The best time of year to go to New Zealand

best time to travel to new zealand

New Zealand is a popular tourist destination throughout the year thanks to its temperate climate.

With no extreme temperature fluctuations, there’s no need to avoid certain months. Instead, travellers should consider which of the many tourist attractions in New Zealand they want to visit and their weather preferences when choosing the best season for the trip.

As the eTA for New Zealand is multiple-entry and valid for 2 years, tourists with the travel authorization may choose to return at different times of the year to experience everything the country has to offer.

What is the weather like in New Zealand all year round?

When planning a trip to New Zealand, it’s important to bear in mind that the seasons in the southern hemisphere are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. This means that when it is summer in the US, for example, it’s winter in New Zealand.

There are 4 seasons in New Zealand, each lasting 3 months:

  • Spring: September, October, and November
  • Summer: December, January, and February
  • Autumn: March, April, and May
  • Winter: June, July, and August

Most of New Zealand enjoys a temperate climate given that a large proportion of the country is close to the coast.

Whilst there are regional variations due to New Zealand’s diverse landscape, travellers can enjoy mild temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and moderate rainfall during most of the year.

Visitors should be sure to take suitable clothing for New Zealand depending on the season.

What is the hottest part of New Zealand?

New Zealand’s North Island experiences subtropical weather conditions and is warmer than the temperate South Island.

Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, is situated towards the north of North Island and as such is one of the warmest places in the country. The average daily summer temperature in Auckland is around 23 ºC (74 ºF).

The nation’s capital, Wellington, is in the very south of North Island and experiences average summer maximum temperatures around 20 ºC (68 ºF), the city is known for being particularly windy.

Spring in New Zealand

Spring in New Zealand is from September to November with average daytime temperatures from 16 to 19 ºC (60 to 66 ºF).

Weather is changeable in Spring in New Zealand from crisp sunny days to cooler conditions and rain showers.

September, October, and November are popular months to travel to New Zealand as conditions are great for exploring the impressive natural landscapes.

The best places to visit in New Zealand in spring

Spring is a particularly good month to see the Lord of the Rings filming locations, in particular, the Hobbiton movie set as the gardens are in bloom at this time of year.

Other recommended places to see in New Zealand during Spring are:

  • Whakarewarewa Forest for hiking, mountain biking, and walking
  • Hamilton Gardens, a 54-hectare public garden park
  • Hauraki Gulf for whale and dolphin watching

Summer in New Zealand

Visitors in search of high temperatures and sunshine should go to New Zealand in summer. From December to February average daytime temperatures hover between 20 and 25 ºC (68 to 77 ºF).

Summer days in New Zealand are long and sunny and nights are mild. New Zealand’s beaches are very popular at this time of year and many are great for swimming, surfing, and other water sports.

January and December are some of the best months to travel to Antarctica from New Zealand. It is reached by cruise ship and most accessible during the summer months.

The best beaches to visit in New Zealand

Spending time at the beach is a perfect summertime activity in New Zealand. With 15,000 km (9,300 miles) of coastline, there are many great beaches to choose from, including:

  • Maitai Bay, Northland: for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking
  • Ninety Mile Beach, Northland: for bodyboarding and surfcasting
  • Bay of Plenty, Tauranga: for surfing and beachside cafes
  • Wharariki Beach, Puponga: for wildlife, caves and horseback riding

Autumn in New Zealand

Temperatures are cooler in fall than in summer but remain pleasant. Average daily temperatures from March through to May are in the region of 17 to 21 ºC (62 to 70 ºF). Nights become much cooler from April.

The beaches are still enjoyable during the autumn months and in many places, it’s possible to bathe in the sea until April.

New Zealand has both evergreen and deciduous trees, the landscape turns golden and orange from March.

What to do in New Zealand in Autumn

Autumn is a good time to enjoy nature in New Zealand, many places are less crowded than during the summer, and conditions are ideal for sightseeing.

The following activities can be enjoyed throughout New Zealand in autumn:

  • Hike one of the Great Walks
  • Try fly fishing for trout or salmon
  • Go stargazing
  • Attend a festival or fair such as the NZ Gift and Homeware Fair

Winter in New Zealand

From June to August, average daily temperatures in New Zealand drop to 12 to 16 ºC (53 to 61 ºF). The North Island also experiences increased rainfall in winter.

New Zealand is converted into an excellent ski destination during the winter months as mountains become snow-capped. Whakapapa on the North Island and Cardrona on the South Island are both popular choices.

What to do in New Zealand in winter

In addition to hitting the ski slopes, there are many other interesting winter activities in New Zealand, such as:

  • Visiting the glaciers of New Zealand
  • Enjoying geothermal springs in Rotorua or Hammer Springs
  • Exploring Queenstown
  • Watching the annual New Zealand Fashion Week

Tourists are recommended to book accommodation and popular activities in advance whenever possible, especially if going to New Zealand during spring or summer.

Eligible travellers must also apply for the New Zealand eTA when planning their trip.