New Zealand’s mountains come alive with skiers and snowboarders in winter, and the crisp days are perfect for walking, cycling and soaking in hot pools.

Find out what it's like to travel New Zealand in winter. 

What is the weather like in winter? 

While New Zealand's winter months do bring cooler weather and rain to parts of the country, many locations only experience a mild winter.

In the North Island, average temperatures range from 10-16 degrees Celsius (°C). Northland is sometimes called the "winterless north" because of the mild temperatures and frequent sunny days.

While the North Island is warmer in winter, it is also wetter, with high average rainfall in July and August. 

The geography of the South Island means winters are much colder and experience snowy conditions. Frosts and heavy snowfall are common, with temperatures ranging from 7-12°C in most places. The coldest areas of New Zealand in winter are Central Otago and the Mackenzie basin, where temperatures frequently fall below zero. 

The West Coast of the South Island is the wettest part of the country and experiences heavy rainfall in winter. 

New Zealand's winter months are June, July and August. 

Weather in June

June sees the shortest day of the year (21 June) and chilly weather around the country. 

New Zealand celebrates the Queen's Birthday on the first Monday in June. This long weekend is a popular time to travel for Kiwis, as it's the last public holiday before Labour Weekend in October. 

Cosy bach weekends are popular over this weekend in winter destinations such as Rotorua or Christchurch. 

The rest of the month is quiet, until the ski fields open - usually around mid-June. 

In Auckland, the average high temperature is 15°C and the average low is 8°C

In Queenstown, the average high temperature is 8°C and the average low is 0°C

Weather in July

July is the coldest month of the year in New Zealand. 

In July the ski season is in full swing, so this is a fantastic time to visit Queenstown, Christchurch and Ruapehu. Even if you're not a skier, these regions are stunning under a dusting of snow. 

School holidays usually fall in July, so this a popular time for local families to travel. 

In Auckland, the average high temperature is 14°C and the average low is 7°C. This is also the wettest month of the year, with an average of 15 days of rain. Showers are common, so you might have sunshine one minute and a downpour the next. 

In Queenstown, the average high temperature is 8°C and the average low is -1°C. As a ski hub, you'll find the towns bars and restaurants packed in the evenings though, so there are plenty of places to warm up and enjoy an apres-ski. 

Weather in August

As the last month of winter, August is still cold but slowly warming up for spring. You can expect rainy, blustery days in the North Island and snow in the South Island. 

There are no school or public holidays in August, so it is a quiet time to travel around the country. The ski fields are particularly quiet mid-week, so this is a great time to hit the slopes. 

In Auckland, the average high temperature is 15°C and the average low is 8°C

In Queenstown, the average high temperature is 10°C and the average low is 0°C

Find the best things to do in winter

From stargazing to hot tubs to cosy chateaus and moody landscapes, winter brings plenty of things to do in New Zealand. 

The ski areas are in full swing, and the mountains of the Central Plateau, Canterbury and Central Otago are blanketed with fresh snow. Snow enthusiasts should make a point of trying several different ski fields in Queenstown and Wanaka, there are four world-class ski fields within an hour and a half of each other. For a thrill, try heli-skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing or sledging.

Many popular hiking tracks are ideal in winter. The majority of tracks in the North Island are free from snow all year round, so you can still explore the great outdoors. 

The vines are bare but wineries are bursting with the labours of an Autumn vintage. Try the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, from Hawkes Bay in the North Island to Marlborough in the South, to make the most of a cellar door experience. And the renowned Central Otago wine region is a stone’s throw from ski hubs Queenstown and Lake Wanaka.

Between June and July, the Matariki festival is held throughout New Zealand. Matariki has always been an important time in the Māori calendar – strongly connected to the seasons, Matariki is a celebration of the upcoming year. 

Winter destinations

North Island

Winter is a great time to explore natural hot pools around the North Island. Rotorua and Taupō both have a range of natural hot springs where you can warm up and relax.

For those looking to hit the slopes this winter, visit North Island's top skiing destination, Ruapehu, showcasing both thrilling slopes and epic views of Tongariro National Park

Or if you're like to get away from the snow, head up north to the winterless North and enjoy the treasures of this subtropical wonderland with its milder climate. The Hawke's Bay region is also worth a visit during winter with its delicious citrus fruits and hearty vegetables are in season!

South Island

Christchurch and Queenstown come alive during the winter season, as both are close to world-class ski fields. Head to these cities to enjoy snow sports with a festive apres-ski afterwards. 

Explore other-worldly scenery down the wild, West Coast or marvel at the majestic fiords in Fiordland. Ride one of the world's greatest train journeys on the TranzApline train(opens in new window) and cross through the Southern Alps.

Or if you're after milder weather, head north to the Nelson Tasman region and ride the Great Taste Trail or walk the Abel Tasman Track.

Travel tips for winter

Make the most of your winter holiday with these handy tips. 

New Zealand is a year-round travel destination

Most attractions, activities and locations are open all year in New Zealand. If you’re travelling during the cooler months, you don’t need to book ahead.

You can still enjoy many popular outdoor attractions in winter, with the added bonus of smaller crowds. 

Winter is the best time for skiing

A world-class ski destination, New Zealand’s ski fields will be covered in a thick blanket of powdery snow from June to September. Head to Ruapehu, Canterbury, Queenstown or Lake Wanaka for thrilling snow sport action, but be sure to book accommodation, ski passes and gear hire in advance.

Drive safely

In winter road conditions can be dangerous, particularly in the South Island where you might come across snow and black ice. If you're planning a winter road trip or driving up to the ski slopes, make sure you're familiar with our winter driving tips. 

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