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Best Time to Visit New Zealand

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Lupins around Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Lupins around Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

The four seasons of New Zealand make it a great place to visit year-round, but September, October, March, April and May are the best months to visit.

From your exploration of Maori traditions to trekking around erupting geysers, sampling celebrated food and wine or uncovering the depths of the unique wilderness, when you visit can change how you experience the diversity of the country.

Each season in New Zealand brings opportunity, and there is the perfect time to take your vacation based on what you want to see and do.

Best Time for Sightseeing

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Best Months: September | October | March | April | May

New Zealand’s four distinctive seasons make it a great place to visit year-round, but September to October and again from March to May are the best months to visit. The shoulder seasons in the Southern Hemisphere’s spring (September to October) and also in the Southern Hemisphere’s fall (March, April, and May) have great weather across the islands and crowds much smaller than in the popular summer tourist season. Flowers bloom or change dramatic colors, the cuisine also shifts with the seasons, again revealing the islands' incredible diversity spread more than 1,000 miles apart from north to south.

Best Time for Beaches

Beach in Sandfly Bay, Otago Peinsula, New Zeand

Beach in Sandfly Bay, Otago Peinsula, New Zeand

Best Months: January | February | March

The Southern Hemisphere’s summer months of January and February are the best time for the beach in New Zealand. The ocean temperatures around the North Island are comfortable even along the rugged coastline. By February, locals have returned to work clearing the majority of shorelines throughout the day, perfect for lounging on the sands or winding through the trails that lead you to perfect panoramic views on some of New Zealand’s nearly 8,700 miles of coastline.

Best Time for Whale Watching

Humpback whale off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zeland

Humpback whale off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zeland

Best Months: June | July | August

The Southern Hemisphere’s winter in June, July, and August are the best months to visit New Zealand for the biggest diversity in whale watching. Sperm whales reside off the coast year-round, but winter creates a more exciting season for spectators who want to see migrating pods of humpback, pilot, right, and even blue whales. The travel whales love to stop near the New Zealand shores on the long journey to tropical waters.

Best Time for Surfing

Dawn surfing in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Dawn surfing in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Best Months: December | January | February | March

The Southern Hemisphere’s summer months leading into spring give you the best surfing opportunities in New Zealand. Surfers along the shores of the North Island jump in without a wetsuit in summer, especially in the warm weather at the island’s northern tip along the Bay of Islands. While the waters along the South Island require a wetsuit year-round, the swells are great between December and March, especially around places like Kaikoura and Dunedin.

Best Time for Wine Country

Vineyard in the Marlborough region of New Zealand

Vineyard in the Marlborough region of New Zealand

Best Months: February | March | April | May

Fall in the Southern Hemisphere gives way to the harvest season across New Zealand, making February, March, April, and May fantastic months to visit the islands’ wine regions. The country is famous for celebrated wines like sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. The changing leaves, the harvest, and an exceptional blend of grape varietals make the fall the perfect time to discover New Zealand's distinct wines' local specialties and specific personalities.

Best Time with Family Travel

Family kayaking Lake Rotoita in Rotorua, New Zealand.  Photo courtesy Destination Rotorua

Family kayaking Lake Rotoita in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo courtesy Destination Rotorua

Best Months: March | April | September | October

New Zealand is the ultimate family destination with the Southern Hemisphere’s autumn and spring, giving you the perfect combination of weather and activities. Family-friendly excursions can take you kayaking in national parks or hiking on hidden trails, searching for rare dolphins, or visiting endangered penguins. With so many nature-based activities accessible during fall and spring, you can enjoy a range of adventures from thrill-seeking to exploratory in the comfortable absence of the summer crowds.

Best Time for Couples

Ballooning over the Canterbury Plains near Chistchurch, New Zealand

Ballooning over the Canterbury Plains near Chistchurch, New Zealand

Best Months: March | April | October | November | December

The best time for couples to visit New Zealand spans the Southern Hemisphere’s fall and spring, spreading into the summer month of December. Starry-eyed romantics can find a retreat from crowds in intimate stargazing encounters or sailing excursions, traveling on a hot air balloon with sparkling wine or indulging in a private picnic at a celebrated vineyard. The diversity of New Zealand’s landscape gives you endless choices on how you can indulge in the more luxurious and active characteristics of the islands, whether horseback riding on a beach or basking in a thermal pool.

Spring and Summer Activities

Jetboating the Dart river in New Zealand

Jetboating the Dart river in New Zealand

Best Months: September | October | January | February

Spring and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere include the months of September, October, January, and February, which are the perfect months to enjoy seasonal activities in New Zealand. While excursions like visiting a museum or a restaurant are year-round, other activities are weather permitting. September, October, January, and February give you the best weather for seasonal-dependent activities that define the New Zealand experience like:

Trekking | Rafting | Island Hopping | Jetboating | Glamping | Wine Tasting

Fall and Winter Activities

Skiing at The Remarkables Ski Resort, overlooking Queenstown, New Zealand.  Photo courtesy Destination Queenstown

Skiing at The Remarkables Ski Resort, overlooking Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo courtesy Destination Queenstown

Best Months: March | April | May | July | August

The best months to visit New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere’s fall and winter are March, April, May, July, and August. The temperatures shift across the country, but outside of the mountains and most southerly tip of the South Island, the climate doesn’t change dramatically. Fall and winter provide a completely different view of the islands giving way to a different set of activities, excursions, and wildlife unique to New Zealand like:

Snowboarding | Skiing | Whale Watching | Nature Excursions | Cycling Expeditions | Hot Springs | Wildlife Encounters

More Travel Information & Tips

Maruia Hot Springs in New Zealand

Maruia Hot Springs in New Zealand

New Zealand’s seasons experience deep and rich changes in temperature, available activities, and accessibility. Knowing these differences can help you narrow down the places you want to visit and the experiences you want. Each season has thrilling adventures and relaxing retreats with plenty of things to do, like watching for whales or lounging in hot springs. You can explore more exciting opportunities and helpful information with our New Zealand Travel Guide. To plan a trip, you can speak with a New Zealand travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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