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What sort of weather can I expect on my tour?

There are a few factors that you might want to consider when deciding which season suits you. These are:

  • The weather or season you might prefer
  • Availability of specific activities in specific season 
  • Driving conditions during specific seasons
  • Cost and availability of flights to New Zealand
  • Cost of accommodations and activities etc in specific seasons

The weather and our seasons:

New Zealand does experience the four distinctive seasons. Officially these are:

  • Summer: December, January and February
  • Autumn: March, April and May
  • Winter: June, July and August
  • Spring: September, October and November

What sort of temperatures and conditions does each season produce?

  • Summer: Expect an average high of 25 C (76 F) in the north to around 22 C (72 F) in the south. Average lows (evening time) are 13 C (55 F) in the north to 12 C (54 F) in the south.
  • Autumn: Expect an average high of 20 C (68 F) in the north to around 17 C (63 F) in the south. Average lows (evening time) are 11 C (52 F) in the north to 7 C (45 F) in the south.
  • Winter: Expect an average high of 15 C (59 F) in the north to around 10 C (50 F) in the south.
    Average lows (evening time) are 6 C (43 F) in the north to 2 C (35 F) in the south.
  • Spring: Expect an average high of 18 C (65 F) in the north to around 16 C (61 F) in the south.
    Average lows (evening time) are 9 C (48 F) in the north to 7 C (45 F) in the south.
  Spring Summer Autumn Winter
  Sep, Oct, Nov Dec, Jan, Feb Mar, Apr, May Jun, Jul, Aug
  High Low High Low High Low High Low
Bay of Islands                
Temperature (C) 19 9 25 14 21 11 16 7
Temperature (F) 67 48 76 56 70 52 61 45
Rain Days/Season 11 7 11 16
Auckland                
Temperature (C) 18 11 24 12 20 13 15 9
Temperature (F) 65 52 75 54 68 55 59 48
Rain Days/Season 12 8 11 15
Rotorua                
Temperature (C) 17 7 24 12 18 9 13 4
Temperature (F) 63 45 75 54 68 55 59 48
Rain Days/Season 11 9 9 13
Wellington                
Temperature (C) 15 9 20 13 17 11 12 6
Temperature (F) 59 48 68 55 63 52 54 43
Rain Days/Season 11 7 10 13
Christchurch                
Temperature (C) 17 7 22 12 18 8 12 3
Temperature (F) 63 45 72 54 65 46 54 37
Rain Days/Season 7 7 7 7
Queenstown                
Temperature (C) 16 5 22 10 16 6 10 1
Temperature (F) 61 41 72 50 61 43 50 34
Rain Days/Season 9 8 8 7

 

Rainfall

Generally speaking rainfall days are consistent throughout the year at between 7 and 11 days per month but regions such as the West Coast and Fiordland do get drier during the winter months.

Snow

The North Island only gets snow on the high central plateau around Tongariro National Park (the Whakapapa and Turoa Ski fields) and on a few other high peaks such as Mt Egmont/Taranaki. In the South Island almost everywhere can experience snow and as the Southern Alps and other high mountain ranges stretch from top to bottom then during winter snow isn't far away from anywhere. Stewart Island also gets snow in winter but not often. Canterbury, Otago and Southland generally get the most snow and this is why most of the ski resorts are based here. 

Driving conditions:

New Zealand roads are very well maintained and well signposted. The local services are crews are also very used to the wintry conditions that some regions can experience and respond quickly to keep roads clear and safe. During winter months some of the high road passes such as Arthur's Pass, Lindis Pass and Lewis Pass (effectively the roads that join the East Coast of the South Island to the West Coast) might be closed following a heavy snowfall however road crews generally open these within a few hours of the storm passing.

Train services such as the Tranz Alpine are rarely affected. Roads can become quite slippery around the colder regions and areas or sections that are particularly prone to this are well signposted.

Rental car companies do prohibit driving their vehicles on certain roads during certain hours (usually 11pm-6am) and seasons. The Milford Road can be quite a hazardous section in the winter months so if you are not familiar with winter driving our advice would be to take one of the coach trips into Milford instead. The drivers have special training and the specially equipped vehicles ensure a relaxed and informative day trip.

Our tip - always drive to the conditions.

You can check long range forecasts for weather on the New Zealand Metservice Website here.

 

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