Why do so many travellers to New Zealand ignore how important it is to get the timing right?  When shall I visit New Zealand? I believe this questions should be given greater priority, even before you begin your travel planning. So, when is the best time to visit New Zealand anyway? This blog is going to give you some very important seasonal information on New Zealand to help you, the traveller, to decide what is the best time to visit New Zealand!

Florence Hill Lockout - when is the best time to visit new zealand

Best time of the Year to visit New Zealand – North & South Island

What a lot of travellers don’t know that the northern top of the North Island has subtropical weather during the summer season. Therefore the winter in the north is considered to be quite mild.  In fact, that is why the North Island is often referred to as “the winterless North”. Temperatures in New Zealand tend to decrease the further you travel south. Bearing in mind that the South Island has inland alpine areas, it can be as cold as -10°C (14°F). But the good news, is that most of New Zealand lies close to the coast, making the temperatures milder – much like the USA or Canada.

Clothing for travel through New Zealand

Be aware temperatures and rainfall in New Zealand differs a lot for each region!!!

The months of January through to March, are considered the warmest times. July is the coldest month. But on the other hand, if you travel New Zealand between May and June – the Autumn months – it is absolute magic! Especially if travellers are interested in photography and the outdoor there there is no better time to visit New Zealand than March to May. Always remember: New Zealand weather conditions are very changable. Especially during Spring and Summer. Often we are talking about ‘4 Seasons in 1 Day’.

What Travel Season to visit New Zealand is best?

Spring in New Zealand (Sept – Nov): best time for sightseeing travel

Michael with Rhododendron tree

The best time for Rhododendron trees is early spring in New Zealand.

in New Zealand sometimes has an identity crisis. You will need to be prepared for all types of weather.  For example you might get cold, frosty, clear days and then sunny hot T-shirt weather.  Therefore packing your jeans is a good idea.  Layers of clothing also work well on your top half, as they can be added or removed. A warm jacket is always a must. So what is so great about Spring? Well, it is a perfect time to see the Spring blossoms, lush green paddocks and most importantly, cute little baby lambs!

Check out some Sample Travel Itineraries for the spring and summer season.

Summer in New Zealand (Dec – March): best time for hiking + outdoors

A New Zealand Summer is moderately warm, with temperatures hovering around 20-30 degrees celsius (68-86 Fahrenheit). In most places you’ll be wearing shorts or a t-shirt during the day. For nighttime you will probably want to add a light jersey (sweater). This is the busiest travel season in New Zealand, (20 Dec – 10 Jan). Be warned, facilities are heavily booked over Christmas with family travellers and Kiwi kids enjoying their school holidays.

Michael overlooking sunny Nelson from Outlook

Sunny Nelson and Abel Tasman is a great destination at any season in NZ.

Autumn in New Zealand (April – May): best time for photography

Autumn temperatures are cooler than summer, but personally, I think it’s the best time to visit New Zealand! The weather is generally more settled and pretty darn fabulous! Everywhere the rich gold and reds show their face. When packing for your holiday, take clothes such as light pants or shorts, t-shirts and a couple of long-sleeved tops. It ‘s cooler at night so be prepared with a pure wool sweater. Now’s your chance to buy the Merino wool clothing New Zealand is famous for. With calmer days and less rain, it can be a great time for all those adventurous activities you’ve planned.

autumn colours in cromwell

Famously stunning Autumn Colours are Cromwell in Central Otago.

Check out some Sample Travel Itineraries for the autumn and winter season.

Winter in New Zealand (Jun- Aug): best time for winter sports

Winter in New Zealand brings cold weather to much of the country. If you’re heading off to the mountain areas, you’ll definitely need warm clothing. Unless you intend to go skiing, winter is not the time to work on your tan. But some winter months are ideal for tramping, especially when you have those sunny crisp clear days.

Hiking or Day walking throughout the year at any season

Pam with our guide at Rob Roy Valley Day Hike.

Best time to visit New Zealand and Australia

Heading for New Zealand and Australia? Then the best month to travel is with between end of March to May or September to November. The overall weather and climate condition can be very different between those countries. The best time for most places to visit in Australia is between April and October. It’s Australia’s winter season. The summer season (November until March)  in Australia is either very hot in the Outback. Or, very wet in the northern regions. The southern coastline has similar weather pattens as New Zealand. But, it’s much warmer (with the exception of Tasmania). View some Australia and New Zealand sample itineraries.

australia and new zealand honeymoon package in 16 days

Travelling Australia and New Zealand at the right month is important.

Touring New Zealand throughout the year

Most of the wildlife tours are still operating through the winter months – although you will have to make sure you have good outdoor clothing for warmth. I promise you it will be worth your while.

Discover the National Parks in the Off-season

Escape the summer crowds and travel New Zealand off-season. We love the autumn month in April and May. Often the weather is sunny and without much wind and rain.  Perfect for outdoor activities such as Abel Tasman Eco Tours.

Top 10 Family Destinations New Zealand

A trip into the Abel Tasman National Park at any time of the year.

Best time to visit Vineyards in March and April

And when it comes to vineyard tours, of course the seasons will dictate your options.  Some of the smaller vineyards do close during winter, while others remain open for the entire year.  It largely depends on what region you are visiting.  It may be that your friends who have already visited New Zealand, have told you what they think is the best time to visit.  But do bear in mind that those friends may have travelled in a totally different season to what you are intending.  However whatever season you choose to visit, you are always able to to guided biking tours through the vineyards.

Rippon Vineyard on Lake Wanaka

Rippon Vineyard on Lake Wanaka

Stunning visits to New Zealand high country in autumn

Even if the vines are bare, the scenery is magnificent and there is no better way to experience this beautiful land. Guided land tours often have special vehicles that allow them access cross country in any weather.

Autumn is the best time for New Zealand high country

Mt Potts Road Edoras Hasslefree tour

To be fair, perhaps in winter you are more limited to choice, especially when it comes to accommodation, but remember this: The Autumn months especially are far less populated with tourists! You will still be able to stay in special places that you may have all to yourself. So depending your interest, you can still have a pretty fabulous adventure in New Zealand, no matter what the season.

Some more helpful travel planning blogs for New Zealand:

Happy travelling in the best season for you!

2 responses to “When is the best time to visit New Zealand?”

  1. Jan says:

    This is fantastic – especially love the great photos – one in particular Pam! LOL

    • GuestNZ says:

      Thanks Jan, that particular photo you refer to was not without it’s challenges – trying to stay on my front side without slipping on my backside, being just one of them.

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