Lush rainforests, tinkling waterfalls, pristine beaches and jagged mountain ranges make New Zealand a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors! The far-flung Oceanic nation also has no shortage of fascinating culture, whether that’s intriguing indigenous traditions or contemporary allures in cities like cosmopolitan Auckland.
As of September 2021, New Zealand’s borders, unfortunately, remain closed to visitors. Nevertheless, there is hope that we’ll be able to enjoy adventures there from early 2022 onwards. While the country undeniably has a bounty of things to do to add to your holiday agenda, it can be tricky to know exactly which month is the best to venture there.
To shine a light on the best time to visit New Zealand, we’ve had a chat with our own expert, Matt Doidge. A representative of the Australia Tourist Board, he specializes in the Oceania region and has the inside scoop on where to go and when.
The best time to visit New Zealand
“My favourite time to go is November. The weather is mostly nice, the prices are lower and the freedom to travel is much easier as most people are looking to wait for the Christmas holidays to head out to New Zealand.”
There’s really no bad time to visit this spectacular country! When you choose to go will depend entirely on what you want out of your trip, whether that’s lazy days spent strolling by the coast or adrenaline-filled snow sports down picture-perfect peaks. To give you a better idea, though, it’s worth bearing in mind the following seasonal advice when planning your trip:
Thanks to its location in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand’s spring season falls between September and November. While the start of the season can still be a little brisk, you’ll be able to enjoy some great hikes and the occasional beach day in November.
New blooms bathe the county in a kaleidoscope of color, especially in and around South Island cities like Christchurch and Dunedin. White water rafting is particularly popular at the beginning of the season as the snow melts and creates fast flows down New Zealand’s many rivers.
You’ll find temperatures can climb to above 78°F (26°C) as spring turns into summer, especially the further south you go. The latter half of the season is one of the best times to visit New Zealand for those hoping to enjoy its outstanding natural wonders without having to share them with too many crowds.
New Zealand’s summer season falls between December and February. Balmier temperatures and less rain understandably make it the most popular time to book a trip, especially if you want to experience the local culture at festivals and jaw-dropping coastal scenery.
12+ hours of sunlight a day means there’s ample time for outdoor adventures and to get involved with a whole host of festivals, from the Rugby Sevens tournament in January to the world-famous Marlborough Food and Wine Festival in February.
Nature enthusiasts will love taking boat tours off the South Coast in the summer to spot migrating whales. Consider yourself a bit of a beach bum? New Zealand’s glorious sandy shorelines – from the Coromandel Peninsula and Abel Tasman National Park to the beautiful Bay of Islands – are the ideal spots for some fun in the sun.
For a balance of warm weather yet fewer crowds, early autumn is the best time to visit New Zealand. The country’s breathtaking Fiordland, which includes the magnificent Milford Sound, comes into its own during this season and is a magnet for those hoping to glimpse bottlenose dolphins and fur seals.
March is a fantastic month for those seeking fine, sunny weather and wonderful autumnal foliage. In some of the more remote locations, though, finding availability for accommodation can be challenging. You’ll want to book early to avoid disappointment.
By contrast, May is well within the official off-season and, although a little cold, a wonderful time to visit for crowd-free attractions and to enjoy extraordinary sights such as orca whales gliding through the waters just beyond Wellington’s harbor.
Winter in New Zealand can be a chilly one! All the same, June to October is a great time to visit if you’re keen to ski on the South Island. Stunning views of snow-capped mountains and beautiful, lush green landscapes are what’s in store at locations like Queenstown and the mighty Mount Cook.
If you’re tied down by school holidays, July and August are luckily brilliant months to visit for epic scenery and adventurous activities such as skiing and snowboarding. The North Island tends to have milder weather than the South and you’ll be able to warm up with a trip to Rotorua to soak in its hot springs.
Windy Wellington may live up to its nickname during this period, however, it’s the perfect time to tour the city sights and experience the amazing Maori New Year celebrations which typically take place towards the end of June.
Our tip: Verdant New Zealand is susceptible to rain showers throughout the year, so you’ll want to pack a good raincoat regardless of the season!
As one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and with pent-up demand, it’s important to get in early for 2022. Speak to us about the best time to visit New Zealand, whatever your interests are!