South Island New Zealand in February

South Island NZ Road trip

February is a fantastic time to plan a South Island tour itinerary. With hot days, mild evenings, little rainfall and plenty of sunshine, it’s a fabulous time to get out and explore the many beautiful landscapes that the South Island has to offer. 


Punakaiki West Coast

Expect to see plenty of jandals (a.k.a. “flip-flops”) out this month, because February is peak summer in the South Island – typically meaning warm to hot days, lots of sunshine hours, and relatively low rainfall compared with other times of the year. This makes it a popular time for South Islanders to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, whether that means in the mountains, at the lake, on the beach, or relaxing at one of the South Island’s many small holiday towns.

Average Temperatures in the South Island in February

The South Island’s weather is diverse, and what to expect in February changes from place to place. However, overall you can expect relatively warm to hot temperatures throughout February. Average daytime highs for the entire South Island throughout the month are 22°C (71.5°F), with nightly lows around 11°C (52°F) and an overall average temperature of 15°C (59°F).

If you’re wondering what to expect from particular stops along your South Island trip, though, take a closer look here: 

Queenstown: Queenstown and the Central Otago lakes region regularly has warm days throughout February, with daily highs of 22°C dropping to around 9°C at night, averaging 15°C across February. 

Wanaka Mou Waho Island

Christchurch: February can bring some sweltering temperatures in Christchurch. In fact, Christchurch is regularly the hottest place in New Zealand during early February, and four of the five hottest days ever recorded in New Zealand – including 42°C in Christchurch – have been in eastern Canterbury during this period. However, summer days are usually cooled by the prevailing northeasterly breeze, and it’s much more normal to see temperatures in the low to mid-20’s. Average highs are 22.1°C, lows 12.2°C, and an overall average temperature of 17.2°C for February. 

Nelson: Nelson and the surrounding Tasman area enjoys sunny days and warm temperatures throughout February, averaging 17.9°C for the month, with daily highs of 22.6°C and nightly lows at a mild 13.3°C. 

Dunedin: Things are still mild in Dunedin in February. The average high is 18.6°C, dropping to around 11.5°C at night, with an overall average temperature of 15°C. 

Sailing in Abel Tasman

Average Sunshine Hours Per day in the South Island in January

If you want to enjoy some time in the sun and plenty of clear days, February is a great month to plan a South Island holiday:

Nelson: Nelson is the “Sunshine Capital of New Zealand”, and February sees plenty of it – a total of 231 hours on average, meaning 8.25 hours of sunshine per day on average. Gorgeous.

Christchurch: The summer sun starts to fade a bit during February in Christchurch, but there’s still plenty of sunshine to go along with those hot days – 6.97 sunshine hours per day, in fact. 

Queenstown: Hidden away in the mountains from the encroaching coastal weather, Queenstown still enjoys peak-summer sunshine hours in February, with 7.4 hours of sunshine per day.

Dunedin: You may see some clouds hovering for periods over Dunedin in February, but overall you can still expect about 5.6 hours of sunshine a day across the month of February.

Average rainfall in the South Island in February

Given its geographic diversity, it can be hard to make sweeping statements about rainfall across the South Island. However, if there’s one month when you can safely generalise about average rainfall in the South Island, it’s February: it’s dry!

How much rain to expect, of course, still depends a lot on where exactly you want to go – for example, February is typically the driest month of the year in Christchurch (40 mm), Nelson (58 mm) Queenstown (60 mm), and the otherwise perennially wet West Coast towns of Hokitika (165 mm) and Westport (130 mm). Milford Sound’s 500 mm average rainfall for the month is actually low by its own, world-leading rainfall standards; while Blenheim and the Marlborough region is one of the driest places in New Zealand in February, barely getting 20 mm of rain on average for the month.

Best Things to do in the South Island in January 

With most New Zealanders going back to work and school around the end of January, February can be a great time to explore the South Island without any crowds. Whether you want to be active, take it easy, or pack in the sight-seeing, there are hundreds of fantastic things to do in the South Island in February. 

Here are just a few to get you started:

See Aoraki/Mount Cook in all its Glory

February has the highest average temperatures, the lowest snow and rainfall, and (just about) the most sunshine hours of any month of the year at Aoraki-Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Walk to the Glacier Lake, have dinner at the historic Hermitage Hotel, or simply stop at the head of Lake Pukaki and enjoy the million-dollar views.

Hike the Heaphy Track

February is the ideal time to enjoy one of New Zealand’s acclaimed Great Walks. Taking you from the pristine coastal landscapes of Golden Bay through lush native forests to the rugged and roaring seas of the West Coast, the Heaphy is a manageable-for-all-ages track that offers the best of the South Island in a nutshell.

Moutnain biking the Heaphy Track

How to Plan Your South Island Getaway

First Light Travel have a number of expert South Island travel advisors at hand, online, who can help you piece together your own customised South Island itinerary. Alternatively, there’s already a number of superb self-drive South Island tour itineraries on the First Light Travel website that you can book now. You can also find any information you need before you go on the New Zealand travel information blog.


David Mckenzie
David Mckenzie
: 10 Nov 2022 (Last updated: 10 Nov 2022)

Download Our Free NZ Travel Guide

Get our free guide which is full of actionable tips and information about how to make the most of your time in New Zealand.

Blog archives

Pricing terms

The price is based on current exchange rates but is only an approximation. Please contact us for a final price