Marked by long lazy days and mild clear nights, New Zealand’s summer weather is settled and calm. Boasting pristine beaches, glassy lakes and rugged mountain vistas this little island nation is the ultimate summer holiday destination.
Summer in New Zealand falls opposite to the Northern hemisphere so our sunny months are spread across December, January and February. Although this is the ‘official’ summer season, the warmer weather tends to spill into November and March as well.
Temperatures don’t differ much between the islands however the nights are colder in the south and (interestingly) the days can be a fraction warmer. The mercury generally sits between 8 degrees celsius (46 fahrenheit) at night and 33 degrees celsius (90 fahrenheit) in the day.
December is the most crowded month as kiwis tend to take their summer holidays then - but historically, it’s also the wettest. Many businesses also shut down for one to two weeks over the Christmas and New Year period which can have unexpected complications when it comes to getting around.
January is the most popular time for tourists to visit as the weather's still consistently hot and the majority of locals have returned to work. The central summer hotspots will be crowded though - so it pays to book well in advance if this is time you'll going to be here.
The driest summer month is February but with this comes a greater variation of temperature during the daylight hours. However, if you can handle a little seasonal uncertainty - Feb is a wonderful time to explore the most popular tourist locations as there is significantly less people.
Almost anywhere in New Zealand has great summer vacation potential (admittedly we're a little biased) but in our opinion, these places should be top of your list.
- The Coromandel. Known for its iconic beaches including Hot Water beach and Cathedral Cove, the Coromandel is located on a jagged peninsula to the east of Auckland City. With miles of unspoilt shores and an interior cloaked in native rainforest it exudes a relaxed kiwi charm and is a popular vacation choice.
- Bay of Islands. Located in the ‘winterless North,’ New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is renowned for its untouched beaches, idyllic climate and abundant marine life. With over 140 subtropical atolls this seaside destination ticks all the boxes.
- Waiheke Island. A foodie’s paradise, Waiheke Island is just a 35 minute ferry ride from central Auckland, and boasts vineyards, olive groves and while sandy beaches. The island is also known for it's gourmet cafes, restaurants and artisan bakers as well as several craft boutiques and art galleries.
- Abel Tasman. At the top of the south, Abel Tasman is home to a globally renowned coastal track, interesting granite formations, secluded bays and towering cliffs. A mix of both civilisation and wilderness, you can choose to stay in luxury lodges, or camp out beneath the stars.
- Golden Bay. Tucked into the northwest corner of the South Island and surrounded by steep mountains, Golden Bay is one of New Zealand's most well known stretches of sand. Bush clad valleys compete with alpine plains and tranquil rivers share close proximity with the sea making this an idyllic nature getaway.
- Gisborne. The first place in the world to see the sunrise, Gisborne has an extensive wine trail, beautiful beaches and a strong Maori culture. It is also a place of historical interest as it's home to the the site where Captain Cook first discovered New Zealand - Kaiti Beach.
- Hawkes Bay. With is Mediterranean climate and art deco style, Hawke's Bay is a popular place to visit at any time of the year - but particularly so in the summer. As the nation's first wine making region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must, along with a tractor ride to view the largest mainland gannet colony in the world, located at Cape Kidnappers.
- Mount Maunganui. Colloquially known as ‘The Mount,’ Mount Maunganui lies at the southern end of the Tauranga Harbour on a small peninsula. Known for its seemingly infinite shoreline, ‘The Mount’ is a relaxed beachside town with a quirky cafe culture and prominent wholefood movement.
Whenever you plan to come, New Zealand’s summer weather offers limitless possibilities for exploring. And with every month better than the last there's really no bad time to come. See you there!