant with the warm sunshine and the cool winds that blow, indicating summers’ onset. Even the natives will start to move out regularly, and you can see them enjoying the sunshine and sunbathing in the lakes. The spring weather brings a lot of excitement to activities like trekking and hiking that people have been waiting for all winter.
However, the trails can be damp and muddy due to the thawing ice in the mountains. Spring and autumn have a lot in common, and you can pursue the same activities that we already discussed in the autumn section. E.g. cycling tours, hiking, exploring outdoors, mountain climbing, etc. All the natural beauty and vegetation is in full bloom, with fresh leaves and flowers covering the landscape, the hills, and valleys. This is a time when the weather ensures you can do a lot more without getting easily tired. Spring and autumn give some of the best views in New Zealand. While you can still see snow on mountain tops, there will be some places where it has not completely melted, and you can still enjoy snow activities.
It is a good time to hit the coastline for wonderful sunny beaches and warm waters to welcome you. You can enjoy some water sports like paragliding or jet skiing or alternately go on boat tours and enjoy snorkeling.
Best time to travel for good weather
Undoubtedly summers are the best with longer days and great sunny weather. However, the high temperatures may not be comfortable for all, so carry sunblock creams, light clothing, a hat, and some shades to give you some respite. This is the time when the entire country comes to life, and you can enjoy the best of all activities. Besides, a summer Christmas and New Year’s Eve make it even more exciting.
If summers are too harsh, try autumn or spring, which will be milder and far more pleasant on your body. The days can be a little shorter, but the autumn season views of the colorful leaves and their shedding are mesmerizing, as is the beauty of seeing all the lush green landscape with nature in full bloom in the spring season. You can also hit the coast and enjoy the sunshine and seas as well.
Cheapest time to travel
Summers will be extremely expensive as prices of accommodation and airfares soar to the highest of the season and year. So unless you want to enjoy summers and can manage to book months in advance, we do not recommend this season even though it is the best. We would suggest you explore deals and options for the milder spring and autumn season. You will very easily get good rates and discounts ranging from 10-20% or even more for accommodation, local activities, and airfares.
Do keep these events in mind as you plan your travels as it makes the trip more enjoyable and enjoys the local events.
- ASB Bank Tennis Classic, Auckland
- Heineken Open, Auckland
- Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta, Auckland – sailing event
- World Buskers Festival, Christchurch – street festival
- Wellington Cup Race Meeting, Wellington
- Hawke’s Bay Wine and Food Festival, Hawke’s Bay
- Speight’s Coast to Coast, South Island – A multisport endurance race
- Waitangi Day Celebrations, Bay of Islands – New Zealand’s national day
- Garden City Festival of Flowers, Christchurch
- Brebner Art Deco Weekend, Napier – Art and Heritage festival
- Devonport Food and Wine Festival, Devonport
- Auckland Arts Festival
- Pasifika Festival, Auckland – Cultural festival
- New Zealand International Festival of Arts, Wellington
- Ellerslie International Flower Show Christchurch, Christchurch
- Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, Hokitika
- Arrowtown Autumn Festival, Arrowtown
- Warbirds Over Wanaka, Wanaka – Air show
- Fletcher Challenge Forest Marathon, Rotorua
- Bay of Islands Country Music Festival, Bay of Islands
- Matariki – Maori New Year
- National Agricultural Fieldays, Hamilton
- Queenstown Winter Festival, Queenstown
- Christchurch Arts Festival. Biennially
- Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival, Bay of Islands
- Montana World of Wearable Art Awards, Wellington
- Alexandra Blossom Festival, Alexandra – Spring festival
- Gay Ski Week
- Kaikoura Seafest, Kaikoura
- Dunedin Rhododendron Festival, Dunedin – Cultural Festival
- Nelson Arts Festival, Nelson
- Queenstown Jazz Festival, Queenstown
- Toast Martinborough, Martinborough
- Canterbury A&P Show, Christchurch
- Southern Traverse, South Island
- Nelson Jazz Festival, Nelson
- New Years Eve celebrations
New Zealand makes for an excellent tourist attraction with the best of natural beauty and urban landscapes. The sparse population and the sparsely populated rural areas make the country seem as if it is still stuck in history a few hundred years back. This undisturbed beauty is what attracts a lot of travelers to this part of the world. With a lot of events and activities to keep you entertained and busy, you will be engaged throughout your holiday and enjoy it to the full.
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