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Best Time 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.


Skip to: Summer - Autumn - Winter - Spring


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! 

best time to visit NZ infographic

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 be in 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 be in 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.

Discover our summer trips

Summer Hiking in New Zealand

Photo: Kelly Zeiler and Wendy Woods enjoying a mid-summer hike in New Zealand's Siberia Valley, on board the 8 day 'Tui' trip.


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.

Discover Our Autumn Trips

Autumn Fall Hiking in New Zealand

Photo: Brigitte Rosson and her travel companions, hiking early in the Nelson Lakes National Park, early April, on board the 14 day 'Rimu' Ultimate South Island Adventure.


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! ...apart from our Australian visitors who head across the Tasman to make the most of our winter slopes. 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 CardronaTreble Conethe RemarkablesCoronet PeakOhau 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.

DISCOVER OUR Winter TRIPS

Winter Hiking New Zealand

Photo: Marc Ewing Chow enjoying a sunrise hike, showing us how beautiful hiking in New Zealand's winter is. This photo was taken on board our 14 day 'Winter Rimu' New Zealand Winter Adventure.


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 back country.

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 be 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.

DISCOVER OUR Spring TRIPS

Spring on the Mueller Ridge

Photo: Lynette Warmington enjoying comfortable spring hiking temperatures on the Mueller Ridge, in Mount Cook National Park. Discover the Mueller Ridge hike on board our 'Rimu' and 'Manuka' trips, on New Zealand's South Island.

Check out our Special Events page to get an idea for when some of our popular racing events and festivals are held each year.


Trustpilot Reviews:


New Zealand adventure tours by season

Spring / Summer / Autumn

  • Ultimate South Island Adventure 'Rimu'
  • Ultimate North Island Adventure 'Kauri'
  • Essence of the South Island 'Tui'
  • South Island Explorer 'Kiwi'
  • Milford Hiking Adventure 'Manuka'
  • New Zealand Biking Adventure 'Weka'
  • New Zealand Family Adventure 'Kea'

Winter

  • New Zealand Winter Adventure 'Winter Rimu'
  • New Zealand Family Adventure 'Kea'
  • Ultimate North Island Adventure 'Kauri'

North Island Adventure

“Fantastic coastal walks, beautiful islands and the icing on the cake was the Tongariro Crossing which our group completed in perfect weather.”
Herts, United Kingdom
Kauri, April 2015
Read Reviews

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    2017 Manuka

    Went into the trip not knowing what to expect. Took the trip solo. Was hesitant on taking a guided tour. Felt like i wouldn't have the freedom to do things at my own speed. Not the case at all! Had virtually no restrictions on the hikes. Amanda and Holly let us move at our own paces. Overall trip was a blast! Couldn't have wished for more. Great hikes, great food, good sleeping accommodations, hard charging guides, everything was taken care of, didn't have to lift a finger. I will be back.
    Dan Baker Review Image
    – APO/FPO AP, United States
    Manuka, May 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    Outstanding Trip!!

    This trip was especially great because of our guides, Ben and Emma. I cannot say enough good things about those two. They were extremely patient, energetic, and very sincere.
    The trip has a wide variety of activities that allowed us to see and experience most of the South Island, keeping us away from the more congested tourist hangouts. I really felt like we saw the true South Island and not just the tourist trap attractions.
    The only reason I have not given it a 5 star rating is because my wife and I are very active and do very challenging trips that most people would never want to take on. It was not a trip of a lifetime for me only because of that. Take "trip of a lifetime" away from the 5 stars and just have excellent and I would mark that. Excellent trip!!!!
    Dave Mastolier Review Image
    – Alaska, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    Kauri

    I combined the Kauri trip, last 5 days, with the Tui trip on the South Island. I did not have enough time to do the full 11-day trip. I am really happy with my decision to do the last 5 days. Crossing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was an amazing experience! I loved everything about this trip... Andy and Jo were absolutely awesome!
    Andrea King Review Image
    – Connecticut, United States
    Kauri, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    Tui Trip

    The Tui tour was the best trip I've ever had, all the group was great and very friendly, there was a very good feeling with all the group. It was so great to see all the nice places that you have in NZ, the tour passed so fast that I would love to do another one with you guys! And what about the super guides that we had - Jordy and Holly! They are the best ever, I would like to thank them again so much for the great time we had with them, I'm ready to do more! Holly next time we'll do the swimming race in the lake? Thanks a lot again, Ia orana from Tahiti.
    Peva Levy Review Image
    – tahiti teahupoo, French Polynesia
    Tui, May 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    Chris Darcy review of Rimu Trip

    The term trip of a lifetime gets used far too frequently. This was one. The South Island of New Zealand is likely the most beautiful place on earth, pound for pound. Nowhere else can you find so much beautiful landscape, diverse landscapes and microclimates packed into such a small area, which can be travelled in such a short amount of time while still doing it justice. Our guides, Holly and Claire, were fantastic - wonderful dispositions, knowledgeable, tireless and attentive - and made the trip special. And Kiwis are some of the nicest folks on earth (after Canadians of course) - we didn't have a single negative experience the whole time we were there. If you've been thinking of going to New Zealand don't wait - you can't do better than this trip - just make sure you take extra memory cards for your camera.
    Chris Darcy Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Rimu, November 2016

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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