Are you looking for New Zealand visa?

Time in New Zealand: Full guide to the New Zealand weather

by Elena Escudero | October 20, 2022
snowed mountains and glacier in New Zealand

New Zealand is an outdoor lover’s paradise. It is a land of lakes, roaring rivers and snow-covered peaks. Its native Māori culture is fascinating and captivating. There is a lot of things to do in New Zealand and you will not forget the experience of visiting New Zealand. 

In this article you will find out all about the climate in New Zealand and when it is the best time to visit certain areas. We have also compiled some festivals and events you can check out during your trip. 

General New Zealand Weather

The weather in New Zealand can vary greatly depending on which area of the country you go to. In the north of the country, the climate is subtropical and in the south the weather tends to be a lot colder. In mountainous areas there are extremely cold temperatures and snow. 

As New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, January and February are the warmest months of the year, and July is the coldest.

New Zealand is known in Māori as the “The Land of the Long White Cloud” and there is good reason for this name as the country experiences high levels of rainfall. Annually they can be of 640mm and 1500mm. 

New Zealand can also experience sudden changes in weather and temperature, so if you are going to do outdoor activities make sure you are always well equipped and prepared. 

When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

The best time to go to New Zealand depends on the season and the region you visit. In the summer, which is in December to February, New Zealand experiences a rise in temperatures which on average are around 20 - 25˚C (68 - 77˚F) and can get hotter in the South. If you visit New Zealand during the summer, you can do lots of outdoor activities like going to any of the amazing beaches to swim, surf or do other water sports. 

Queenstown, in the South Island, is the place to go for adventure sports, so check it out if you visit it in summer. You can explore lakes and rivers, and in winter go snowboarding and skiing. 

Summer is a busy time in New Zealand and it can get crowded in some areas. If you are travelling during this time, bear in mind that prices might be higher than usual as it is the high season. 

Autumn is a good time in New Zealand because from March to May the weather is still fairly warm, especially in the north of the country. The advantage of travelling in autumn is that attractions in New Zealand can be less crowded and rates will be cheaper. 

If you travel in Autumn, Christchurch could be a good destination for you as the “Garden City” will be full of trees with changing colors and falling leaves. You could visit the Christchurch Botanic Garden which is beautiful during this time. 

Winter in New Zealand is a great time to travel if you are into winter sports like snowboarding or skiing. You can do this in Tūroa, one of New Zealand's largest ski areas. Milford Sound is also a stunning place to visit during the winter as you can go on a cruise to see the fjord and see one of the world’s longest waterfalls. 

Time in New Zealand to visit Lake Wakatipu in South Island of New Zealand

The temperature during New Zealand’s winter is around 12 – 16°C (53 – 61°F), but it can get colder in the south island. 

Spring is a beautiful time in New Zealand as the countryside full of bloomed flowers, although it's still too cold in the north island to go swimming. 

Spring starts in September and lasts until November, with temperatures around 19°C in the north and around 16°C in the south. The weather can be quite mixed during this season, with sun and rain. 

New Zealand weather by month

Weather in New Zealand in January

The weather in New Zealand in January is hot since it is summer. Overall, it is a pleasant time to visit. In the North Island, in places like Auckland and Northland there are Warm temperatures with averages ranging from 20°C to 25°C. In the South Island, in places like Christchurch and Canterbury there are also warm temperatures averaging around 20°C. You can expect some sunny days, but also some showers. 

New Zealand in January is the best time to visit New Zealand if you want to explore the outdoors, go Bungee jumping, skydiving or white-water rafting and visit vineyards.

New Zealand weather in March

In March, New Zealand experiences the transition from summer to autumn, offering pleasant weather and beautiful landscapes with fall foliage. In Wellington in the North Island you can expect temperatures between 14°C to 19°C, but remember to bring a light jacket or layers for the occasional winds and rain.

In Queenstown and Central Otago, in the South Island, temperatures range between 8°C to 19°C.

Overall, March is the best time to go to New Zealand to witness the fall foliage and enjoy stunning landscapes. It is also the best time to visit New Zealand if you want to enjoy a milder weather with fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months. 

March is the time in New Zealand to hike and see wildlife like birds and marine life around the coast.

Weather in New Zealand in December

The weather in New Zealand in December showcases the start of summer. The weather is generally pleasant and warm across most regions. For example, in the North Island you can find temperatures that range from 14º to 24º. On the South Island, you can find temperatures around 20º.

While the weather is generally warm and sunny, be prepared for occasional showers, especially in the South Island's West Coast and Fiordland regions.

December is the time in New Zealand to enjoy swimming and water sports and coastal areas are attractive for beach activities. You can also attend Christmas and local events that will make any tourist fall in love with New Zealand.

Enjoy New Zealand weather in their fields

Weather in New Zealand in Summer: December to February

Summer in New Zealand comprises December, January and February. During those months, you can expect:

  • The North Island experiences warm temperatures ranging from 20º to 30º Celsius. It's a popular time for outdoor activities and beach visits.
  • The South Island is a bit cooler than the North Island with temperatures from 18º to 25º. The weather can be changeable due to the mountainous terrain.

Weather in New Zealand in Fall: March to May

During March, April and May, which is autumn in New Zealand, you can expect a cooler weather as the country transitions from summer to winter.

  • Autumn temperatures in the North Island are relatively mild and comfortable with temperatures that range from 17º to 22º. 
  • The South Island is characterized by cooler temperatures and beautiful foliage during Fall. Average highs range from 12º to 18º degrees Celsius. The mountainous regions might experience cooler conditions and the first snowfalls of the upcoming winter.

Weather in New Zealand in Winter: June to August

Winter in New Zealand comprises June, July and August. The weather will be:

  • Winter in the North Island tends to be milder compared to the South Island. Average highs range from around 12º to 16º degrees Celsius. Snowfall is rare in most areas.
  • In the South Island, winter tends to be cooler and can bring more varied weather conditions. Temperatures go from 9º to 13º degrees Celsius. Some parts, especially mountainous regions, experience snowfall.

Weather in New Zealand in Spring: September to November

In September, October and November, Spring is blossoming in New Zealand and you can expect: 

  • In the North Island, you will find milder temperatures than in winter, but not as warm as summer. Temperatures range from 15º to 20º degrees. 
  • In the South Island, spring can be quite varied. Average highs range from 12º to 18º degrees. While there are more daylight hours, the weather can still be changeable, especially in mountainous areas.

Time in New Zealand Lake Tekapo in New Zealand

Best festivals and events

Here are some of the events and festivals you can go to when you travel to New Zealand

Womad Festival

The Womad festival, which was founded in the 1980s in the UK, is now celebrated in New Zealand. This festival, which is a Music, Arts and Dance event, brings artists from around the world to celebrate diversity.The dates for the festival next year are March 17-19, 2023 and it will take part in New Plymouth, Taranaki. 

LUMA Southern Light Project

LUMA is an arts, performance and sensory event designed to bring people together. It is an event that displays light sculptures alongside drama performances in Queenstown. This festival takes place in the Queenstown Gardens during the first weekend of June. 


Matariki is the start of the Māori New Year which is usually in June. This festival is for families to get together and remember their ancestors and celebrate their lives in the present. The festival is usually celebrated by flying kites and displaying fireworks. To mark this festival, New Zealand has a public holiday. 

The New Zealand Festival

This is a festival to celebrate the arts in Aotearoa, which is New Zealand's official Māori name. It features music, arts and theater. The festival is held in Wellington and it runs for three weeks from February to March. 

What to pack and tips

Here are some New Zealand tips to have in mind when traveling to New Zealand:

  • If you're going hiking in New Zealand make sure you are well equipped with good waterproof clothes and footwear
  • Don't bother bringing lots of cash to New Zealand, there are plenty of ATMs everywhere around the country. If you withdraw what you need you might avoid losing your cash or getting pickpocketed. 
  • New Zealand is an outdoor paradise, so you won't need too many fancy clothes, jewelry or high heels. Keep it simple and enjoy nature!