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A taste of New Zealand seasons.

New Zealand Seasons

Here in New Zealand, our seasons are opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere. December means barbeques and swimming at the beach, while the colder months of June & July offer vibrant winter festivals and excellent skiing. What’s the best New Zealand seasons to visit New Zealand, you may ask? Well, that depends entirely what you’re after. Here’s our guide to the weather, festivals, and characteristics of New Zealand’s seasons. 

Spring in New Zealand

September, October, November

Characterised by flowers in bloom, baby animals, longer days and an abundance of Kiwifruit, spring in New Zealand is an uplifting time. The season can mean unsettled weather – one minute you’re adding layers and a scarf, and the next you’re trying to lay your hands on a t-shirt – but the lush green of new growth that can be seen everywhere makes up for it. This is shoulder season for exploring New Zealand, so you’ll beat the crowds and have most of the country to yourself – it’s a great time to explore on foot. You’re looking at high temperatures around the country that are between 15 and 18 degrees C (59 – 64 F). September’s lively Whitianga Scallop Festival, held in the coastal paradise that is the Coromandel Peninsula, is a must for lovers of seafood. A mouth-watering celebration of the start of the scallop season, it’s the perfect place to devour the succulent, sweet scallops that this region is known for. Wellington’s World of Wearable Art festival also takes place during spring – this celebration of colour, creativity, and theatre is not to be missed for those that love drama and world-class design.

Summer in New Zealand

December, January, February

We Kiwis love summer. We’re active and happy, relishing the long days and after-work swims that come with this time of year (not to mention all the BBQ’s, beer drinking and public holidays!) You’ll find that the majority of the country has a spring in their step from early December, clearly excited for Christmas holidays at the beach and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

During this time, the country enjoys stretches of sunny, fine weather with daylight lasting till 9 or 10 pm in many places.  If you love sailing, fishing, surfing or anything to do with the water, summer is the perfect time to visit. Lakes and beaches are an enjoyable temperature, and spending a happy hour by the water is a magical way to end the day. The Wellington Sevens, held in February every summer, is New Zealand’s biggest and most colourful sporting event. Thousands of fans flock to the country’s capital, dressed in fancy dress and ready to party all weekend long.

For something with a little more elegance and history, the Art Deco Festival in Hawke’s Bay transports the city of Napier back to the 1930’s era of glitz and glamour. Or, a relaxing day of gourmet food and wine by the water can be enjoyed at the Devonport Food & Wine festival – only a ten-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland

Autumn (Fall) in New Zealand

March, April, May

Autumn is characterised by settled, warm weather, colder nights and trees that light up in gold, orange and yellow. It’s the start of the winter sports season, with locals gearing up for the first exciting rugby and netball games of the year. Feijoas come into season – this tangy, green fruit is best eaten freshly picked off the tree or in a hearty crumble for dessert.

Many beaches and lakes hold their warm temperatures till the end of March or into mid-April – you may even have them all to yourself! Autumn is a great time to explore New Zealand; you’ll avoid the crowds of summer but still get to enjoy long, fine days. Highs sit around 17 C (63 F). Food and Beer festivals abound during this season.

For intrepid foodies, the Hokitika Wildfood Festival beckons – sample wacky dishes like beetle grubs, fried wetas or seagull eggs in this uniquely New Zealand celebration. Lovers of craft beer can head to the country’s beer brewing capital, Nelson, for Marchfest; a celebration of the hops growing season. Hamilton’s iconic Balloons over Waikato is also in Autumn, attracting hot air balloonists from all over the world.

Winter in New Zealand

June, July, August 

Winter weather can often be surprising – crisp, clear days are not uncommon; and many find the cooler temperatures and chance to rug up refreshing. Ski bunnies will be in their element; New Zealand is an international skiing destination with spectacular alpine landscapes and exciting off-piste activities to boot.

Expect fantastic snowfall at the ski fields during the winter months. Use the cold as an excuse to indulge in beautiful, hearty kiwi roast dinners – lamb and beef are national favourites. Make sure to include a glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir. High temperatures during winter sit around 12 C (54 F), and snow is limited to the Central North Island and much of the South Island.

The Queenstown Winter Festival is New Zealand’s biggest winter celebration, featuring a week-long party in magical, snow-covered Queenstown. The buzzing Mardi-Gras feel and winter sports action creates an exciting festival atmosphere that’s worth travelling for. Matariki, the Maori New Year, is also celebrated during winter. Fascinating cultural performances, live music, and family events are held all over the country.


At First Light Travel, we believe New Zealand is a great place to visit in any season – the friendly, engaging locals, fun kiwi culture and delicious food & wine will be a mainstay of your visit, no matter the time of year. If you are looking for assistance in planning your New Zealand self-drive or private group tour, then please feel free to contact us and we will tailor a New Zealand vacation exactly the way you want it.  Contact us here, or find out more about what we can offer on our website.  

Other articles that may be of interest

Which island is better - the North or South Island
How far in advance should I book my holiday
Unique places to visit in New Zealand

Last updated on the 30 December 2018 by Alex

Travel Preparation
New Zealand
Submitted by
Alex Bayes
: 23 Apr 2014 (Last updated: 11 Jan 2019)

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