Because New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, its summers are the opposite of the northern hemisphere – from December to February.
Summers are warm, but for a small country, the weather varies considerably from one region to another. The pleasant humidity of the subtropical rainforests in the north is very different from the alpine conditions of the Southern Alps in the south, for example.
These microclimates are caused by New Zealand’s latitude, rugged topography – i.e., mountains that begin at sea level, and the roaring forties (westerly winds) that sweep through this part of the Pacific. Factors that give New Zealand’s its unique character. There aren’t many places where you’ll find a famous glacier within ten kilometres of a rainforest retreat. Or find the highest and lowest temperatures on record happened at the same location.
Positioned halfway between the equator and the South Pole, New Zealand occupies a pleasing middle ground, temperature wise. In summer, afternoon temperatures typically range from 18°C and 24°C, but temperatures exceeding 30°C are common for low elevation inland areas and the north of the country.
New Zealand gets about 2,000 hours of the good stuff annually. That’s 83 days a year and roughly the global average. The sunniest spots are Nelson and Marlborough, which have more than 2,300 hours per year.
For most of the country, rainfall is spread evenly throughout the year so you can expect a few showers over summer.
But if you’re heading to the West Coast, it is safe to stay you’ll experience more than the odd shower. Here, it rains about half the time and there’s a lot of it – roughly 7m a year. Inconvenient for visitors but advantageous for the spectacular rainforests that live here.
In this small island nation, you are never far from the sea – or a sea breeze. If you visit Wellington the chances are you’ll experience gale-force winds at some point. Here, the wind is gale force or stronger here for about 200 days of the year.