Misty Wairarapa Hills, North Island
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9 New Zealand weather mistakes

New Zealand weather is extremely variable and easy to misjudge.

Often described as having ‘four seasons in one day’ part of this country’s charm is its unique climate. From hot and sunny one minute to cold and blustery the next, when you're travelling down under you need to come prepared. Here are nine common weather mistakes, and how you can avoid them.

New Zealand weather

  1. Thinking your weather app or the weather report will be right. New Zealand is made up of islands in the world's biggest ocean; it’s much harder to get an accurate weather reading. Chances are, your home country is a much larger landmass - so you’re accustomed to a higher level of accuracy. Bottom line: if the weather report predicts rain, there's a good chance it's wrong.

  2. Not bringing layers. Snow in one place, subtropical temperatures the next. Raining in the morning, crystal clear skies in the afternoon. New Zealand is renowned not only for landscape extremes - that ‘four-seasons-in-one-day’ thing again. Bring layers!

  3. Thinking the sun isn't strong. Our ozone is weaker than yours. That's a fact. So, unless you want to leave with a rather spectacular red t-shirt mark, wear sunscreen. Keep those rays away with factor 50 SPF, even when it’s overcast.

  4. Not taking a waterproof jacket everywhere you go. Remember what we said about the weather app/report? Even if it’s fine, even if there isn't a cloud in the sky, take a rain jacket on your day trip. Don't say we didn't warn you. Take a jacket.

  5. Forgetting your insect repellent. Okay, this one isn't really weather. But it’s a mistake so often made, we just had to include it. It’s particularly essential if you’re travelling down the spectacular West Coast - home of the notorious sand-fly or midge. Bring DEET. You don't want to be sightseeing from your coach at every stop along the way.

  6. Not wearing sunglasses. As we said, New Zealand sun is harsh. Which translates into glarey (yes we know ‘glarey’ isn't a word). But you get what we mean. Protect your peepers with sunglasses at all times - especially near the water.

  7. Sunbathing with oil on your skin. We know, we’re harping on about the sun quite a lot. But bear with us, it really is strong! Sunbathing with oil may be a quick tanning solution in other countries, but here it’s a one-way ticket to blisters. Sunscreen. Enough said.

  8. Not fitting chains in the snow.  Something your coach driver will have covered... But if you're here in winter and you're headed for a snowy mountain pass make sure you’ve got chains in the back to get over the pass safely. Despite what we said about the weatherman being wrong when they say it's going to snow, it is very likely to snow. Ask for chains when you hire your car.

  9. Expecting spring to be ‘spring-like.’  New Zealand spring is usually one of the most changeable times in weather. We’re not saying we don't have daffodils and leaping lambs - we do - it's just sometimes it's still freezing, other times it's really windy, raining or even really hot. Often, it's freezing, windy and hot all in the same day (again with the whole 4 seasons thing). Come prepared for all eventualities.

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