South Island New Zealand Weather in August

 

Winter weather is well upon the South Island in August, meaning plenty of opportunities for winter sports and other activities. With clear skies, picturesque snowfall, and plenty of sunshine

Winter wonderland

August is a fabulous time for sight-seeing, star-gazing, and enjoying the many fabulous activities available on a South Island holiday.

 

Average Temperatures in the South Island in August

Average temperatures across the South Island in August are relatively mild compared with the preceding few months, but there’s still likely to be some cold nights and good dumplings of snow around! In the northern regions of the South Island like Nelson and Marlborough, it’s common to have daily high temperatures in the mid-teens, while even the lowest temperatures in major coastal cities like Christchurch and Dunedin are still quite mild. In Queenstown and the mountains, average low temperatures hover around 0°C to allow it to snow, but don’t fall too much below freezing level.

Location

Min °C

Max °C

Average °C

Min °F

Max °F

Average °F

Christchurch

3.2°C

12.7°C

7.9°C

37.8°F

54.9°F

46.2°F

Nelson

3.4°C

13.4°C

8.4°C

38.1°F

56.1°F

47.1°F

Queenstown

0.2°C

9.8°C

5.0°C

32.4°F

49.6°F

41.0°F

Dunedin

4.2°C

11.2°C

7.7°C

39.6°F

52.1°F

45.9°F

Average Sunshine Hours Per day in the South Island in August

The day length is still relatively short in the South Island during August, with daylight hours continuing to increase out of the winter equinox at the end of June. Still, there are plenty of pockets of sunshine around, and you can expect up to six hours of sunshine a day depending where you plan to go. In Nelson, Marlborough, Abel Tasman National Park and the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds, you can expect nearly 200 hours of sunshine across August; while in Queenstown and the mountains there are just over 100 hours of sunshine for the month, thanks largely to snow showers.

Location

Ave Sunshine Hours per month

Ave Sunshine Hours per day

Median Daylight Length (hours)

Christchurch

153.9

4.96

10.28

Nelson

182.2

5.88

10.42

Queenstown

120.0 

3.87

10.22

Dunedin

122.2

3.94

10.13

Average rainfall in the South Island in August

August is one of the rainiest months of the year in some South Island centres like Nelson and Christchurch. However, these areas still receive far less rainfall during August than other parts of the country, such as the top of the North Island, where this is the rainiest period of the year. Apart from Milford Sound and the West Coast – one of the wettest regions on Earth – you can expect a relatively small number of wet days across the South Island in August, no matter where you plan on visiting.

Location

Rainfall (mm)

Rainfall (inch)

Relative Humidity

Wet Days 

Christchurch

64.4

2.54

87.6%

8.2

Nelson

81.9

3.22

86.6%

8.6

Queenstown

66.2

2.61

80.5%

9.1

Dunedin

55.7

2.19

77.6%

9.6

Milford Sound

463.5

18.25

93.2%

16.1

Best Things to do in the South Island in August 

Go Skiing

August is a fantastic month to go skiing in the South Island. Wānaka and Queenstown hum during August, with powder hounds and snow-lovers from all over the world descending on these fabulous Central Otago resort towns and their world-famous ski areas. For a more out-of-the-way and local experience, head into one of dozens of small club fields and family resorts dotted throughout upland Canterbury and Marlborough, such as Mt. Cheesman, Mt. Lyford, Broken River or Roundhill.

Watch Migrating Whales in Kaikōura 

August is right in the middle of migration season for humpback whales moving up from the freezing Antarctic Ocean towards the warmer waters of the South Pacific to give birth, before returning at the end of winter to feed on Antarctic krill. On their way, they swing by the rich ocean-trench just off the coast of Kaikōura, making August a brilliant time to go whale and wildlife watching here. And we haven’t even mentioned the stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Kaikōura Ranges yet!

See Mitre Peak and Fiordland in the Snow

Speaking of stunning, snow-capped backdrops: it’s hard to beat images of Milford Sound’s glacial, glass-like waters reflecting Fiordland’s majestic Mitre Peak at any time – but it’s especially hard to top during winter, when snow sitting atop Mitre Peak just adds to the majesty. 

See Rare Royal Albatross Ready to Take Flight

Having built up their fluff and flying skills over the previous 8 months or so, the resident Royal Albatross chicks at Taiaroa Head (at the tip of Dunedin’s Otago Peninsula) are busy preparing for their first flight in September. These remarkable birds – which spend up to 85% of their lives at sea – won’t return, or even touch land, for another 4-5 years before coming back to start the next generation of breeding seasons. That makes August a great time to spot them, at the world’s only mainland colony, before they go.

Looking to get a South Island trip in the books?

If you like the sound of visiting the South Island in August, then head on over to the First Light Travel website to find out everything you need to know. You can even book a number of great South Island self-drive itineraries directly. Or, if you’d prefer to make your own itinerary, then FLT’s South Island travel experts are online and ready to help you do so, free of charge. 

David Mckenzie
By
David Mckenzie
: 20 Dec 2022 (Last updated: 21 Dec 2022)

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