Opposite to that of the northern hemisphere, New Zealand’s balmy summer season runs from December to February.

During summer, New Zealand celebrates. The majority of Kiwis take their annual break over the Christmas period and flock to scenic beaches or lakes.

Summer weather in New Zealand

With average high temperatures ranging from 21 degrees Celsius (°C) to 25°C, summer in New Zealand is hot without being humid. Sunshine hours are high, and rain is not overly common in most places.

New Zealand's official summer months are December, January and February. 

Weather in December

Although technically summer, December can still have spring-like weather in the North Island, with some cooler and rainy days. 

Long daylight hours (the longest day of the year is on December 21) makes this month a great time to enjoy sunny evenings and Christmas festivities. Summer for Kiwis is usually a time of indulgence and celebration, with December being the peak time for family gatherings. 

In Auckland, the average high temperature is 22°C and the average low is 15°C

In Queenstown, the average high temperature is 20°C and the average low is 8°C

Weather in January

January is peak summer in New Zealand, and with school holidays in full swing it's also the busiest time of the year to travel. This is the time when barbeques are going strong and footwear is optional. 

There are only six days of rain on average, so January is a great time to make the most of the sunshine. 

In Auckland, the average high temperature is 24 degrees Celsius and the average low is 16 degrees celsius. In places such as Northland and Napier, temperatures often get close to 30°C. The hottest temperatures in the country are found in the South Island, with the Christchurch region sometimes getting close to 40°C. 

Queenstown is a bit cooler though, with the average high temperature in January 22°C and the average low 9°C

Weather in February

February is one of the hottest months of the year in New Zealand, along with January. There are plenty of summer festivals and events during this month, such as Splore, that make the most of long days and balmy evenings.

Schools start again in February, so although still peak season it's not quite as busy as January. 

In Auckland, the average high temperature is 24°C and the average low is 16°C

In Queenstown, the average high temperature is 22°C and the average low is 9°C

Tryphena Harbour , New Zealand

The best things to do in summer

Whether you decide to go on a three-week holiday or simply a weekend getaway, you'll find plenty of things to do in summer. 

Spot pohutukawa

During this time of year, our native pohutukawa tree blooms a vibrant red, justifying its name as New Zealand’s ‘Christmas Tree’. Lining coastlines, they are an emblem of the warm weather and the relaxed atmosphere of summer. 

If you take a summer road trip, you're guaranteed to see pohutukawa in full bloom. 

Embrace the island life

Being an island nation, you’re never far from the sea in New Zealand. Make the most of long, hot summer days with aquatic activities such as kayaking, snorkelling, sailing or swimming.

It’s also a great time of year to learn to surf. Places like Raglan, Taranaki and Mount Maunganui are surfing meccas.

Go cycling or mountain biking

Rotorua’s world-famous mountain biking trails, dotted with enormous redwood trees, are dappled with shade – the perfect way to stay cool!

Around the country, cycle trails give you the chance to see some of the best scenery in the country. 

Go on a glacier hike

Heli hiking on ancient Franz Josef Glacier is a great activity for the hotter months when there are clear skies and little rain.

The Coromandel
Hahei, The Coromandel

Top summer destinations

The Coromandel is a classic summer destination, only two hours drive from Auckland. 

Head to Northland to find secluded beaches away from the crowds, or road trip around Tairawhiti on the east coast to see sunrise from the lighthouse positioned on the easternmost point of the country.

Abel Tasman National Park is another popular place to visit in summer. The turquoise coves and golden beaches are best enjoyed in the sunshine. 

Travel tips for summer

Get the most out of your summer holiday with these great tips. 

Make reservations in advance

Being high season, booking in advance for accommodation, tours and transport is highly recommended. Public holidays, such as Christmas, Waitangi Day and regional anniversary days, are particularly busy.

Don’t forget the sunscreen

New Zealand’s sun can be harsher than in other parts of the world. If you’re outside exploring, wearing sunscreen with a high SPF(opens in new window) is highly recommended to avoid sunburn.

Stay safe in the water

You'll probably spend a lot of time at the beach or at swimming holes over summer. Stay safe and make sure you pay attention to the advice of local lifeguards and watch out for rips or other hazards. 

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