Best time to go to New Zealand

Best time to visit New Zealand


Click on a location: Auckland | Milford Sound
New Zealand is mild with the west coast of South Island, Milford Sound especially, getting maximum moisture. The island’s east coast is alive with colour in spring (Sep-Nov) and autumn (Mar-May); both seasons are the best time to visit New Zealand. Jun-Aug is great for winter sports, and traveling outside peak season offers more affordable accommodation albeit with colder temps. Dec-Feb is all about orcas in Kaikoura (dolphins can be seen almost year-round), with Kiwis on vacation or enjoying days out at the beach.

A month by month weather guide to New Zealand


Christmas in New Zealand is hot and Boxing Day (26th Dec) onwards is the traditional time for Kiwi families to hit the lakes or the beaches.

The busiest locations over the festive period on North Island are Northland, Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty, Taupo and Rotorua lake districts. Nelson, Queenstown and Arrowtown on South Island also get busy, but not quite as hectic as NI.

November, December, January, February and March are peak months for tourists so if you’re looking for more affordable prices and more space on hiking paths consider visiting either side of summer.

Mid-March or mid-October are the best times to see migratory birds with Miranda on North Island and Farewell Spit on South Island witnessing thousands of species flocking to their shores.

Out of New Zealand’s nine ‘Great Walks’ only the 80km Heaphy Track is open all year round with peak walking season lasting from October through to April.

April and May are absolutely gorgeous with autumnal colours combining with good weather and off peak prices before the winter kicks in during June, July and August.

May, June and July are also the best times to watch bottlenose dolphins and orcas around the Bay of Islands whereas sperm whales and humpbacks can be spotted off the coast of Kaikoura.

Spring is another great time to visit New Zealand with September and October offering longer, warmer days, comfortably cool nights, tree blossom and snow-capped mountains.

What happens when in New Zealand


Caroline Stafford at our New Zealand supplier Silver Fern Vacations shares her favourite foodie festivals: “Take your pick of the many, many food festivals that New Zealand has to offer throughout the year. Our personal favourites are the Marlborough food and wine festival in February; Toast Martinborough wine, food and music festival in November; Hokitika Wild Foods Festival in March and Bluff Oyster and Food Festival in May.”

Season tips

Miles Clark, New Zealand expert at our supplier MoaTrek, shares his local knowledge:
“New Zealand is small but there is an amazing variety of scenery accessible without driving huge distances. If a traveler can budget three weeks for a tour they really have a good chance of seeing the best of NZ at a relaxed pace. November to March is peak season but April is also a great time to travel as there’s still good weather but less people. But do pack clothing for all weather possibilities, regardless of season.”



Did you know about...?

Matariki is a Maori celebration of the first annual sighting of the Pleiades star cluster which occurs between late May and early June. This astronomical event signals the advent of the Maori New Year with numerous performing arts displays, kite flying festivals and lantern parades held across New Zealand alongside winter carnivals and family feasts.
Photo credits: [temp topbox: Francesco] [Advice - Rock Burn Valley: Tomas Sobek] [Matariki: Le Loi]

Written by: Chris Owen
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