The BEST Time to Visit New Zealand by Month & Season

Best time to visit New Zealand Blog Post Cover Graphic - Text overlaying an image of Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) over a beach

If you are here for an answer to the question “when is the best time to visit New Zealand?” the short answer is “Spring”.

And if you specifically want to know what month is best to visit New Zealand, the short answer is November. It is one of the least busy months for tourism, the lupins are in full blossom, and it is among the driest months.

There is, of course, a much longer answer to these questions. Depending on your personal interests and style of travel, each month provides different compelling reasons to visit New Zealand. For example, September is the best time to capture the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights), February is both the driest and slowest month, and January has the most summer festivals and events!

We recognize the importance of understanding the inherent advantages and disadvantages to visiting New Zealand during each season. Therefore, we designed this post to help you come to your own conclusion on when the best time to visit New Zealand is for you!

This guide provides a thorough breakdown of the monthly and seasonal climate of New Zealand, as well as general advice to consider while planning.

Spring is also the best time to visit New Zealand for rainbows and dramatic skies!
Spring is also the best time to visit New Zealand for rainbows and dramatic skies!

If you are planning a vacation to the South Island, we recommend opening up some of our other travel guides (listed below) to help you plan the “where to visit” once you’ve decided the “when to visit.”

Best Time to Visit New Zealand:
New Zealand in Spring

And of course, spring is also the best time to visit New Zealand for sunsets!
And of course, spring is also the best time to visit New Zealand for sunsets!

As mentioned, we consider spring the best time to visit New Zealand for a multitude of reasons. Temperatures are moderate, crowds are smaller, the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) is occasionally visible, and the mountains remain snow-capped for some scenic beauty. Beyond that, the seasonal clouds tend to create some of the most dramatic sunsets you’ll see anywhere in the world!

Of course, the main reason most people would choose to visit New Zealand in spring is for the incredible lupin blossom that peaks in November.

When is Spring in New Zealand?

Spring in New Zealand typically begins in late September and transitions to summer sometime in December. Peak lupin bloom is typically in mid-November.

New Zealand in September

Depending on how far North you are, spring will generally begin somewhere between mid-late September. If you’re exploring Auckland in the North Island, you’ll likely find warmer temperatures. However, the South Island may still experience the occasional snow dusting, especially in the higher elevations, but the weather tends to be quite mild and pleasant.

If you’re very lucky, you can also still catch Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) during September on occassion!

September is the best month to visit New Zealand to see the aurora australis (southern lights.)
September is the best month to visit New Zealand to see the aurora australis (southern lights.)

New Zealand Average Temperatures in September

North Island
Avg. low 5°c (42°F)
Avg. high 17°c (63°F)

South Island
Avg. low 2°c (35°F)
Avg. high 16°c (61°F)

As you can see, the spring climate in New Zealand is fairly mild and pleasant during the day, but gets quite cold at night. It is not uncommon for the South Island to experience some light snow on occasion.

New Zealand Tourism in September

279,754 International Visitors in 2019
5th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in September

The main reason we recommend visiting New Zealand in September is that you have a better chance of seeing the Aurora Australis than in other months. Winter tends to get the most light shows, but it is also the cloudiest time of year. Therefore, you often can’t see the lights behind the clouds. By September, the skies tend to clear up while the nights are still long. This provides the right combination for a chance at catching this rare miracle of nature!

In addition, sunny days with snow-capped mountains and spring clouds all combine for some amazing conditions for travel and New Zealand photography. The mild temperatures make for good hiking and exploring.

Snow-capped mountains and landscapes of New Zealand in September.
We love the snow-capped mountains and landscapes of New Zealand in September.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in September

If winter sticks around a bit longer, you may find yourself still dealing with mediocre weather and some very cold nights.

This is also the hardest season to pack for, as you will need everything from shorts to winter jackets! Having such variable conditions makes it tough to even decide what to wear on a day trip as you may encounter several different microclimates in the span of only hours.

NZ National Holidays & Events in September

One downside to visiting New Zealand in September is that there are no big holidays or events to celebrate with the locals. However, the New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks, are very beloved by their country and do have some international games in September. Check the schedule for that and if you’re interested in sports at all, it can be good fun to find a local pub and cheer on the boys!

New Zealand in October

Spring lupin become to bloom in October, but are not in full blossom until November.
Spring lupin become to bloom in October, but are not in full blossom until November.

October is a beautiful time to visit New Zealand in terms of weather and conditions, but is arguably the worst month to visit overall. It is the busiest month of the year, one of the wettest, and the wildflowers are not yet in bloom. If possible, consider a November visit instead.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in October

North Island
Avg. low 7°c (44°F)
Avg. high 10°c (66°F)

South Island
Avg. low 3°c (37°F)
Avg. high 18°c (65°F)

The average temperatures do not change too much between September and October in New Zealand, but you are less likely to encounter a freak snow storm and tend to have more sunny days.

New Zealand Tourism in October

326,409 International Visitors in 2019
2nd busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in October

Many people enjoy the spring showers that come in October, especially landscape photographers and waterfall chasers. With the melting snow still visible on the mountains peaks and a strong flow in most water systems, October can be a good time to photograph a landscape rejuvenated by spring.

October in New Zealand is the best time to visit for waterfall chasers.
October in New Zealand is the best time to visit for waterfall chasers.

Those rain clouds also have a higher likelihood of creating some incredible sunsets!

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in October

October receives a fair amount of rainfall, which can make trails muddy and pose challenges for road trippers living out of small spaces.

The primary reason for not visiting New Zealand in October is that it is literally the busiest month of the year. The first two weeks of October are typically the spring break for New Zealand schools, meaning there are also more local tourists. Wet weather, massive crowds, and some weeks to go before the wildflowers and lupin bloom are all reasons to postpone your trip until November, if possible.

Furthermore, if you’re hoping to hike Roys Peak, the track is closed during October for lambing seasons.

NZ National Holidays & Events in October

The only public holiday in October is Labour Day, which may mean a few BBQs here and there if the weather is nice, but otherwise, you’ll likely only know it’s a holiday when you discover some local shops closed or a few extra cars in the trailhead parking lots.

Halloween is becoming increasingly popular each year and is celebrated on October 31st. Depending on where you are, you may be able to find some events going on locally, especially in Auckland or Christchurch where backpackers fuel a bit more enthusiasm for the event.

New Zealand in November

November is the best time to visit New Zealand for the incredible lupin bloom!
November is the best time to visit New Zealand for the incredible lupin bloom!
Photo: Adobe Stock / Edit: We Dream of Travel

November is the best month to visit New Zealand. Spring temperatures are perfect in the day and only slightly chilly at night, and the weather is more reliable overall as November is the driest month.

The most compelling reason to visit New Zealand in November, however, is that this is usually peak bloom for lupins and other wildflowers. The South Island is particularly renowned for the colorful spring bouquets.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in November

North Island
Avg. low 7°c (46°F)
Avg. high 21°c (70°F)

South Island
Avg. low 5°c (41°F)
Avg. high 20°c (68°F)

November is when you start to see consistently mild temperatures and is typically the driest month in New Zealand. The nights are cold but not freezing, and the days are warm but not hot.

October in New Zealand means wildflower season!
October in New Zealand means wildflower season!

New Zealand Tourism in November

233,660 International Visitors in 2019
9th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in November

November is the best month to visit New Zealand due to the mild temperatures, reliably dry weather, smaller crowds, roaring waterfalls, and blossoming wildflowers. Simply put, November is the month when all the conditions you desire for exploring New Zealand seem to align.

Photographers and nature enthusiasts will be enamored by the colorful lupin displays, particularly on the South Island. While the lupin is an invasive species of plant, the colorful bouquets that blossom in November are simply spectacular.

New Zealand in November has it all; smaller crowds, dramatic sunsets, and of course, roaring waterfalls!
New Zealand in November has it all; smaller crowds, dramatic sunsets, and of course, roaring waterfalls!

November is also the best month for waterfall chasers. Previous spring showers and snow thaw will get the cascades really roaring this time of year.

As students are in school, adults are at work, and foreigners have not yet hit winter holidays, this month tends to see some of the smallest crowd sizes as well!

Finally, wildlife will be highly active this time of year as the air becomes abuzz with spring fever.

Spring fever gets the wildlife excited in New Zealand in November.
Spring fever gets the wildlife excited in New Zealand in November.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in November

Again, we strongly feel that November is the best month to visit New Zealand. There are no truly compelling reasons to avoid this time of year. However, if you’d like to hike Roys Peak, the track remains closed for lambing until Nov 10th. Therefore, plan to get to Wanaka after this date.

NZ National Holidays & Events in November

“Remember, Remember the 5th of November” – While not as popular as it is in London (where the event originates), Guy Fawkes’ Night is a somewhat-celebrated event in New Zealand in November. Again, only the biggest cities are likely to have much going on, but if you look for something locally you may be able to find an event worth attending.

Best Time to Visit New Zealand:
New Zealand in Summer

Summer is the best time to visit New Zealand if you want to spend time on the beach!
Summer is the best time to visit New Zealand if you want to spend time on the beach!

As in most places, summer in New Zealand is considered peak season, which means you will be fighting crowds for parking, accommodation, and just general space. This is not usually too problematic, but those who plan on camping (whether in camp sites or camper vans) will have to carefully factor this into their itineraries as space is incredibly limited for these options. Summer is also a popular time for many of the great hikes in New Zealand, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Be aware that there is very little ozone left in Oceania to protect you from the sun. While the temperatures may not be incredibly high, your UV exposure is! Summer in New Zealand is famous for surprising tourists with a “7 minute burn.”

When is Summer in New Zealand?

Summer in New Zealand is considered to span from December – March. Temperatures range from mild-hot, but the sun is extremely potent here due to the large hole in the ozone layer that would usually filter the UV rays. So make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen (we love this eco-friendly, reef-safe sunscreen).

New Zealand in December

The first week of December is still among the best times to visit New Zealand. However, once school holidays have begun in mid-December, the crowds begin to grow exponentially. If at all possible, we recommend attempting to rearrange your plans for a November visit.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in December

North Island
Avg. low 11°c (51°F)
Avg. high 23°c (74°F)

South Island
Avg. low 7°c (45°F)
Avg. high 22°c (73°F)

December is a dry month with pleasant daytime temperatures. The nights get chilly in most places, but would not require more than a sweater or jacket.

New Zealand Tourism in December

194,522 International Visitors in 2019
11th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in December

New Zealand in December means clear sunny days and 7-minute sunburns!
New Zealand in December means clear sunny days and 7-minute sunburns!

For many travelers from the Northern Hemisphere, celebrating a summer Christmas is a bucket list item. The summer climate in New Zealand is as pleasant as it gets, and you can count on the weather in December more than most other months in NZ.

In addition, the lupins and summer wildflowers will usually still be thriving. They may not be at peak color, but they will still be around for most of the month!

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in December

The beginning of December is quiet, but, you should expect to encounter larger crowds at the end of the month once holiday breaks have begun.

If you are going to visit New Zealand in December, aim for the beginning of the month. Toward the end, you can expect crowded campsites, trails, and plenty of tour buses!

NZ National Holidays & Events in December

As in most (all?) Western cultures, the biggest holidays celebrated in December in New Zealand are Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve. This may be obvious to most of you reading, but Americans likely have no idea what Boxing Day is, and Asian readers may not know what to expect from any of these, so we’ll discuss them a bit below.

Christmas is on December 25th and is a massive family holiday. Whereas the Northern Hemisphere thinks of the day as snowy and “jolly”, it is summer in New Zealand! Instead, you will usually find large gatherings of friends and family hosting BBQs and hitting the beaches. You’ll also notice the Christmas Tree is not the evergreen you are used to, but a red-flowered tree called a pohutukawa tree.

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas (December 26th) and is celebrated much the same way as Christmas. Most things will be closed both days, so be prepared. The biggest difference between the two is that Christmas tends to be more of a family holiday, while Boxing Day tends to be more of a social gathering.

New Year’s Eve is celebrated on December 31st in western cultures, and is a lot of fun! Expect fireworks, parties, packed bars, and all-night celebrations. Most cities will have some kind of celebration, but Auckland’s is the biggest.

New Zealand in January

January in New Zealand is one of the busiest months to be there, so finding isolation requires longer hikes!
January in New Zealand is one of the busiest months to be there, so finding isolation requires longer hikes!

January is the third-busiest month to visit New Zealand, and I would generally recommend choosing February for a summer visit if possible. However, the weather is nice and reliable this time of year, and the majority of the summer music festivals take place in January.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in January

North Island
Avg. low 12°c (53°F)
Avg. high 25°c (76°F)

South Island
Avg. low 10°c (50°F)
Avg. high 25°c (76°F)

Much like December, January tends to be dry and warm.

New Zealand Tourism in January

320,945 International Visitors in 2019
3rd busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in January

While ice cold in England, January in New Zealand is perfect!
While ice cold in England, January in New Zealand is perfect!

We do not consider January to be the best time to visit New Zealand, but there are a few advantages. As it is the peak of summer, weather is good and generally dry.

The best reason to visit New Zealand in January, however, is for the summer music festivals! New Zealand boasts an amazing music scene, and January has a variety of festivals throughout both islands that are worth factoring into your itinerary.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in January

The primary reason not to visit New Zealand in January is that you are dealing with one of the busiest months for tourism. This means higher prices, fewer accommodation options, as well as packed trails and parking lots.

Additionally, the New Zealand school summer holidays continue through to the end of January. Therefore, you can also expect a higher number of local tourists to further crowd things!

NZ National Holidays & Events in January

Technically, the only public holiday in January is New Year Day on January 1. Don’t expect anything but hangovers and store closures for that, though.

However, the biggest advantage of visiting New Zealand in January is the amazing music festivals going on throughout the country. Rather than list them all, simply do some research for music festivals in the area you expect to be visiting and see if any line up with your travels!

New Zealand in February

The weather and climate remain mostly unchanged from January to February, but there is one crucial advantage in scheduling your visit in February instead; the number of monthly visitors drops almost in half. In fact, February is the least busy month of the year!

Enjoy the perks of summer with smaller crowds by visiting New Zealand in February.
Enjoy the perks of summer with smaller crowds by visiting New Zealand in February.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in February

North Island
Avg. low 13°c (55°F)
Avg. high 24°c (75°F)

South Island
Avg. low 9°c (48°F)
Avg. high 24°c (75°F)

Keeping in mind these are only averages, but you can see that the temperatures for February in New Zealand are pretty close to ideal.

New Zealand Tourism in February

190,597 International Visitors in 2019
The least busy month of the year!

Why visit New Zealand in February

We actually think that February is the second-best month to visit New Zealand. The primary reason for that is the low tourism numbers combined with the summer weather. Beyond that, you will often find much cheaper airfare in February than the other summer months.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in February

Because of how strong the sun is here, 75°F and sunny can feel a lot hotter than you would expect. Avoiding sunburn is difficult, especially if you want to enjoy some of the better and longer hikes. Also, you will have missed a lot of the best summer festivals and wildflowers with a February visit.

NZ National Holidays & Events in February

Our favorite local New Zealand holiday is in February, and that is Waitangi day. This is a day that the invading British and native Maori people came to a truce and signed New Zealand’s founding document. The Maori people are the only civilization to never surrender to the British Crown, and their culture and heritage are still proudly celebrated throughout the country.

If you are visiting New Zealand in February, make an effort to research events local to your location. Better yet, arrange your itinerary to include a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands (North Island), where the official celebration occurs!

In addition to Waitangi Day, there are also some summer music festivals you may be able to catch in February, though most of the biggest ones take place in January.

Best Time to Visit New Zealand:
New Zealand in Autumn

Golden colors decorate the landscape of New Zealand in autumn.
Golden colors decorate the landscape of New Zealand in autumn.

Autumn is a pleasant season anywhere in the world, and some would argue it’s the best time to visit New Zealand. While we still give that distinction to spring, a case could be made for visiting during this shoulder season.

For one, the average visitors over the three months of Autumn are the fewest of any season, meaning smaller crowds and cheaper prices. In addition, the weather is generally mild still and the colors can be quite striking!

When is Autumn in New Zealand?

Autumn in New Zealand is from March until May. While there is some color change in the foliage, visitors should expect mostly a green to yellow transition with very few oranges, red, purples, and otherwise dramatic autumn colors. With that said, there are some trees like the nikau palms that do get some bright red flowering.

The fall season (known as autumn in NZ) hits peak foliage in mid April and has a very short window.

New Zealand in March

While technically the autumn season, March in New Zealand feels more like a summer/spring hybrid. Temperatures are still moderate, storms and overcast skies are more frequent, and the crowds have thinned out.

March is the 3rd slowest month for tourism, which makes it a good option for shoulder-season travel.

Expect dramatic and unpredictable weather if visiting New Zealand in March.
Expect dramatic and unpredictable weather if visiting New Zealand in March.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in March

North Island
Avg. low 10°c (50°F)
Avg. high 22°c (73°F)

South Island
Avg. low 6°c (43°F)
Avg. high 21°c (70°F)

March is still mild during the days, but the nights start to get chilly again, particularly on the South Island.

New Zealand Tourism in March

194,989 International Visitors in 2019
10th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in March

March is a good time to visit New Zealand for finding cheaper airfare and lower prices for gas and accommodation. As February and March are two of the quietest months of the year, you are less likely to struggle with crowd-based issues, such as finding parking or booking affordable accommodation.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in March

The only real reason to avoid visiting New Zealand in March is that you are still some weeks out from the fall foliage. If the option exists to delay your arrival until April, you will have most of the same benefits of a March visit but the added benefit of some beautiful autumn colors.

NZ National Holidays & Events in March

To our knowledge, there are no notable events in New Zealand in March!

New Zealand in April

April in New Zealand is an amazing time to capture that beautiful autumn color at Mt Cook.
April in New Zealand is an amazing time to capture that beautiful autumn color.

April is the busiest month of the autumn season in New Zealand, but it is still relatively quiet. Temperatures are comfortable during the day but get chilly to cold at night depending on the exact location. Most notably, April is when you should expect peak foliage in New Zealand, which is not as dramatic as some global destinations but is certainly beautiful!

New Zealand Average Temperatures in April

North Island
Avg. low 7°c (45°F)
Avg. high 20°c (68°F)

South Island
Avg. low 4°c (39°F)
Avg. high 18°c (65°F)

Nights begin to get pretty cold by April, especially at higher elevations. The days are comfortable when there is no wind chill, but that is rare this time of year in New Zealand!

New Zealand Tourism in April

243,302 International Visitors in 2019
7th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in April

The primary reason to visit New Zealand in April is for the leaves! New Zealand has a lot of greenery, much of which will transform to brilliant shades of yellow and golden during peak foliage in April.

Greens turn to gold in New Zealand in April.
Greens turn to gold in New Zealand in April.

It is also still the shoulder season. Though it will be mildly busier than March, it is still in the bottom half of the list in terms of tourism by month. This will mean smaller crowds and cheaper prices in many places you plan on exploring!

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in April

April is probably third on our list of best time to visit New Zealand, as there are really no compelling reasons not to visit around this time. The weather is a bit colder and wetter than the only two months that rank ahead of it (November and February), and the crowds are also a bit larger. The schools usually have their autumn breaks for 2 weeks in mid-April, so these two weeks can be busier with local tourists. Accordingly, it is a good time to visit but the aforementioned months are just slightly better.

NZ National Holidays & Events in April

The two major holidays that New Zealand celebrates in April are Easter (and the holy days) and ANZAC Day.

The date of Easter varies each year, but is usually within the first two weeks of April. Rarely, it is at the end of March. This is mostly a family event and not one you would expect to find any public celebrations for, though the bigger cities may provide something. Mostly, you should plan for a lot of establishments to be closed for the entire weekend.

ANZAC Day is a celebration of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. This is a highly revered day and one that you should absolutely take part in if you are visiting New Zealand in April. Particularly, find a local bar and participate in a traditional game of “Two-Up,” a gambling game that is legal ONLY on ANZAC Day! It’s basically gambling on coin flips, so you’re always 50/50, but the house wins with all the beer sales… on that topic, make sure to buy a veteran a “thank you beer” if you win!

New Zealand in May

This beautiful, golden landscape was taken on an autumn day in New Zealand in May.
This beautiful, golden landscape was taken on an autumn day in New Zealand in May.

The best time to visit New Zealand in May is at the very beginning of the month. If you can arrive in the first or second week, you will still get some fading autumn foliage, decent weather, and all the perks that come from visiting during a shoulder season.

By the end of the month, however, most of those things have changed. Summer breaks hit the northern hemisphere, prompting an influx in visitors. The temperatures begin to drop, especially at night. And, of course, the leaves will have mostly fallen by then. As they say, winter is coming!

New Zealand Average Temperatures in May

North Island
Avg. low 5°c (42°F)
Avg. high 18°c (64°F)

South Island
Avg. low 1°c (35°F)
Avg. high 15°c (60°F)

May is still relatively dry most years, but begins to get colder, particularly on the South Island.

New Zealand Tourism in May

235,169 International Visitors in 2019
8th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in May

Capturing the last of the autumn color on a May visit to New Zealand.
Capturing the last of the autumn color on a May visit to New Zealand.

The BEGINNING of May is actually one of the best times to visit New Zealand. The autumn leaves will still have some color, tourism has not yet spiked, and the temperatures are still comfortable.

Basically, you get all the perks of a shoulder season visit, as well as some festive foliage!

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in May

Once summer holidays begin in the northern hemisphere, New Zealand sees a massive influx in foreign visitors. Typically, this begins in mid-to-late May. In addition to dealing with larger crowds, you will have missed the nice autumn colors by weeks or even just a few days. You may also have missed out on some cheaper tours and accommodations as well.

NZ National Holidays & Events in May

To our knowledge, there are no national holidays or noteworthy events going on in May.

Best Time to Visit New Zealand:
New Zealand in Winter

Winter in New Zealand can be harsh but beautiful.
Winter in New Zealand can be harsh but beautiful.

For the snowboarding or skiing enthusiasts, winter is the best time to visit New Zealand. For most other people, it is (arguably) the worst. We loved visiting New Zealand in the winter for one primary reason; photographing the aurora australis!

Because winter in New Zealand is summer in the northern hemisphere (where the majority of the world population resides), a lot of people are traveling to the islands. In addition, Australians also plan more trips to their neighboring country to take advantage of the fantastic snow sports.

Towards the end of the month, snow is more regular in the mountains, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on the reason for your visit. If planning a winter visit to New Zealand, you will need to keep an eye on forecasts and trail closures.

While battling inclement weather and larger crowds is not very appealing, there are still plenty of good reasons to visits New Zealand in winter. Photographers will love the snow capped mountains and moody atmosphere in many of the more popular destinations, snow enthusiasts will obviously love the fresh powder, and astrophotographers know this time of year as “Milky Way season!”

Winter is the best time to visit New Zealand for Milky Way, Night Sky, and astrophotographers.
Winter is the best time to visit New Zealand for Milky Way, Night Sky, and astrophotographers.

When is Winter in New Zealand?

Winter in New Zealand spans the months of June through August, usually creeping into September in the South Island.

New Zealand in June

If you are planning a winter visit to New Zealand, June is probably the best month to go. While it is peak season, the visitor count is not as high as it will be in July and August.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in June

North Island
Avg. low 4°c (39°F)
Avg. high 15°c (60°F)

South Island
Avg. low 1°c (33°F)
Avg. high 12°c (54°F)

June is still reasonable in most places, though the South Island will begin to see more rapidly dropping temperatures than the North. Towards the end of the month, rain and snowfall is common.

New Zealand Tourism in June

257,310 International Visitors in 2019
6th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in June

The beginning of June tends to still have a lot of clear days in most of New Zealand, but the rain and snow usually begins to arrive towards the end. If the snow appeals to you, crowds will be slightly smaller in June than in July.

If you are a photographer hoping to shoot some night sky and Milky Way photography, you have a better chance at getting clear nights in June than you will in July.

June in New Zealand is the best month for Milky Way photography.
June in New Zealand is the best month for Milky Way photography.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in June

Basically, all the reasons for not visiting in the winter apply to the end of June. That is, higher prices during peak season, larger crowds, and worse weather.

NZ National Holidays & Events in June

The Queen’s Birthday is a national holiday that is celebrated on the first Sunday of June. In addition to a lot of places closing up for the day, this also marks the official opening of ski season in New Zealand.

Aside from that, look for some international All Black rugby matches as there are a couple in June! This country loves their rugby!

New Zealand in July

Expect lots of snowy landscapes on a July visit to New Zealand.
Expect lots of snowy landscapes on a July visit to New Zealand.

July is the busiest month of the year to visit New Zealand. Between the snow bums on a ski weekend, the Europeans road tripping the country, and the locals enjoying winter breaks, the country gets absolutely crowded.

July is also the wettest month of the year, which is great for snow but not ideal for other forms of tourism.

Pack warm, waterproof layers and expect extremely high prices on pretty much everything if you planning on visiting New Zealand in July!

New Zealand Average Temperatures in July

North Island
Avg. low 2°c (35°F)
Avg. high 14°c (58°F)

South Island
Avg. low -2°c (28°F)
Avg. high 13°c (55°F)

July is both the wettest and coldest month of the year in New Zealand. These conditions make for some great snow sports, but they make general travel and sightseeing a bit more arduous.

New Zealand Tourism in July

340,250 International Visitors in 2019
THE busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in July

The main reason to visit New Zealand in July is to go skiing or snowboarding. It is also a beautiful place with some snow, especially the South Island.

As with any of the winter months, this is your best chance at witnessing the rare Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). For us, this was the primary reason for a July visit.

If you can get clear skies and check forecasts, one of the best months to visit New Zealand for aurora chasers is July.
If you can get clear skies and check forecasts, one of the best months to visit New Zealand for aurora chasers is July.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in July

The snow can result in closed roads or trails, and the frequent rainfall makes for pretty tough touring and photography.

I would also avoid visiting New Zealand in July due to the massive crowds, frequent tour buses, and price hikes that come with being there during the busiest month of the year. The New Zealand schools have a two week winter break in the middle of July which further adds to increased crowds.

NZ National Holidays & Events in July

There are no major events in New Zealand in July, though the All Blacks rugby team will likely have some international matches. It would be worth finding a pub to watch them and interact with some rowdy locals.

For the Americans reading this, the 4th of July is not celebrated as that is YOUR independence day… we know that seems obvious to some of you, but that question came up a lot during our travels. There is a caveat though; as New Zealand and Australia are popular destinations for US backpackers, many of the hostels and local pubs will put together some special drinking events. Think of it like a US version of St Patrick’s Day.

New Zealand in August

Snowy mountains and crystal clear air define August in New Zealand.
Snowy mountains and crystal-clear air define August in New Zealand.

Visiting New Zealand in August will be very similar to visiting in July, but with a slight decrease in visitors. Expect some snow if you are visiting the mountains, especially on the South Island, large crowds, lots of tour buses, and limited parking/accommodation.

New Zealand Average Temperatures in August

North Island
Avg. low 4°c (39°F)
Avg. high 15°c (59°F)

South Island
Avg. low -1°c (30°F)
Avg. high 13°c (55°F)

August is the middle of winter in New Zealand, so you should expect a fair amount of precipitation and cold temperatures.

New Zealand Tourism in August

284,520 International Visitors in 2019
4th busiest month of the year

Why visit New Zealand in August

If you want to visit New Zealand in the winter, August is better all around than June or July. You still have snow sports available if you’re into that, Milky Ways, and as good of a chance as you’ll get for the aurora australis. All this plus slightly smaller crowds and less precipitation than you would receive in late June and July.

Reasons NOT to visit New Zealand in August

Variable weather, cold temperatures, and big crowds.

NZ National Holidays & Events in August

There are no notable events in August, with the exception of more All Black rugby matches that may be worth watching with some locals!

Other Helpful New Zealand Guides

Now that you’ve had a chance to consider WHEN is the best time to visit New Zealand, you’ll need to decide WHERE to go and HOW to get there.

If you have found this guide useful or inspiring, you will definitely want to bookmark some of our other New Zealand travel guides.

The BEST South Island New Zealand Map

We know claiming that this is the BEST map is a big claim, but we truly believe this is the best and only South Island New Zealand map you’ll ever need! We have pinned about 150 points of interest, basically every one that we know of, and uploaded our personal photos taken at each.

During our extensive time living and traveling around the South Island of New Zealand, we focused primarily on finding places of photographic interest… and we found a LOT of them!

Bookmark this map and use it as a reference while planning the rest of your New Zealand travels.

New Zealand Landscape Photography & Hidden Gems

This not an extensive list of landscape photography locations (see the New Zealand map above for that) but rather a guide to our FAVORITE New Zealand Landscape Photography Destinations and Hidden Gems.

In this guide, we showcase some of our favorite places to photograph on the South Island, provide photography tips, and reveal some of the hidden gems most other guides don’t mention. We promise you’ve never seen photos from #11 🙂

Final Thoughts on the Best Time to Visit New Zealand

As landscape photographers, each month and season provides a different argument for being the best time to visit New Zealand.
As landscape photographers, each month and season provides a different argument for being the best time to visit New Zealand.

There you have it; everything you need to know to decide what YOU consider the best time to visit New Zealand!

Do you agree with our opinion that November is the best month to visit New Zealand? Or that spring is the best season to visit New Zealand?

Is there something we haven’t considered that you think we should include in our breakdown?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!! We promise to read and respond to everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts!!

Enjoyed this guide to the Best Time to Visit New Zealand? PIN IT! 🙂

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12 Comments

  1. Raksha
    May 17, 2020 / 2:17 am

    This is such an extensive guide for when to visit NZ. NZ is one of my favourite countries and I visit it almost every year. And even though winters is not ideal, I love NZ in winters with the snow capped mountains.

    • May 18, 2020 / 8:43 pm

      Thank you! Yes the winter does bring its own magic. We loved spending the winter there!

  2. May 17, 2020 / 2:48 am

    Excellent job covering the pluses and minuses of each season. I agree, November is a great month, but and we often encourage our visitors to come in March as well.

    • May 19, 2020 / 10:14 am

      Absolutely! March is definitely a beautiful time of year to visit too! Although I don’t think there’s really a “wrong” month to visit New Zealand, but there’ll certainly be some challenges at certain times.

  3. May 17, 2020 / 3:36 am

    There’s talk about an trans-oceanic bubble opening up after lockdown and so as someone who has been in Australia, I cant wait ti jump on a plane to New Zeland as soon as I can. This has been super useful reading and is getting me quite excited!

    • May 19, 2020 / 10:02 am

      Oh that’s brilliant news! I hope you’re able to make it over there. It’s such a beautiful place (though I love Australia too!).

  4. Vanessa Shields
    May 17, 2020 / 5:38 pm

    What a beautiful and informative post! I’d love to visit New Zealand as it looks like a nature and outdoor lover’s dream! I had no idea there were Southern lights! That is so cool to learn there are opportunities to see them. I think I’d enjoy visiting in November to see the lupin bloom!

    • May 19, 2020 / 9:50 am

      Thank you! It really is a dream for anyone that loves the outdoors. The southern lights are incredible if you’re fortunate enough to see them. I’ve yet to see the full on lupin bloom but it looks AMAZING, definitely worth going there then to see them 🙂

  5. May 17, 2020 / 7:35 pm

    This is a fabulous, comprehensive post about timing your visit here. And your photos are stunning.

  6. Kristina Ziegler
    August 2, 2020 / 12:08 am

    What is the situation for astrophotography in September in New Zealand? Is August better?

    • August 2, 2020 / 8:09 am

      Hi Kristina! I assume you are inquiring more specifically to Milky Way photography? Either way, August will be better as the nights are longer and therefore provide more time for photographing the night skies. The Milky Way core is also slightly higher in the sky in August, giving a bit more time to shoot before it has set. September is also a fine month, but your MW windows will be a bit tighter.

      Hope that helps 🙂

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**All photos contained in this photography-based travel blog are copyright of Adam Marland & Sophie Clapton. 
They are not to be used for any purpose without the expressed, written consent of their owners.**