Climate / Best Time to Travel
Pack a sunhat and raincoat and you'll be right!..
New Zealand has a mild, temperate climate with few weather extremes where living without air conditioning is comfortable and it is possible to farm animals outdoor year round. Our islands lie remotely in the South Pacific Ocean, with 95% of the population living within half an hour's drive from the sea.
Few areas are more than 100km from the coast. This means we experience the usual changeability of a maritime climate and it is worth noting in your clothing preparations that relatively high humidity can result in small temperature changes being quite noticeable. As locals we're accustomed to the cheerful philosophy that, when outdoors, if you carry a sunhat and a raincoat you should be OK. Statistically, it is likely that you will encounter at least one wet day during visits of a week or more at any time of the year. However, it is also quite possible to experience several weeks with or without rain at any time of the year! While it is advisable to bring clothing for all seasons during any visit you can generally expect the best weather during our summer months of December to March and, in most areas, wetter weather during the June to Aug / Sept winter months. One of the advantages of choosing to travel by campervan is that inconvenience is minimized during any rainfall.
Our weather arrives from the Tasman Sea to our west, so the west coast is wetter than the east. Some southern stretches of the west coast receive phenomenal rainfall (up to 12m annually) and are positively spectacular if you visit during a rainstorm. In contrast, inland regions of the south/central South Island are the only areas in the country blessed by a continental climate, where months can pass without precipitation and our temperature extremes of -22 to +42 degrees have been recorded. In the North Island by summer you can expect temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees and up to 30 on warm days. By winter 12 to 17 degrees is usual, less during cooler periods, with occasional overnight frosts. In the South Island expect similar summertime temperatures, with warm days rising into the 30's. During winter the South Island is about five degrees cooler than the North, with snow occasionally providing a pretty picture to low altitudes and even sea level. Overnight temperatures often drop below freezing with some areas receiving as many as 150 frosts per year, making for brilliant crisp, clear days.
Ocean temperatures range from 22 degrees during the northern summer months to eight degrees during winter in the south.
Summer months bring the spectacle of coastal native Pohutukawa trees in brilliant crimson blossom, harbors full of yachts and generally stable weather ideal for outdoor activities. This results in the October / November until February / March period being the most popular time to visit, with the locals also on holiday over Christmas and throughout January.
Autumn brings quieter times and often continuing good weather, with some areas presenting an artist's palette of colour. Winter can also bring good weather, especially in the south, and usually provides good skiing on uncrowded slopes. Springtime's millions of bouncing lambs in fields where the grass grows up to a centimeter daily are guaranteed to provide a smile, and gardens radiate the glow of nature which makes our land so special.
More info: Current Weather Forecasts
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