South Island New Zealand Weather in July

 

July is peak winter in the South Island, which means a lot of crisp, clear skies and plenty of lovely snow (in parts). It also means that it’ll likely be cold – but not everywhere. Read on for everything you need to know about what weather to expect in the South Island during July. 

 

Winter in Arrowtown

Average Temperatures in the South Island in July

As its the middle of winter, July is often cold in New Zealand, and below freezing in some areas of the South Island – ideal for its world-famous snow sports. Other areas, however, are more mild at this time. Queenstown, for example, the South Island’s winter sports and adventure hub, sees nightly lows well below freezing during July, with average lows of -1.7°C throughout July guaranteeing plenty of great snow. Nelson, meanwhile, New Zealand’s “sunshine capital” at the top of the South Island, still regularly sees temperatures in the mid-teens during July. 

Depending on what you plan to do where you plan to go in the South Island during July, then, here’s what to expect from the temperature gauge:

Location

Min °C

Max °C

Average °C

Min °F

Max °F

Average °F

Christchurch

1.9°C

11.3°C

6.6°C

35.4°F

52.3°F

43.9°F

Nelson

1.9°C

12.5°C

7.2°C

35.4°F

54.5°F

45.0°F

Queenstown

-1.7°C

7.8°C

3.0°C

28.9°F

46.0°F

37.4°F

Dunedin

3.2°C

10.0°C

6.6°C

37.8°F

50.0°F

43.9°F

Average Sunshine Hours Per day in the South Island in July

Winter is in full swing in the South Island in July. What that means is that days are short, and sunlight can be sparse. However, despite heavy rain and snow in some parts, this tends to come in bursts, and there is still plenty of sunshine to be had around the South Island in July – it just depends a bit on where you plan to go. Queenstown sees just over 2.5 hours of sunshine a day between snow dumps, while in Christchurch and Nelson you can still expect around 5 hours of sunshine a day on average in July. Also, those short days are certainly not a bad thing when you consider that they also mean long nights – ideal for star-gazing under the South Island’s famous starry, winter skies.

Location

Ave Sunshine Hours per month

Ave Sunshine Hours per day

Median Daylight Length (hours)

Christchurch

127.1

4.1

9.20

Nelson

159.0

5.13

9.43

Queenstown

88.3

2.85

9.07

Dunedin

110.6 

3.57

8.95

Average Rainfall in the South Island in July

July is in the middle of the rainiest period for many parts of northern New Zealand, including Auckland, Northland and the Bay of Plenty. However, in the South Island, it’s a different story: in some places – such as sunny Nelson and world-famously rainy Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park – this is actually often the driest month of the year. Around other parts of the South Island, a lot of precipitation falls as snow in the mountains, so you don’t actually have too many wet days to worry about.

Location

Rainfall (mm)

Rainfall (inch)

Relative Humidity

Wet Days

Christchurch

68.4

2.69

92%

8.2

Nelson

77.6

3.06

90%

7.8

Queenstown

50.3

1.98

83.3%

6.9

Dunedin

57.1

2.25

80.2%

9.3

Milford Sound

423.7

16.68

93.3% 

14.1

Best Things to do in the South Island in July 

Hit the Slopes 

The South Island ski season is in full swing by July. Head to world-famous resort towns Wānaka and Queenstown to be in the heart of the action, or head into one of Canterbury’s charming club fields for a more local and rustic experience. Wherever you go, there’s bound to be a warm fire, mulled wine and delicious roast lamb waiting for you at the end of the day.

Whale Watching in Kaikōura 

While winter in some parts of the South Island may feel cold to us humans, the seas around the South Island’s East Coast are actually a relative haven by the standards of humpback whales, who leave the freezing Antarctic waters during winter and pass through the ocean-trench off Kaikōura on their seasonal migration northwards. Combined with snowy mountain views of the Kaikōura Ranges in the background, it makes July a pretty special time for whale watching.

See Picturesque Milford Sound Under Snow

It always rains in Milford Sound – but it rains less in July than any other month. Combined with the possibility of fresh snow capping the top of Fiordland’s Mitre Peak, July could offer the best possible photo opportunities of any month.

Spot the Southern Lights

With some of the deepest, darkest nights of the year, July is prime time to see the majestic Southern Lights in the South Island. The further south you go, the better your chances are, so areas around Invercargill, Southland and the Catlins are great destinations during July. Of course, the UNESCO-protected Dark Sky Reserve over Lake Takapō and the Mackenzie Country, combined with the nearby ski fields, also makes the Central South Island a great option this time of year, too.

Ready to go?

If you want to start planning a winter trip to the South Island, head to First Light Travel to find out everything you need to know before you go. They have a dedicated New Zealand travel blog to answer questions on all sorts of topics. You can even book a number of South Island self-drive itineraries straight away. Or, simply get in touch with FLT’s South Island travel experts

 

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

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