New Zealand is one of the most fascinating places in the world. It has it all: glorious nature, stunning scenery, friendly people and exciting cities. It is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Wondering about the best time of year to go to New Zealand? Here is a handy guide to help you decide.
New Zealand is one of the world’s most exciting destinations. If you wish to visit this stunning country and explore its wonders it is worth knowing New Zealand’s seasons and climate. It will help you decide the best time to go and can also help you with some other important decisions. For example, the season will determine the cheapest time to go to New Zealand but also where to go, how to choose the best destination and what to do in New Zealand.
The first thing you need to know is that New Zealand is an island country located in the south-west Pacific. It consists of two major islands (North Island and South Island). There are many high mountains in New Zealand and the weather can be unpredictable throughout the year. That doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter mild and pleasant climate, as long as you know when to go.
Another thing to keep in mind is that New Zealand’s seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Here is a quick chart of New Zealand’s seasons:
- Spring: September, October, November.
- Summer: December, January, February.
- Autumn: March, April, May.
- Winter: June, July, August.
Best Time of Year to Go to New Zealand – Seasons
Spring (September to November) is a great time to explore New Zealand’s cities. It is also a great season for hiking, although you have to stay away from the high mountains covered by deep snow.
Summer (December to February) is the busiest time in New Zealand because this is when the weather is hot and suitable for outdoor activities. Beaches are great during summer so it is a perfect time for those who like water sports. This is also the high peak of tourist season so you may encounter crowds at beaches and anywhere else you go. If you wish to avoid crowds summer is definitely not the best time of year to go to New Zealand. Those who prefer quiet holidays without many people around are strongly advised to visit New Zealand off season, preferably in spring or autumn.
Autumn (March to May) is another great season for hiking. Those who visit New Zealand in autumn will also get to enjoy colourful leaves and changing nature. This is also a good time for those who wish to try winter sports but want to avoid harsh weather. Late autumn and early winter (May and June) are perfect for this: you get some snow but you will also enjoy many beautiful days.
Winter (June to August) is a perfect season for skiing and other winter sports. New Zealand is also known for its amazing winter hiking tracks you may try. New Zealand is great in winter, despite its unpredictable weather so you will sure enjoy your stay.
The bottom line is that New Zealand is fascinating throughout the year. In other words, it is always the best time of year to go to New Zealand – you just need to plan your activities and know where you want to go.
Best Time of Year to Go to New Zealand – Destinations
Now that you know when it’s the best time to go to New Zealand, it’s important to decide where to go. New Zealand is a magnificent country full of wonders. There are many famous tourist destinations and lesser known areas you should visit during your stay. Here are some of the best places to see in New Zealand and the best time to visit each one of them:
Cathedral Cove, also known as Te Whanganui-A-Hei is a stunning rock formation situated on the Coromandel Peninsula. This is one of the most beautiful areas in all New Zealand. The rock formation is located within the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, along with Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay. This is a very popular area for tourists from all around the world. This is a great place to visit throughout the year. However, you might want to avoid the crowds so you should visit Cathedral Cove during less busy times of the year (spring and autumn) and avoid the summer.
Lake Tekapo is one of the most stunning lakes in New Zealand. It is one of the three parallel lakes in the Mazkenzie Basin on the South Island. The Lake is fed by the Godley River and glacier runoff. The glacier gives the lake its unique colour and makes lupines bloom in bight shades of pink and purple. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zelanad and a must-see place for your explorations. Lake Tekapo is beautiful throughout the year but perhaps the best time to visit it is in November, because this is when you can see lupines in full bloom.
Milford Sound is a beautiful fjord located on the south-west side of the New Zealand’s South Island. It looks magnificent and is best to be explored via boat. Milford Sound is always stunning so you can visit it anytime. However, the best time to go is from March to May, when the weather is still warm but not too hot. Alternatively, November may also be a good time because the weather tends to be mild at that time of year. The only potential problem is the rainfall, which has its peak season in December and January, so make sure to remember that.
Wai-O-Tapu is a famous geothermal site in the Okataina Volcanic Centre in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. This region is known for colourful hot springs and impressive boiling mud pools. The hot springs and mud pools are a great tourist attraction and one of the most interesting places to visit in New Zealand. This is the traditional territory of the Ngati Whaoa people. You can visit hot springs anytime, but keep in mind that the park has different opening hours for summers and winters, so make sure to check when it’s open for visitors.
St Clair Beach
St Clair Beach is one of the most famous beaches in New Zealand. It is located in the suburb of Dunedin, one of the largest cities on the South Island. The beach is a popular tourist spot and one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. You can visit St Clair Beach at any time of the year, but remember that the beach is at its busiest during December, February and March. Keep this in mind when booking your travel. If you wish to avoid the crowds you should go outside of the peak months. Warm months that are outside the busiest season might be the best time of year to go to New Zealand and visit St Clair Beach.
Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier, also known as Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, is a beautiful glacier located on the New Zealand’s South Island. The glacier is part of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Franz Josef Glacier is 12 km long and makes a great spot for those who like to explore ice and other wonders of nature. There is also another famous glacier in the area, the Fox Glacier, so make sure to visit that one if you go to Franz Josef Glacier. The best time of the year to visit Franz Josef Glacier is between October and April. However, keep in mind that you can go to the glacier at any time of the year: each season offers different scenery and many interesting things to see at the glacier.
The Moeraki Boulders are impressive spherical rocks located on the Koekohe Beach on the Otago coast. There are numerous clusters of the boulders across the beach, though some of the boulders are isolated. The boulders are unusual for their size (1.5 to 2 meters) and almost spherical shape. Scientists believe that the Moeraki Boulders were created through the cementation of the mudstone during Paleocene, which makes them more than 50 million years old. You can visit the Koekohe Beach and Moeraki Boulders at all times of the year. However, if you wish to admire the Boulders it is best to come at the time of low tide. Morning is the best for visiting Moeraki Boulders since the tide is low and the rocks are positioned to the east so you can catch the sunrise.
Purakaunui Falls are one of the most impressive waterfalls in New Zealand. Located in the Catlins region on the South Island, this is one of the many waterfalls in the area. Purakaunui Falls are known for their great beauty: the water falls down a series of cascading rocks surrounded by lush vegetation. The waterfall is located very near the Catlins Conservation Park, a stunning natural reserve and a popular tourist attraction. If you wish to visit this area you can go at any time of the year. Keep in mind, however, that the view will depend a lot on the vegetation. For example, late autumn is a good time to visit the waterfall if you like colourful trees while the summer is great for those who enjoy green vegetation and scenic views.
Roys Peak is one of the most famous mountains in New Zealand. It is located between Glendhu Bay and Wanaka. The summit of Roys Peak offers stunning views to beautiful Lake Wanaka underneath. Roys Peak is one of the best locations in New Zealand to enjoy the scenery. This is also a great place for hiking. A famous zigzag track leads up to the summit and provides a great opportunity for strenuous hiking. If you wish to visit Roys Peak keep in mind that the hiking track is closed during spring (October to November) because of lambing.
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is one of the most famous tourist destinations in New Zealand. This is the country’s oldest national park and it’s located in the central area of the North Island. This is the area of the active volcanoes Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu and Tongariro. The Park is also the famous hiking spot: this is where a day long hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes place. The full track is about 19 kilometers long. You can visit the Park and hike at any time of year, but you have to do it when the weather is not too harsh. Also, make sure to use a guide.
Cape Farewell is the most northerly point of the New Zealand’s South Island. This headland is located in a remote location so not many tourists go there. If you decide to visit this splendid location you can be sure that you won’t encounter any crowds. You can take the “Clifftop walk” along the headland, which takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete. The area is great for enjoying the views to the ocean and rocky cliffs. You can visit this spot at any time of the year, but beware of the strong winds. Also, the best way to walk the track is during the low tide, so take this into account when choosing the best time to visit Cape Farewell.
Nugget Point is a beautiful headland on the Otago coast on the New Zealand’s South Island. This is a very stunning spot: the headland is surrounded by rocky islets called The Nuggets. There is a famous lighthouse on the top of the Nugget Point. Nugget Point is home to many animals, such as penguins, fur seals and numerous seabird species. This is a very scenic spot you should visit at least once during your stay in New Zealand. You can visit this distinctive spot at any time, but it is on its most impressive during sunrise and sunset.
Hooker Lake is a glacial lake located on the Aoraki Mountain (also known as Mount Cook). The mountain belongs to New Zealand’s Southern Alps. The lake is part of the Hooker Glacier, one of the most famous glaciers in all New Zealand. This is not a particularly large glacier but it owes its popularity to its accessibility. There is a hiking path you can take to visit the glacier and the lake. You can visit this area throughout the year just keep in mind that the quantity of snow and ice will vary from season to season. The ice breaks during summer so it may be easier to hike during this time of year than during winter.
Devils Punchbowl Falls
Devils Punchbowl Falls is one of the most stunning waterfalls in New Zealand. Located in the Arthur’s Pass National park, this is one of the most impressive locations you should visit in New Zealand. There is a handy track that leads up to the base of the waterfall so you can admire its power up close. There are even some benches so you can rest after hiking. You can visit the waterfall at any time of the year. Winter season is the best for those who wish to admire the snow. Spring and summer are great for those who prefer warmer weather.
Orakei Korako is one of the most active geothermal area in New Zealand. It is located near the Waikato River in the Taupo Volcanic Zone on the North Island. Orakei Korako is Māori term for “the place of adorning”. This geothermal region is known for its hot springs and fault-stepped terraces. Each terrace is unique for its colour and other properties. The lowest terrace is the famous Emerald Terrace, the biggest of its kind. It has a characteristic jade green colour. Orakei Korako is considered the biggest geyser area in all New Zealand. You can visit these hot springs and geysers throughout the year.
The Remarkables are among the most famous mountains in New Zealand. Located in the Otago area on the South Island, this mountain range is a popular skifield and a famous tourist destination. You can admire the Remarkables from Queenstown, so this town is the best starting spot to explore the mountain range and the surrounding area. The mountain range is also famous for numerous small lakes. You can visit the Remarkables at any time of the year. However, keep in mind that the winter is the best time for skiing and other winter sports.