The Best Time To Visit New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. So, with so much to see and do, when is the best time to visit New Zealand?
Best Time to Visit New Zealand. Photo: Casey Horner | Unsplash

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Located in the southern Pacific Ocean next to Australia, New Zealand is a country like no other.

Made up of two main islands and around 600 others, New Zealand boasts diverse landscapes enabling you to experience every type of holiday. 

Home to jaw-dropping mountains, beautiful beaches and the natural phenomenon of Milford Sound, New Zealand is a country everyone must visit at least once in their life.  

So, when is the best time to visit New Zealand? It all depends on what you want to do! 

This article will discuss the different seasons in New Zealand and the best things you can do there to help you make an informed decision on when to visit. 

Visiting New Zealand in Summer – December to February 

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula. Photo: marina | Unsplash

Average daytime temperatures: 20-25˚C

The seasons in New Zealand are the exact opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere, so summer falls between the months of December to January.

If you want to visit New Zealand to spend time in the sun and explore the beautiful beaches and islands, then summer is the best time to visit. 

However, the only disadvantage of visiting New Zealand in summer is that it’s the best time of year for local holidaymakers (the summer school holidays) and international tourists.

Due to this, prices are significantly higher during this period, and it can sometimes be harder to book accommodation. 

Remember, there is no ozone layer over New Zealand, so the sun is extremely strong. Wear sunscreen whenever you’re outside (even if it’s for five minutes), as you will burn very quickly. And when you’re at the beach, always swim between the flags.

Some of the best places to visit in New Zealand in summer include

  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Bay of Islands
  • The Coromandel Peninsula  
  • Waiheke Island
  • Mount Maunganui 
  • Tekapo 

Related: This is the ultimate two-week New Zealand itinerary.

Visiting New Zealand in Autumn – March to May 

Lake Tekapo Lupins. Photo: Sébastien Goldberg | Unsplash

Average daytime temperatures: 17-21˚C

Autumn in New Zealand is something out of a fairytale. It’s the time of year when the leaves change, with vivid brown, red and golden leaves. 

Autumn is one of the best times to visit New Zealand because the temperatures are still pleasant after summer, the weather is more or less great, and there are fewer tourists, meaning prices have dropped. 

Some of the best places to visit in New Zealand in autumn include

  • Marlborough wine region and Blenheim
  • Hawkes Bay 
  • Lake Tekapo and the wider Mackenzie Country 
  • Auckland (to avoid the crowds of summer) 

Visiting New Zealand in Winter – June to August

Cardrona Ski Field. Photo: Karen Lau | Unsplash

Average daytime temperatures: 12-16˚C

Different parts of New Zealand experience different winters. Though the mountains and mountain regions are cold, once you get away from there, the winters are relatively short and mild. 

There are many days throughout winter when you’ll experience crisp, clear days. However, the North Island experiences a wetter winter than the south. 

If you’re a snow-lover, then the best time to visit New Zealand is in winter, as there are plenty of ski fields to choose from. The ski season runs from June to the first week in October. 

The best places to go skiing and snowboarding in the North Island are the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park, home to the Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas. The best places to go skiing and snowboarding in the South Island are Queenstown, Wanaka and Mount Hutt (as many as many other smaller ski fields). 

Remember, winter is the peak season for skiing and snowboarding, so prices of accommodation and ski field passes will be high. It’s best to book accommodation and purchase your passes in advance to get the best deals.

Some of the best places to visit in New Zealand in winter include

  • Tongariro National Park
  • Queenstown
  • Wanaka
  • Milford Sound/Fiordland
  • Franz Josef Glacier 

Related: This is the ultimate Queenstown to Milford Sound road trip.

Visiting New Zealand in Spring – September to November 

Christchurch Blooms. Photo: Lucy Doran | Unsplash

Average daytime temperatures: 16-19˚C

If you want a bit of everything, spring is the best time to visit New Zealand. 

The beginning of spring is when the ski season is coming to an end, but the Southern Alps and mountains are still covered in snow. For those looking for an adventure holiday, it’s a great time to catch the end of the ski season or to go white water rafting as the mountain snow starts to melt. 

On the other hand, spring is also the time of year when the flowers and leaves start to bloom. This is the best time of year to visit botanic gardens and parks.

The Taranaki Rhododendron and Garden Festival or Hawkes Bay are some of the best places to see the new blooms in the North Island. 

Located in the South Island, Christchurch is known as the Garden City, so there is no better time to see its blooms than in spring. 

Some of the best places to visit in New Zealand in spring include 

  • Wellington (October experiences the best weather) 
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Christchurch 
  • Rotorua
  • Queenstown/Wanaka 

The Best Time to Visit New Zealand

New Zealand Beach. Photo: Rod Long | Unsplash

New Zealand is a beautiful country with dramatic landscapes, friendly locals and plenty of things to do.

The best time to visit New Zealand depends on what type of holiday you want to have. 

If you want to experience the sun and beaches, summer is the best time to visit. If you want to have a ski holiday, then winter is your best option. And if you want to experience a bit of everything with fewer tourists and low prices, the best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring.

No matter what type of holiday you want to have, one thing is for sure, New Zealand is a must-visit destination. 

When will you start planning your trip? 


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