When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?

The best time to visit New Zealand is in the summer, between December and February. The summer months bring plenty of sunny skies and warm temperatures to the North Island and South Island. With the beautiful weather, it’s the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy New Zealand’s famous outdoor activities, like hiking, mountain biking, and hanging out on its pristine beaches.

If you want to escape the tourist crowds while still enjoying the outdoors, the shoulder seasons of late spring (November) and early autumn (March-April) are great alternatives, too. In these months, you’ll experience comfortable temperatures without the burden of the summer high-season busyness.

Ready to plan your ultimate NZ adventure at the perfect time of year? Let’s dig deeper with this complete New Zealand weather guide, including a full breakdown by season and by month!

Seasons in New Zealand

New Zealand is a year-round destination with four distinct seasons: summer, autumn, winter, and spring. With its South Pacific southern hemisphere location, there are some differences, though. The seasons in New Zealand are opposite from the northern hemisphere. It’s the perfect place to escape the cool winters of North America and Europe. (Or to escape the summer heat on a ski vacation!)


As half of the world bundles up to resist the cold, the end of the year marks the beginning of New Zealand’s summer season. Summer in New Zealand starts in December and carries on until the end of February.

During the summer, temperatures in New Zealand rise, and sunny skies prevail. Spending time outdoors at this time of year is an absolute blessing for visitors!

Hanmer Springs

Summer is the finest season for hiking, walking, and biking. It’s also prime time for watersports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming. You’ll also discover fresh fruit harvests throughout the country. Check out the cherries and apricots in Central Otago and apples around Hawke’s Bay. (Both of these areas are also famous New Zealand wine regions.)

The only drawback to planning a New Zealand road trip adventure in summer is the crowds. December to February is the peak tourist season in New Zealand. If you’re planning to travel to New Zealand at this time, be sure to book your flights, tours, and accommodations up to 6 months in advance. It’s especially important for super popular destinations like Milford Sound and Queenstown.


To escape the crowds of peak season, autumn is another excellent alternative. Autumn in New Zealand falls between March and May. The temperatures are cooler than the summer highs, but they’re still quite pleasant throughout most of the country.

Lake Wanaka

The autumn months are a fantastic time for sightseeing throughout New Zealand. The hiking trails are less crowded, and the fall colours will be out in full force by mid-season. For the loveliest autumn colours in New Zealand, head to Central Otago, Queenstown, and Christchurch on South Island.

If want to visit New Zealand in the fall, be sure to plan ahead during the Easter holidays and April school holidays. It’s a busy time of year around the country. You’ll also want to add some warmer clothing and base layers to your New Zealand packing list. Days and nights get chillier into mid- to late fall.


If you don’t mind the colder and wetter weather, winter isn’t a bad time of year to visit New Zealand. Winter in New Zealand lasts between June and August. Yes, you’ll encounter cooler temperatures and less blissful weather. But intrepid travellers shouldn’t write off winter quite yet.

For skiers and snowboarders, winter is a great time to go to New Zealand. The ski season in New Zealand generally runs between June and early October. The majority of the top ski resorts in New Zealand are located on South Island. Most are around Queenstown, Wanaka, Mount Hutt, and Canterbury. On North Island, the most popular ski fields for a ski holiday are Whakapapa and Turoa in Tongariro National Park.

Winter at Mount Cook

Throughout the winter months, it’s relatively quiet around New Zealand. If you’re planning a self-drive holiday, you’ll have many of the roads to yourself. Other than in the mountain passes of South Island, winter driving conditions are relatively care-free.

Accommodation prices in NZ also tend to be lower in winter with better availability. The only exception is during the July school holidays when families hit the road. Be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment!


With its longer days & warmer temperatures, spring is another fantastic time to travel to New Zealand. Spring in New Zealand falls between September and November. And it’s a great time to visit the country! You’ll not only enjoy warmer weather, but you’ll also avoid the crowds of the high tourist season.

Botanic Gardens

As you travel throughout New Zealand in spring, you’ll experience its cities, towns, and countryside at their most colourful. On South Island, the snow-capped Southern Alps draw an impressive backdrop to a magnificent spring bloom. Check out the parks & gardens of Christchurch and Dunedin to see it in its full effect. On North Island, the spring blossoms at Hawke’s Bay and around Taupo and Tongariro National Park are worth a gander.

New Zealand weather by month


January is one of the warmest months of the year in New Zealand and sits at the peak of the tourist high season. School’s out for summer, and families are keen to pack up and hit the open road. January is not a great month to travel, however, if you don’t like crowds!

Champagne Pool in Rotorua

January in New Zealand also brings a barrage of wonderful festivals. A few you might want to check out include the Laneway Festival in Auckland, the World Buskers’ Festival in Christchurch, and the New Zealand Rugby Sevens tournament in Hamilton.

Needless to say, you’ll want to book your activities and your hotels ahead of time.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 22°C / 73°F 19°C / 66°F 20°C / 68°F 30mm
Wellington 20°C / 68°F 15°C / 59°F 18°C / 64°F 30mm
Christchurch 23°C / 73°F 13°C / 55°F 18°C / 64°F 40mm
Queenstown 22°C / 72°F 10°C / 50°F 16°C / 61°F 75mm


February is the hottest month of the year in New Zealand on average and one of the most popular for travellers. Many of the most popular travel destinations—including Auckland, Queenstown, Wellington, and Christchurch—are at their driest in February. Get out and enjoy the sunny blue skies!

With the hot weather and sunny days, spending time on the beach is a must. Even if your itinerary sticks to the big city, there are a ton of great beaches near Auckland. Make your way to Piha Beach & Bethells Beach on the west coast and Oneroa Beach & Onetangi Beach on beautiful Waiheke Island.

Piha Beach

February is an excellent month for water sports, too. You’ll enjoy activities on the water like kayaking, surfing, and boating. You’ll also love getting to hit the hiking trails for some great walks.

February in New Zealand is a festive time of year. New Zealand’s national day, Waitangi Day, falls on February 6th. Wine lovers will love The Marlborough Food and Wine Festival, New Zealand’s oldest wine festival. The fun & invigorating NZ Fringe Festival in Wellington often falls towards the end of the month.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 23°C / 73°F 17°C / 63°F 20°C / 68°F 30mm
Wellington 21°C / 70°F 16°C / 61°F 19°C / 66°F 20mm
Christchurch 22°C / 72°F 12°C / 54°F 17°C / 63°F 40mm
Queenstown 22°C / 72°F 10°C / 50°F 16°C / 61°F 52mm


March is the first official month of autumn in New Zealand. Average daytime temperatures throughout the country, however, are still quite pleasant. There are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in March in New Zealand.

Bay of Islands

To bask in the last vestiges of the warm weather, head to the far north of North Island to the Bay of Islands or to inland destinations like Rotorua. Otherwise, much of the country is open for business in this shoulder season month.

Wine lovers should drop down to the South Island. The most popular wine-growing areas are Central Otago, Queenstown, Wanaka, and North Canterbury. Although March is the rainiest month of the year in the region, it’s the perfect time to experience wine festivals. Check out the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival and North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 22°C / 72°F 15°C / 59°F 19°C / 66°F 40mm
Wellington 20°C / 68°F 14°C / 57°F 17°C / 63°F 30m
Christchurch 20°C / 68°F 11°C / 52°F 16°C / 61°F 50mm
Queenstown 20°C / 68°F 9°C / 48°F 15°C / 59°F 84mm


The full transition to autumn begins in New Zealand in April. Near the beginning of the month, the autumn leaves start to change colours, erupting into stunning bright reds, oranges, and yellows. The fall colours hit their peak in mid-April.

Autumn Road

Want to see the autumn colours at their finest in April? Throw Arrowtown, Queenstown, Te Anau, or Lake Tekapo in Mackenzie Country into your New Zealand holiday plans. Also, save time for The Southern Lakes Festival of Colour, a popular performing arts festival in Wanaka. It’s an excellent addition to an April visit.

Outside of the buzzing Easter holiday, April offers a quieter New Zealand travel experience. You’ll also enjoy cheaper accommodation prices than at other times during the year.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 20°C / 68°F 13°C / 55°F 17°C / 63°F 40mm
Wellington 17°C / 63°F 12°C / 54°F 15°C / 59°F 40mm
Christchurch 18°C / 64°F 7°C / 45°F 13°C / 55°F 40mm
Queenstown 16°C / 61°F 6°C / 43°F 11°C / 52°F 67mm


Any remaining heat is out the window as we move into May. Average temperatures throughout New Zealand drop in May. Even on the warmer North Island, temperatures start to drop into the single digits and low-teens.

If you bundle up in layers, though, May is still a good month to travel. With the cooler conditions, active pursuits like mountain biking and hiking are popular.

Ohau River Mackenzie Country

For culture lovers, May offers plenty, too. It’s officially New Zealand Music Month when the country’s most popular and up-and-coming artists hit the stage, radio, and TV. In Auckland, the written word is celebrated at the Auckland Writers’ Festival. Film takes centre stage at the Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand’s movie capital of Wellington.

Foodies will also be spoiled for choice on their May holiday. The Bluff Oyster & Food Festival in Southland and the Great New Zealand Food Show in Hamilton are great choices.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 17°C / 63°F 11°C / 52°F 14°C / 57°F 50mm
Wellington 15°C / 59°F 10°C / 50°F 13°C / 55°F 50mm
Christchurch 14°C / 57°F 4°C / 39°F 9°C / 48°F 50mm
Queenstown 12°C / 54°F 3°C / 37°F 8°C / 46°F 81mm


June is the official start of winter in New Zealand. In June, the ski season in New Zealand ramps up quickly, with many of the most popular ski areas in New Zealand opening up as soon as the snow begins falling in the alpine areas.

The Remarkables

To kick it all off, Queenstown heads up New Zealand’s winter months with the Queenstown Winter Festival (on hiatus as of 2023). Held over 10 days in June and July, this popular annual festival fuses music, winter sports, and family-friendly activities for a load of holiday fun.

June in New Zealand also sees Matariki (Maori New Year) celebrated throughout both main islands.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 15°C / 59°F 9°C / 48°F 12°C / 54°F 50mm
Wellington 12°C / 54°F 8°C / 46°F 10°C / 50°F 40mm
Christchurch 11°C / 52°F 2°C / 36°F 7°C / 45°F 30mm
Queenstown 8°C / 46°F 0°C / 32°F 4°C / 39°F 74mm


By July, the ski season in New Zealand is in full swing. By now, all the most popular ski fields will be opened up. Snowfall is at its peak in July, and skiing conditions are at their finest.

Fox Glacier

Besides skiing holidays, July is a surprisingly good time to take to the trails. You’ll need to bundle up with warm clothing, but you’ll encounter little resistance. Many of New Zealand’s best walking tracks will be at their quietest. With its milder temperatures, North Island is a good place to set your sights.

Other than in the top skiing destinations, prices in New Zealand tend to be near their lowest in July, while hotel availability is at its highest.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 14°C / 57°F 8°C / 46°F 11°C / 52°F 60mm
Wellington 12°C / 54°F 7°C / 45°F 10°C / 50°F 30mm
Christchurch 11°C / 52°F 1°C / 34°F 6°C / 43°F 20mm
Queenstown 8°C / 46°F 0°C / 32°F 4°C / 39°F 58mm


August is the last official month of winter in New Zealand. August in New Zealand sees ski season still truckin’ on. If the cold weather proves tiring, there’s hope: Destinations on North Island, such as the Bay of Islands and Rotorua, start to see respite. They start to see a return to milder conditions in August.

Lake Wakatipu

If you’ve planned a New Zealand South Island itinerary, though, it doesn’t need to be just a skiing holiday. Add Kaikoura on the east coast of South Island for a whale-watching adventure. Or visit the small resort town of Hanmer Hot Springs for a relaxing late-winter getaway.

Like May, August is one of the best months to visit New Zealand for foodies. There’s a handful of awesome festivals & events to tickle the palate. Check out Visa Wellington on a Plate and Auckland Restaurant Month.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 15°C / 59°F 8°C / 46°F 12°C / 54°F 50mm
Wellington 13°C / 55°F 8°C / 46°F 11°C / 52°F 40mm
Christchurch 12°C / 54°F 3°C / 37°F 8°C / 46°F 50mm
Queenstown 10°C / 50°F 1°C / 34°F 6°C / 43°F 59mm


While most of September still falls into winter, by the end of the month, spring in New Zealand springs into gear. As the flowers start to bloom, you’ll be met with colourful scenes and delicate fresh scents as you travel around the country.

September sees an explosion of festivals to mark the seasonal change. Check out the Nelson Cherry Blossom Festival to see the blossoms at their finest. Other choices include the Palmerston North International Spring Festival or the Alexandra Blossom Festival.

Spring in Glenorchy

Carve out time to visit botanical gardens in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington. They’re also spectacular in September.

Keep in mind that the weather conditions in September are chaotic. Although milder, September is the windiest month in New Zealand. Rain and snow are never out of the question.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 16°C / 61°F 10°C / 50°F 13°C / 55°F 40mm
Wellington 14°C / 57°F 9°C / 48°F 12°C / 54°F 50mm
Christchurch 15°C / 59°F 5°C / 41°F 10°C / 50°F 30mm
Queenstown 13°C / 55°F 3°C / 37°F 8°C / 46°F 77mm


With winter in the rearview mirror, October brings with it New Zealand’s finest springtime weather. Temperatures in October are mild, and conditions are relatively dry as the days grow longer.

Spring River Avon Christchurch

While the winds are still strong, it’s a fun time to travel around New Zealand for cultural events. Spice up your adventure with the Auckland Heritage Festival, Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, or the Akaroa French Festival.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 17°C / 63°F 12°C / 54°F 15°C / 59°F 40mm
Wellington 16°C / 61°F 11°C / 52°F 14°C / 57°F 50mm
Christchurch 17°C / 63°F 7°C / 45°F 12°C / 54°F 50mm
Queenstown 16°C / 61°F 6°C / 43°F 11°C / 52°F 90mm


Although it’s still officially spring, November sees a shift towards summery conditions. The scenes remain quintessentially spring as lush rolling pastures and bright blooms take centre stage.

Mount Taranaki

Crowds pick up throughout November in New Zealand, although they still remain small compared to the peak tourist season. Planning to visit popular travel destinations like Auckland, Wellington or Queenstown? Book your flights, accommodations, and tickets in advance.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 19°C / 66°F 13°C / 55°F 16°C / 61°F 40mm
Wellington 17°C / 63°F 11°C / 52°F 14°C / 57°F 40mm
Christchurch 19°C / 66°F 10°C / 50°F 15°C / 59°F 20mm
Queenstown 18°C / 64°F 7°C / 45°F 13°C / 55°F 65mm


Summer is officially here as we move into December in New Zealand. Of course, the bright sunny skies and lovely weather also invite larger tourist crowds to the two main islands.

Doubtful Sound

Into December, the days grow longer, with the sun setting as late as 9 pm. In fact, December might be the best time to enjoy the outdoors in New Zealand. Be sure to take full advantage during your visit. Hit up walking tracks in places like Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound before the peak crowds descend.

Even though it lacks the white Christmas Northern Hemisphere dwellers are used to, the holidays are still a festive time around New Zealand. Stick around for New Year’s Eve. Join in the NYE celebrations in Wellington, the world’s first capital city to usher in the coming new year!

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Auckland 21°C / 70°F 15°C / 59°F 18°C / 64°F 30mm
Wellington 19°C / 66°F 13°C / 55°F 16°C / 61°F 30mm
Christchurch 21°C / 70°F 12°C / 54°F 17°C / 63°F 40mm
Queenstown 21°C / 70°F 9°C / 48°F 15°C / 59°F 69mm

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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