What’s the Best Time to Visit New Zealand? A Traveler’s Guide

February 28

Travelling in New Zealand is a never ending awe-fest. No matter how much you hear about it, the real thing is always better. Think national parks full of glaciers, glorious mountains and native bush. Endless coastline, surf breaks and gorgeous lakes and rivers. Vibrant cities, an abundance of ways to get your adrenaline pumping, and people who don’t make anything a big deal. It’s a place that rewards the open minded and the adventure-ready, the nature seeker and the culture vulture alike. That being said, it also rewards the efficient travel planner.

The awesome snow capped volcano Mt Ngauruhoe from Mt Ruapehu Whakapapa Ski Field Chair Lift New Zealand

New Zealand, as small as it may be, is as diverse as chalk and cheese from top to bottom. As two long and skinny islands, it couldn’t get more different from the subtropical Bay of Islands to the alpine terrain of the south. And then there’s everything in between, sandwiched between Pacific coastline and the wild west coast of the Tasman Sea. On top of that, the country has four distinct seasons which are very different, so when you decide to plan your trip may be pretty important.

The best time to visit New Zealand will depend completely on what you’re after. Powder snow chaser? Winter in the South Island in the month of July or August is where you need to be. Beach hopper? Book your trip for the long days of summer. Hitting the hiking trails? If you want them to yourselves, the shoulder seasons have your name all over them.

Do you need a visa to visit New Zealand?

The visitor’s visa for New Zealand is three months, but for most newcomers, this is nowhere near enough time. Luckily, there’s a long list of countries that are eligible for a year long working holiday visa, which allows you to work and make money as well as vacay when you travel to New Zealand. Whether that means picking grapes for a month or two, or making coffee in Wellington, the working holiday visa gives the immersion-seeking traveler an opportunity to lay down some roots, meet locals and save a bit of cash for the abundance of activities New Zealand has on offer.

How many days do you need to see New Zealand?

How long is a piece of string? Once you roll up to your first spot, be it a backcountry hut in the mountains or a campsite by the sea, you’ll soon see how a night could turn into three and a two week holiday could turn into a month or a year. New Zealand’s islands are diverse, and you’ll want to dedicate a decent chunk of time to each. If you absolutely must put a time limit on it, try and give three weeks each to the North Island and South Island.

What is New Zealand best known for?

It’s got the people, it’s got the cities, but what really puts New Zealand on the travel map is its insane landscapes. From the soaring peaks of the mighty southern alps in the South Island to endless surf breaks and hiking trails that lay a path into the depths of the wild, this place is home to unimaginable beauty. And it’s all waiting to be explored.

Is New Zealand safe for solo travel?

Hell yeah, it’s one of the safest countries to travel in the world. That being said, keep your wits about you on your trip – ask around the local area before hitchhiking on your own, and don’t leave valuables lying around.

Can you camp for free in NZ?

As a country where the outdoors reigns supreme, New Zealand is a dream come true for any die-hard camper. For locals and visitors alike, camping is the most popular way to see the country, whether by campervan, tent or house bus. It’s no surprise as to why – the place is filled with arguably the best spots in the world to wake up and take in the view over a morning coffee.

There are heaps of well located, amenity-filled holiday parks, basic Department of Conservation campsites and designated freedom camping spots for self contained vehicles all around the country. If there are no signs telling you not to, you can generally park up and camp anywhere.

 

How many seasons does NZ have?

Just like the US, New Zealand has four seasons in a year, and being nearly 3,000 miles from the equator, they’re pretty distinct – they’re just back to front compared with the northern hemisphere. The summer months are December, January and February, though if you travel for consistent warm weather, that tends to be through January, February and March. This is followed by Autumn (March, April, May), which brings with it a spectacular show of golden, red and yellow hues, particularly in the South Island.

New Zealand’s winter (June, July, August) comes in a variety of flavors. In the mountains of the South Island and the central North Island, winter in New Zealand is a wonderland of snow sports and snow-covered landscapes. If it’s cutting fresh tracks through powder or enjoying hot mulled wine in the crisp winter weather, this is the best time to visit New Zealand.

In Auckland and the rest of the North Island, winter is pretty mild – it generally just means cooler temperatures and more rainfall. People tend to hibernate, though in the cities like Auckland and Wellington, there’s always something to do. Up next is Spring (September, October, November), when the weather starts to warm up, the days get longer and summer starts to tease. The month of September in the South Island is particularly striking at this time of year, when all the trees that looked dead through winter suddenly go into bloom.

What is peak season in New Zealand?

New Zealand’s summer is definitely the most popular time of year. The summer months (December, January, February) are a dream for long sunny days spent at the beach. Most Kiwis take time off during this season, so there are holiday vibes in the air, and with a festival a weekend through January and February, it’s a great time to travel if you’re looking for a good party.

If that’s you, we’ll give you a quick rundown of the best spots to get your festival fix, from December through to March. Wellington, the country’s capital, puts on an epic all day party for Homegrown in March; the best way to round off summer. To bring in the New Year, head for Rhythm and Alps in Wanaka, or the OG Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne. In February, Splore festival, just south of Auckland, is a wonderland of arts, music and radical human expression. If you ask us, it’s the happiest place in the world, and three days is nowhere near enough. Another classic Auckland festival is Laneway in January, which has seen the likes of Florence, Anderson Paak and the Internet.

A wonderful thing about New Zealand is that different spots reach their peaks at different times, which is perfect if you decide to come for a year. While December through to February boasts the most consistent weather, you can’t beat the crisp temperatures and vibrant colors of the autumn season in Arrowtown – March, April and May bring a dazzling display that will make a photographer out of any traveler. Then there’s the spring season in the Bay of Plenty, when the temperature starts to climb and September starts filling the roadsides with fresh produce. For year round delivery on good weather and sunny days, the best places to hit on your trip are the far north, Nelson and Gisborne.

How hot is the summer in New Zealand?

A New Zealand summer is of that rare variety that boasts an average temperature warm enough to swan about in shorts and a tee, but not so hot that you have to retreat from the heat for a siesta every afternoon. Having said that, some places, like Canterbury or Central Otago in the South Island can see days at this time of year with temperatures of above 30 degrees. For cooler temperatures, plan your trip to visit in the spring season (from September to November).

How hot is New Zealand in January?

Come January, New Zealand is where you want to come for a trip. Time slows down, people chill out and the average temperature is 25 C in the North Island and 22 C in the South Island.

How cold is New Zealand in April?

For hikers, Autumn is one of the best times of year to visit, and April is loved by everyone for its crisp sunny days, clear blue skies and bright nights. The North Island sees average highs of 18-20 C, while the South Island sees average highs of 16-19 C. The hiking trails are far less crowded, too, and rainfall generally doesn’t increase too much until winter. Mount Aspiring National Park or Fiordland National Park, with their almost greedy selection of hikes, are both great spots to enjoy April in all its glory.

Does it rain more in April or May?

The average rainfall increases as winter approaches in New Zealand, so May generally has more rainfall than April. If you’re keen to sunbathe, this is probably not the best month to visit. Of course, it varies hugely depending whether you’re in the sunny Hawke’s Bay, the drier mountains of Central Otago and Canterbury or Milford Sound, the rainiest place in the world.

What do you wear in New Zealand in winter?

If you’re hitting the snow, rug up warm. Winter weather in New Zealand is mild compared to North America or Europe, but it can still get down to -10 C up the mountain through June, July and August. The North Island has warmer days through winter, but you’ll still need warm (and waterproof) layers. In a place like the west coast of the South Island, where wild is generally the theme, a big jacket will never go unused.

Which part of New Zealand has the best weather?

The Hawke’s Bay has the most consistent sunshine, with the best time to visit being February. Now seems a good time, though, to warn anyone who plans to travel to New Zealand about the four seasons in a day. Probably the best piece of advice we can give you? Wherever you go, whenever you go, take a raincoat.

Is it warm enough to swim in New Zealand?

Hell yeah – in the North Island, at least. At the end of spring and early summer, the oceans may be a bit nippy, but by the end of February the ocean temperatures are practically balmy. In the South Island, the beaches are just as beautiful, but we’d recommend a wetsuit. You’ll soon figure that one out though.

So, depending what you’re after, there are lots of ‘best’ times to visit New Zealand. That being said, there’s never a bad time. We’ll see you there.


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