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Best Time of Year to Visit New Zealand

Explore > Travel Planning Articles > Best Time of Year to Visit New Zealand

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About the author, Michael Cottam

Founder of Visual Itineraries, Michael lives in Bend, Oregon. He's an avid traveler, scuba diver, photographer, and a private pilot, and also the founder of Bright Yonder. He's been to Fiji, Thailand, Vietnam, Seychelles, Kenya, France, England, New Zealand, Jamaica, Belize, Costa Rica, Turks & Caicos, British Virgin Islands, Mexico, and the major islands in French Polynesia.

He's been a Rotarian for 21 years, currently on the board of the Greater Bend Rotary Club.

Follow Michael on LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.

When's the best time of year to visit New Zealand?

The best time of year to visit New Zealand depends on what you're going for. If you're a skier, ski season starts in early June and runs through late October. If you're looking to enjoy hiking, camping, swimming, etc., their summer runs from December through February.

Lake Hawea, South Island of New Zealand, from the mountains between Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka

TRAVEL SPECIAL: Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau

Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau 5 nights from 410 per person
Kingsgate Hotel Te AnauA luxury hotel with breathtaking views of Lake Te Anau

Set amidst beautiful nature, Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau overlooks majestic mountains and lakes, and lets you discover the region’s breathtaking natural wonders.

From our hotel, you can explore the cliffs and waterfalls, cruise deep within the Fiordland into Milford Sound, traverse across the mysterious Manapouri Lake, or get lost in the magical Glowworm Caves. Featuring 94 modern guest rooms, with double beds and adjoining rooms for families, a stay at our hotel in Te Anau lets you discover the pristine beauty of this New Zealand region and so much more.

Dine in Jimmy Cook's Kiwi Kitchen overlooking mountain-lake views, perfect for a hearty breakfast at sunrise or dinner at sundown. Stay and feel at home with our distinctive hospitality.

Learn more about Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau

Daily housekeeping
Breakfast available
Reception fireplace
Front desk safe
Self-serve laundry
Conference space
Meeting room
Luggage storage
Limited hour front desk
Tour/ticket assistance

New Zealand's latitude ranges from about -37 degrees to -47 degrees, roughly equivalent to the area from San Francisco to Seattle in the northern hemisphere.

However, because most of the country is relatively close to the ocean, you don't find quite as much of a temperature range in general.

The weather can change pretty quickly, though, as cold fronts or tropical cyclones move across the region.

The southern island has a climate similar to that of Oregon, whereas the northern island is more sub-tropical. Rainfall levels are high, ranging from about 25 inches/year to 60 inches/year.

  Thick fog at Auckland Airport early one winter (June) morning
Thick fog at Auckland Airport early one June morning.

To compare all resorts in New Zealand, click here.

See our complete list of travel specials for New Zealand.

TRAVEL SPECIAL: Commodore Airport Hotel

Commodore Airport Hotel 5 nights from 690 per person
Commodore Airport HotelThe Commodore Airport Hotel offers stylish airport accommodation only three minutes drive from the airport and ten minutes from central Christchurch.

We're a family-owned business with an international name. We pride ourselves on delivering a genuine accommodation experience with guests known by their names, not just their room numbers.

Enjoy a relaxing stay in our idyllic award-winning native New Zealand gardens on seven acres of land. The hotel features 157 guest accommodation rooms, conference and meeting facilities and extensive free parking. Our 24/7 free shuttle service to and from our airport hotel makes getting to the hotel a breeze.
Learn more about Commodore Airport Hotel

Daily housekeeping
Restaurant and bar/lounge
Indoor pool
Breakfast available
Free airport shuttle
Outdoor tennis court
Fitness center
24-hour room service
Business center
24-hour front desk

Typical airfares from LAX

Airfares vary by season, but also day of week, and are definitely affected by holidays. The chart above shows the typical minimum and maximum fares for a economy class ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Auckland, NZ (AKL), by month.

TRAVEL SPECIAL: Bay Plaza Hotel Wellington

Bay Plaza Hotel Wellington 5 nights from 430 per person
Bay Plaza Hotel WellingtonA warm welcome to one of Wellington's best-loved hotels in New Zealand's exciting harbour capital. Bay Plaza Hotel 40-44 Oriental Parade, Wellington.
Can there be a better quality yet affordable place to experience Wellington's wonders?

Just a short drive to the airport, rail and ferry terminals – and a very short walk to explore the vibrant waterfront, city bays and beaches, the incredible national museum Te Papa, top shops, weekend gourmet food market and the entertainment zone filled with the city's best bars, restaurants and cafes. Working in the central business district? Be there in minutes by taxi, bus or a delightful walk along the waterfront.

Love the look out
Views from every window of the city, harbour or historic homes of Mt Victoria will wow you. On the inside, you'll equally love our beautiful décor, smart clean rooms and the professional, friendly service that means we get many return guests.

Have a sustainable stay
We look after you and the planet. The Bay Plaza Hotel has long been dedicated to sustainable tourism, with recycling, water-wise and beach clean-up initiatives that have proudly earned us Earthcheck benchmarking, a Qualmark 3 Star Plus rating and Qualmark Enviro-Silver.

Our restaurant serves market-fresh, creative New Zealand cuisine for you to enjoy. Choose from the wide range of options on our menus, which feature delicious meals designed to please every palate. With first-floor windows looking out to Wellington Harbour, this is a very special spot to meet friends or family, dine alone, host a business lunch, or take a date.

Take some time out and relax over drinks in our friendly house bar. Enjoy a range of food and beverages including cocktails, fine wines and premium beers, served with a smile day or night. You can continue at the famous bars and clubs in Courtenay Place just a short walk away – known as not only the best place to party in Wellington, but also New Zealand.
Learn more about Bay Plaza Hotel Wellington

Daily housekeeping
Near the beach
Restaurant and bar/lounge
Breakfast available
Self parking
24-hour room service
24-hour business center
Business center
2 meeting rooms
24-hour front desk
Front-desk safe

Rainbow over Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown
Rainbow over Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown harbor.

Most of New Zealand averages over 2000 hours of sunshine a year.

This, plus the fact that there's very little air pollution, means that the UV rays are quite strong in the summer months.

Seasons in New Zealand

Spring September to November
Summer December to February
Fall March to May
Winter July to August

TRAVEL SPECIAL: Hotel Ibis Rotorua

Hotel Ibis Rotorua 5 nights from 515 per person
Hotel Ibis RotoruaIbis Rotorua is located on the shores of Lake Rotorua. The hotel features 145 rooms, a restaurant, bar and Internet access. The city centre is only a short walk away, offering easy access to the convention centre, Energy Event Centre, cafes and restaurants. Conference rooms and other facilities at the neighbouring Novotel Rotorua Lakeside are also available to guests.
Learn more about Hotel Ibis Rotorua

In-room Internet Access
Ensuite Bathroom
Ensuite Bathroom with Separate Shower
Iron and Ironing board
Mosquito nets
Pay-Per-View Movies
Air Conditioning


Ski Season in New Zealand

Ski season in New Zealand starts in early June and runs through late October.

The best-known ski areas are near Queenstown and the incredible Remarkables mountains and Lake Wanaka.

This area is noted for spectacular scenery, a wide variety of terrain and types of trails, and popular resorts.

On the North Island, there's the Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas, perched on the active volcano of Mt Ruapehu.

  Helicopter against the backdrop of the Remarkables, near Queenstown
Helicopter against the backdrop of the Remarkables, near Queenstown.

TRAVEL SPECIAL: Stamford Plaza Auckland

Stamford Plaza Auckland 5 nights from 860 per person
Stamford Plaza Auckland
Learn more about Stamford Plaza Auckland

Housekeeping (on request)
Restaurant and bar/lounge
Indoor pool
Breakfast available
24-hour fitness center
Valet parking
Spa tub
24-hour room service
Business center
8 meeting rooms
24-hour front desk

Looking down on Queenstown from the top of the Skyline gondola
Looking down on Queenstown from the top of the Skyline gondola.

New Zealand Wine-Tasting

The country has become very well-known for its wines, especially its sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs.

Wine tastings are available in tourist areas throughout the year.

Harvest time for the vineyards typically starts in February, with some late-harvest types being picked as late as June in the Otago area.

Queenstown Wine Trail offers sight-seeing and wine-tasting year-round, visiting many of the premier vineyards and wineries in the Otago/Queenstown region.

Hunting and Hiking in New Zealand

Really, the weather extremes are not so extreme--it's a pleasant place to hike and explore the outdoors year-round.

Hunting is popular, especially for the incredible red stag--one of 7 types of deer introduced to New Zealand about 150 years ago by European settlers (who failed to consider the fact that New Zealand has no predators other than a small hawk).

Deer hunting season is officially from February through September, however, the rut (when the biggest stags are available) is during the rut, from late March through late April.

  Stalking red stag at Glen Dene Station, on the shores of Lake Hawea, South Island
Stalking red stag at Glen Dene Station, on the shores of Lake Hawea, South Island.

TRAVEL SPECIAL: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Heartland Hotel Queenstown 5 nights from 730 per person
Heartland Hotel QueenstownHeartland Hotel Queenstown will charm you with its distinctive design and friendly service. Close to all the action of this bustling resort town, you'll also love this Queenstown hotel's elevated position that provides spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu and the mountains.

A soft refurbishment of the guest rooms at Heartland Hotel Queenstown has recently been completed. This includes an upgrade of beds including new bedding, interior painting, installation of flat screen TVs, air-conditioning, double glazing/hush glass to all road frontage rooms.

Heartland Hotels prides itself on extending genuine, friendly Kiwi hospitality to every guest who comes through our doors, with a range of uniquely styled properties, we are able to cater to each individual traveller's taste and budget, so whether you're travelling on business or enjoying a well-earned holiday look no further than Heartland Hotels. Enjoy great value, and genuine comfort with a stay in our friendly 100% NZ owned hotels. Heartland Hotels can offer you an environment to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Learn more about Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Free parking
Free WiFi
Ski facilities


How we work with you to plan the perfect trip:

  • We'll talk with you to find out what you're looking for, what you like/don't like, etc.
  • We'll use our first-hand knowledge of the destination to pick out a handful of resorts we think you'd like
  • We'll create a custom mini website for you, with photos, videos, maps, etc. of the resorts we are recommending
  • We'll follow up with you to help you make your decision
  • We'll go to work with our suppliers to get you the best deal available on what you've decided on.

Map of Hotels and Resorts in New Zealand