Summer is the most popular time to visit New Zealand. Over December, January and February, the number of visitors increases, as people arrive from overseas to travel while the weather is warm. Summer holidays mean more Kiwis are travelling New Zealand too, making the most of the sunshine and Christmas break.
If you would prefer to enjoy sunny days, but with fewer crowds, the best time to go to New Zealand is in autumn. From March to May the weather is still reasonably warm – particularly in the north – but the crowds have thinned out. As autumn is also the shoulder season, you can enjoy better rates on accommodation and activities.
Winter in New Zealand is the best time to visit if you’re enthusiastic about snow sports. With a light dusting of snow, Queenstown and the Central Plateau are transformed into winter wonderlands. If you want to ski or snowboard your way down the slopes of the Southern Alps, the best month to visit New Zealand is either July or August.
Spring arrives in September and lasts until November. Although there is still a high chance of rainfall around this time of year, the weather starts to warm up – it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking. Spring is also when calves, lambs and daffodils pop up in New Zealand’s green fields, so it’s an incredibly picturesque time. Cool nights and warm days are common, which makes for pleasant travel weather.
Choose a region below for relevant climate information
Select a region below for current local weather
What is the weather like in New Zealand?
Weather conditions in New Zealand can change quickly - no matter when you visit, you should be prepared for anything!
Most places in New Zealand receive over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year – around 83 sunny days. The sunniest areas, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough, receive over 2,350 hours of sunshine. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months daylight can last up until 9.30pm.
New Zealand experiences relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries, and less ozone, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong. The sunlight here can quickly burn skin from September to April, especially between 10am and 4pm, even on cloudy days. Be 'SunSmart' by using these three simple steps when you go outdoors:
Stay in the shade whenever possible.
Wear a shirt, hat and sunglasses.
Use SPF 30+ sunscreen. Reapply every two hours.
New Zealand's average rainfall is high and evenly spread throughout the year. Over the northern and central areas of New Zealand more rain falls in winter than in summer, whereas for much of the southern part of New Zealand, winter is the season of least rainfall.
The mountain ranges running along the spine of the South Island divide the country into diverse climate regions. The West Coast of the South Island is the wettest area of New Zealand, while the Central Otago, on the eastern side of the Southern Alps, is the driest.
As well as producing areas of stunning native forest, the high rainfall makes New Zealand an ideal place for farming and horticulture.
Snow typically appears during the months of June through to October, though cold snaps can occur outside these months. Most snow in New Zealand falls in the mountainous areas, like the Central Plateau in the north, and the Southern Alps in the south. It also falls heavily in inland Canterbury and Otago. While the coastal areas of the North Island may experience some frost overnight in winter, it very rarely snows there.