What is the weather like in the South Island in September?

 

The weather in the South Island in September bridges the gap between winter and spring, with snow still hanging around at the beginning of the month in some parts, and balmy, summery temperatures having well and truly arrived by the end of the month in others. It’s a time with a lot going on, as people try to make the most of the weather at both ends!

 

Wedderburn Central Otago

Average Temperatures in the South Island in September

In September, temperatures across the South Island start to warm up following the end of winter. Average daily highs around 15°C are common around many places, and nightly lows have largely lost their winter chill. Here’s what temperatures you can expect around different South Island locations during September:

Location

Min °C

Max °C

Average °C

Min °F

Max °F

Average °F

Christchurch

5.2°C

15.3°C

10.3°C

41.4°F

59.4°F

50.5°F

Nelson

5.7°C

15.0°C

10.4°C

42.3°F

59.0°F

50.7°F

Queenstown

2.5°C

12.9°C

7.7°C

36.5°F

55.2°F

45.9°F

Dunedin

5.9°C

13.2°C

9.5°C

42.6°F

55.8°F

49.1°F

Average Sunshine Hours Per day in the South Island in September

Although the changing of the seasons can bring some unstable and unpredictable weather, September generally turns on the sunshine in many parts of the South Island. With winter entering the rear-view mirror, September is a time of lengthening days and longer sunshine hours, too. And although you may still run into cloud (and, in some places, late snow) here and there, here is a rough idea of what to expect in terms of average sunshine hours in the South Island across September:

Location

Ave Sunshine Hours per month

Ave Sunshine Hours per day

Median Daylight Length (hours)

Christchurch

169.5

5.65

11.71

Nelson

189.3

6.31

11.73

Queenstown

153.6 

5.12

11.73

Dunedin

136.8

4.56

11.68

Average rainfall in the South Island in September

September marks the end of a wetter winter period for the East Coast of the South Island, with Christchurch, Kaikōura and Dunedin enjoying one of their driest months of the year in terms of total rainfall. When it comes to wet days, the rising temperatures mean warmer places like Nelson see long periods of sunshine and occasional bursts of rain, while other centres have relatively few total wet days across the month of September. 

Location

Rainfall (mm)

Rainfall (inch)

Relative Humidity

Wet Days

Christchurch

41.1

1.62

79.6%

6.1

Nelson

85.1

3.35

79.7%

9.9

Queenstown

62.4

2.46

73.1%

8.5

Dunedin

48.3

1.90

72.1%

8.7

Milford Sound

551.4

21.71

92.6%

17.3

Best Things to do in the South Island in September 

Enjoy Springtime Festivals 

September kicks off spring in the South Island, and with it comes a whole host of fantastic food and wine festivals to celebrate the good weather, fabulous food and fun festival vibes in the air. Head to the West Coast for the famous Whitebait Festival, enjoy a whole month tasting the best of Central Otago food and wine with Eat.Taste.Central, or head to Kaikōura in time to taste some amazing fresh seafood and enjoy the tunes at Kaikōura Seafest.

Watch an Albatross Take its First Flight

Taiaroa Head, at the end of Dunedin’s Otago Peninsula, is home to the world’s only mainland colony of Royal Albatross, one of the world’s largest and longest-living seabirds. September is a special time at the colony, when chicks hatched earlier in the year are finally ready to take their first flight (and won’t return for several years), while new-season adults arrive to breed after months or years at sea. There are also seals and little penguins resident on the peninsula, making it a must-visit stop for any visiting wildlife lovers to the South Island.

Snag a Late Ski Deal

With spring coming on and most ski resorts winding down for the season, a lot of ski fields offer reduced lift passes and discount deals over the final month or so of the season. This makes September a great time to try skiing in the South Island, especially since a lot of the school holiday and tourist crowds from earlier in the season will have evaporated. 

Try River Rafting

With snow melt pouring into rivers, September is a great time to go white water rafting in the South Island. There are endless options and challenge levels to choose from: the white-knuckle, grade 5 rapids of the Rangitata Gorge near Christchurch), the winding canyons of the Shotover River (outside Queenstown), or a gentle, family-friendly grade 1 paddle down the beautiful Pelorus River (between Nelson and Blenheim).

See New Zealand’s Highest Mountain

September generally has less rainfall than other times of year at Aoraki/Mount Cook, and the warming temperatures and wildlife waking up make it a wonderful time to do like the Hooker Valley or Glacier Walks. Visitors should still pay close attention to weather warnings and be prepared with appropriate clothing, as temperatures can still be very cold, and alpine conditions can change quickly.

Start Planning Your South Island September Trip Right Now

Simply head on over to First Light Travel and you’ll find everything you need to know: from a huge range of first-rate, pre-arranged self-drive itinerary packages to a group of super helpful, expert South Island travel advisers online, ready to help you create your own special travel itinerary. 

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

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