Journey to Middle Earth: The Best Times to Visit New Zealand
There's really no bad time to visit New Zealand. Seasons that are opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere make an ideal opportunity to escape hot July weather with a skiing getaway or get toasty at the beach instead of shoveling January snow. Here's the scoop on choosing the best time for your family to visit.
New Zealand Climate
New Zealand incorporates both southern and northern islands with climates ranging from subtropical in the north to seasonal in the southern regions.
Auckland: Located in the north part of New Zealand, Auckland has a mild year-round climate with temperatures ranging from 46-degree F lows in July to 75-degree F days in February. The chances of rain are 50 to 65 percent during the months of December through June. January is the driest month with only 35-percent chance of rain
Wellington: New Zealand's capital, Wellington, is centrally located in the country and rolls out a cooler climate than Auckland. Although winter lows dip to 45 degrees in July, summertime highs generally stay below 70 degrees. The chance of rain ranges from 34 percent in March to 56 percent in June with all but three months having a greater than 40 percent chance of precipitation.
Queenstown: This southern town has the most varied climate, with temperatures in the 30s during June and July. Expect temperatures in the low 70s during December, January and February. February is also the driest with an average of 13 days that bring rain. October is rainiest with an average 19 days of rain.
Pick a Season
Summer: December through February is the height of tourist season, so expect to pay premium prices. Make your reservations early to get the accommodations and tours you want, or they may get sold out. Waitangi Day on February 6 is exceptionally busy: The national holiday celebrating the country's founding comes with a plethora of free events and crowds swelled by workers and kids with the day off. Schools go on break for six weeks beginning in December, and many citizens take summer vacation during this time.
Autumn: Head to Queenstown, Christchurch and Central Otago to enjoy autumn foliage from March through May. Expect increased crowds during Easter holidays and when schools take a two-week break in April.
Winter: Queenstown, Canterbury, Mount Hutt and the North Island's Central Plateau are all at peak pricing for the winter ski season from June through August. Get out of the ski areas to find lower rates and more flexibility for activities without having to make reservations. Kids are out for winter break from school from June to July, and the Queen's Birthday is a national holiday celebrated the first Monday in June.
Spring: September through November is the best time of year to enjoy bright green scenery dotted with baby lambs and wildflowers. Check out daffodils and bluebells near Christchurch and rhododendrons in Dunedin. Schools take a two-week break in September to October, and offices and schools close for Labour Day the last Monday in October.
Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.