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

The best winter activities

New Zealand in winter is quieter, with the exception of top ski destinations which become a hive of activity. If you're wondering what you can do in winter, check out these top things to do. 

Skiing

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.

Hiking

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

Note that the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is covered in snow during winter and is dangerous to attempt unless you are experienced and well-equipped. If you want to tackle this track in winter, the best option is to hire a mountaineering guide.  

In Auckland, temperatures are mild and sunny days are common. It’s the perfect time of year to hike up Rangitoto – chances are you’ll have the dormant volcano all to yourself.

Relax in natural hot pools

New Zealand is home to some impressive, naturally heated hot pools. There’s nothing like soaking weary bodies at the end of a long day skiing or exploring.

Visit the Hawke's Bay

In the Hawke’s Bay, the cooler months are a time for delicious citrus fruits and hearty vegetables. Head to the Havelock North farmer’s market to make the most of locally grown, fresh produce.

Celebrate Matariki

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

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

In the North Island, Ruapehu is the top skiing destination, providing both thrilling slopes and epic views of Tongariro National Park. 

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

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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