Best Time To Visit New Zealand

Milford Hiking Adventure 'Manuka'

So, what is the best time of the year to visit New Zealand?

Thinking of joining us here in New Zealand for an adventure vacation? Well, the next decision you'll need to make is when to come. New Zealand is a mountainous island nation sitting isolated in the Southwest Pacific, and so the weather tends to be pretty unpredictable. That said, it means that you can come at any time of year and still get glorious days! Here at the bottom of the world (or top, depending on how you look at it!) our seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere’s and most people who visit New Zealand choose to come during our summer season, which is December through February.

Here's a handy infographic that we've created, that displays a few of the highlights through the calendar year! 

New Zealand Summer - Warm and bustling

Months: December, January, February
North Island weather: 20-24⁰C (68-75⁰F), 60-100mm of rainfall per month
South Island weather: 19-23⁰C (66-73⁰F), 35-60mm of rainfall per month
Hiking Conditions: Long, warm days. This is definitely the most popular time to hike in New Zealand!

New Zealand truly does come into its own in the summer, as an outdoor lover's paradise. Particularly between the months of December to February you'll see people at the beach, hiking in the forest or biking on our cycling trails. It's a popular time of year for getting outdoors in nature, and experiencing life at a slower pace.

December - The start of summer, warm weather and a buzz in the air leading up to the holidays. The days are reaching their longest hours, making for plenty of time to go adventuring. Always a fantastic month to visit New Zealand.

January - Warmest month, heaps going on and the festive spirit carries on from Christmas! There are lots of summer events at this time of year, with races of all shapes and sizes most weekends, as well as festivals and concerts. 

February - Mid-summer and another fabulous and very popular month to visit New Zealand. Races and triathlons are held throughout the country each weekend, to take part in or just watch! Slap on the sunscreen and wear a hat.

 


New Zealand Autumn/Fall - Perfect for Hiking

Months: March, April, May
North Island weather: 17-22⁰C (62-71⁰F), 90-130mm of rainfall per month
South Island weather: 13-19⁰C (55-66⁰F), 60-100mm of rainfall per month
Hiking Conditions: Cooler, less crowds on the trails, and very consistent weather. Incredible photography too!

If you want to escape the busiest season on the trails, then fall months are great for hiking. It's a little cooler, a little quieter, but so beautiful as the leaves on the trees change colour and the first dustings of snow arrive on the hills. As long as you've got a few layers of clothing, you're in for a treat because you will have most of the hiking trails to yourself.

March - Late-summer, warm days, summer breezes and moderate daylight hours to make the most of being outdoors. It's still common to get a few hot days in March, so covering up from the sun is still important! 

April - Start of Fall/Autumn - stunning colours as the leaves change colour on the trees. Crisp, clear days and there may be a bite in the air some days so you'll need an extra layer or two, but all in all, it's a beautiful month and a great time to be here.

May - Early-winter, temperature dropping, but still some beautiful days.

 


New Zealand Winter

Months: June, July, August
North Island weather: 11-15⁰C (51-59⁰F), 120-150mm of rainfall per month
South Island weather: 7-12⁰C (44-53⁰F), 70-130mm of rainfall per month
Hiking Conditions: Cool, crisp mornings with a crunch under foot. Loads of blue skies, and you'll be hiking in a tee by lunch time.

Some people don't realise how awesome New Zealand is in the winter! If you're not a skier, then it's an amazing time to come winter hiking in New Zealand – the trails are quiet and the mountains all around are snow-capped. There’s even a few hot pools that you can trek to amongst the mountains. There are a number of ski areas throughout the country, but being based in Queenstown we spend most of our time at Cardrona, Treble Cone, the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Ohau and Mount Hutt.

June - Officially the start of winter and the beginning of the wait for the first snow and the ski fields to open. It's also time for Queenstown Winter Festival, a great event held annually with plenty of activities for the whole family. 

July - Winter - ski fields open and it's all go on the mountain! Powder days and being first on the slope for the early morning runs are what it's all about. At the same time, the hiking trails are even more peaceful and serene than normal, so it's an amazing time of year to hike the backcountry valley trails.

August - Winter still and probably one of the best months for snow sports.

New Zealand Spring

Months: September, October, November
North Island weather: 16-20⁰C (60-68⁰F), 90-120mm of rainfall per month
South Island weather: 13-19⁰C (55-66⁰F), 60-100mm of rainfall per month
Hiking Conditions: Warmer days, quiet trails, snow-capped mountains on a background of blue skies. Most New Zealander's favourite time of the year to get out hiking in the backcountry.

The clocks spring forward, the sun warms up and the days are longer. We all love spring! As much as we can't get enough of winter sports, we're never too sorry when the springtime sun makes an appearance. With lambs bouncing around the fields, daffodils and fruit trees blooming and the longer daylight hours, there's a definite shift in mood.

Spring is an excellent time to visit New Zealand and while November tends to be fairly quiet on the tourist front, it's certainly not a bad time to travel here. Being an adventure tour company, our season really cranks up in early November, so our guides are fresh and excited to be back on the road - we have heaps of trip dates scheduled throughout the season too.

September - Late-winter, snow sports usually still going strong, with the first blossoms starting to appear.

October - A change is in the air as spring comes around! There are warmer days and longer daylight hours, and everyone shakes off the winter cold.

November - Mid-spring, beautiful days and plenty of lambs jumping in the lush green fields. A little bit windy on occasion, but not too many tourists around.

 

Feeling a bit more ready to plan your trip? Have a look at our popular New Zealand trips below, and find your perfect adventure!

Popular New Zealand Trips

New Zealand

Ultimate South Island Adventure

4.54

  • Duration 8 - 14 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

We'll take you on a journey exploring our mountains in Mount Cook National Park, walking the West Coast rainforest and coastlines, getting up close to glaciers in Franz Josef, cycling incredibly scenic trails, hiking sections of our Great Walks, and even sea kayaking Milford Sound.

Trip Start: Christchurch Trip End: Christchurch

New Zealand

Milford Track Adventure

4.46

  • Duration 12 - 14 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

Choose between hiking the entire length of the Milford Track or day hikes along the equally stunning Routeburn, Milford and Kepler Tracks. You'll also hike trails known only to the locals as you explore Mt Aspiring National Park, the West Coast and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

Trip Start: Christchurch Trip End: Christchurch

New Zealand

Classic South Island Adventure

4.59

  • Duration 5 - 8 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

Short on time? From spending the night on Milford Sound to flying into Siberia Valley, hiking up to Lake Crucible in Mt Aspiring National Park and jet boating out the next morning, exploring the West Coast and Queenstown, you'll be amazed how much we can fit in 8 days!

Trip Start: Christchurch Trip End: Queenstown

New Zealand

New Zealand Winter Adventure

4.63

  • Duration 5 - 14 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 4 
    • Activity Level 4

      Challenge Accepted

      I'll let my trusty guides sweat the small things, so I can focus on my goal. Getting to the top, reaching the end, achieving my dreams! Sure, it'll be tough, but the views will be worth it.

    Read more about the Active Range

Discover the South Island without the crowds. Enjoy a sunrise cruise on Milford Sound, soak in hot pools under vibrant stars at Welcome Flats Hut on the Copland Track, hike part of the Kepler Track and under the towering mountains of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.

Trip Start: Christchurch Trip End: Christchurch

New Zealand

New Zealand Walking Adventure

4.72

  • Duration 8 - 14 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 2 
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

From walking along the golden beaches of Abel Tasman National Park and sipping wine in the Marlborough Sounds to feeling tiny under Aoraki Mt Cook and cruising Milford Sound, the 'Kiwi' is a great tour for those looking to take things at a relaxed pace and explore the best of the South Island.

Trip Start: Christchurch Trip End: Christchurch

New Zealand

Ultimate North Island Adventure

4.4

  • Duration 11 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

Discover your favourite part of the North Island as you hike the renowned Tongariro Alpine Crossing, bike through redwood forests in Rotorua, snorkel or kayak the Poor Knights Islands and walk through otherwordly caves lit by the mysterious glowworm in the Waitomo Caves.

Trip Start: Auckland Trip End: Auckland