When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?
Published on: July 25th, 2017
Last modified: July 28th, 2023
The best time to visit New Zealand is all about when you can enjoy the great outdoors.
Their summer – January and February – sees some of the best weather but it is also the busiest time of year. Visiting during the spring (March to April) and autumn (November to December) is a good option, as the weather is still warm but the main sites tend to be less busy.
If you're skiing or snowboarding, visit during New Zealand's winter from June to September. While it's not uncommon to experience sunny, crisp days, it's a little nippy for some activities such as kayaking and swimming.
Whale watching and wine tasting can be done all year round.
Beat the Crowds
New Zealand’s summer (January and February) has some of the best weather but this is also the peak tourism season. Visitor numbers rocket as New Zealanders go on holiday after Christmas and international travellers come in search of some southern hemisphere sun. As such, hotels get booked up fast and popular sites and hiking trails can get very crowded. The shoulder seasons from March to April and November to December are great options, as the weather is still pleasant and warm during the day and there are fewer people about.
The Best Time to...
Catch Helicopter Rides and Scenic Flights
Most companies offer flights all year round, but for the best chance of clear blue skies and incredible views of the peaks and lakes below, you’ll want to take to the skies from spring to autumn, between March and December.
Go Wine Tasting
New Zealand produces some of the world’s best wine and is particularly known for its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Wineries are open all year but if you visit in March and April you will catch the harvest.
Ski and Snowboard
For those that love to ski and snowboard, New Zealand’s South Island is one big winter playground from June to August. Queenstown, in particular, is a hive of activity during the winter months with several ski slopes nearby – there is even the option to heli-ski for those looking for an extra boost of adrenaline. Be aware that in extreme winter weather, snow chains are required on vehicles and some passes are closed.
Go Whale and Dolphin Spotting
Sperm whales and dolphins around Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, can be spotted all year round. Orcas may be spotted from December to March and humpback whales in June and July. Underwater canyons and a rare system of sea currents makes this the perfect place for male sperm whales who come here to feed while the females and calves reside in warmer tropical waters. If you want to swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands, you’ll want to head when it’s warming, during New Zealand’s spring and summer.
Best Time for a Multi-Destination Trip
The warmer weather in New Zealand coincides with the rainy season in the South Pacific. If you visit at this time of year, be prepared for heavy showers, humidity and the potential for cyclones (particularly during February and March). The best time to visit both New Zealand and the South Pacific is from May to August when it is winter in New Zealand but the dry season in counties such as Fiji and French Polynesia.