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Best time to travel to New Zealand

Since the Maori named New Zealand 'Land of the Long White Cloud', climate has been of paramount importance to the people of New Zealand — many of whom make their living from the land. New Zealand has mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and many hours of sunshine throughout most of the country. Its climate is dominated by two main geographical features — the mountains and the sea!

New Zealand Seasons

  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • Winter
  • Spring

Four Seasons in One Day

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. January and February are the warmest months of the year, and July is the coldest. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine.

However, the weather can change unexpectedly — as cold fronts or tropical cyclones quickly blow in. Because of this, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you’re going hiking or doing other outdoor activities. At all times of year, we recommend dressing in layers. So bringing a good quality waterproof anorak, with a number of warm thinner layers, which you can add to, or take off; allows you to quickly adjust to sudden changes in climate each day.

You should also be prepared for sunny days and remember to always bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen - you may need them!

Best time to travel to New Zealand on a coach tour or self drive holiday

Prices for self drive holidays and coach tours are always higher over the summer period between October and March. So travelling away from this time and closer to the low season of May to September can often reduce costs. In addition during low season Relaxing Journeys also provide extra winter specials to encourage travel over this period.

Best time to travel to New Zealand for skiing

Snow typically appears during the months of June through October, though cold snaps can occur outside these months. Most snow in New Zealand falls in the mountainous areas, like the Central Plateau in the north, and the Southern Alps in the south. It also falls heavily in inland Canterbury and Otago.

Summer - December, January & February

Summer in New Zealand

New Zealand’s summer months are December to February, bringing high temperatures and sunshine. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild. Summer is an excellent time for walking in the bush and a variety of other outdoor activities. New Zealand’s many gorgeous beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, boating, and water sports during summer.

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Autumn - March, April & May

Autumn in New Zealand

March to May are New Zealand’s autumn months. While temperatures are a little cooler than summer, the weather can be excellent, and it is possible to swim in some places until April. While New Zealand’s native flora is evergreen, there are many introduced deciduous trees. Colourful changing leaves make autumn a scenic delight, especially in regions such as Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay, which are known for their autumn splendour.

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Winter - June, July & August

Winter in New Zealand

New Zealand’s winter months of June to August bring colder weather to much of the country, and more rain to most areas in the North Island. Mountain ranges in both islands become snow-covered, providing beautiful vistas and excellent skiing. While the South Island has cooler winter temperatures, some areas of the island experience little rainfall.

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Spring - September, October & November

Spring in New Zealand

Spring lasts from September to November, and New Zealand’s spring weather can range from cold and frosty to warm and hot. During spring buds, blossoms, and other new growth bursts forth throughout the country and new born lambs frolic in the fields just before dusk.. Both Alexandra in Central Otago and Hastings in Hawke’s Bay celebrate spring with a blossom festival. If you’re into white water rafting, this is the time when melting spring snow makes river water levels excitingly high!

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