Summer in New Zealand - A Weather’s Guide for December, January, February, and March

This quick and practical guide will take you through all the weather-related basics you need to plan an epic summer trip to New Zealand. Temperatures, rainfall, insider’s tips and quick facts about the country’s weather.

(Disclosure: Certain links to products and/or services are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission for any purchases that you make. This will not be at any cost to you.)

 

In this guide to summer weather in New Zealand you’ll find:

  • When is summer in New Zealand?

  • An overview of New Zealand’s weather

  • December weather in New Zealand

  • January weather in New Zealand

  • February weather in New Zealand

  • March weather in New Zealand

  • Quick facts about New Zealand’s weather

Totaranui Beach, Abel Tasman - Summer in New Zealand Weather | The Global Curious Travel Blog| Ph: Martina Grossi

Totaranui Beach, Abel Tasman - Summer in New Zealand Weather | The Global Curious Travel Blog| Ph: Martina Grossi

 

When is summer in New Zealand?

New Zealand is located in the Southern Hemisphere. Hence, summer goes from December to March.

Even though the summer starts on December 22 -2019- and ends on March 20, in New Zealand, seasons officially start on the 1st of the month -apparently to keep records simple. 

For the sake of being fair with both the official dates and nature’s will, I’ve included December and March in this article!

An overview of New Zealand’s weather

New Zealand enjoys the famous -or infamous?- ‘Island Weather.’ I’ve been living here for 5 years and to me, this means that I always need to take layers of clothing with me. We could be chilling at the beach and then, suddenly, the cold wind starts blowing and two minutes later I’m freezing my buns off.

In general lines, temperatures are mild, especially over summer. I know this may sound obvious, but New Zealand is actually quite ‘close’ the Antarctica and Australia, which means temperatures and weather can change a few times within a few hours.

Of course, this varies across the different regions. If, for example, you head to the West Coast in the South Island, you’d be lucky if it’s not pouring rain -regardless of the time of the year.

As I’ve been here for years and I love helping pleople plan their New Zealand travels -and explored quite a lot- some things included in the article come from my own experience -plus, of course, some good ol’ ‘official data.’

December weather in New Zealand 

If you are from the Northern Hemisphere, you may feel ‘entitled’ to a snowy Christmas! But by the time you get here, all you’ll wanna do is grab a beer and get the barbeque going.

The end of the Christmas season leads to the major holiday period in New Zealand. It gets busy-busy!

In any case, here’s what you can expect:

  • ·Long days -duh! I hear ya, but I mean, December is when you get THE LONGEST days. On December 22nd, the sun will rise at 5:58 am and set at 8:39 -in Auckland. As you head south days do get longer -e.g. in Queenstown, the sun doesn’t set till after 9.30…

  • Temperatures can range from 12 to 24 (C) averaging between 7 to 9 days of rain. The exception is the West Coast. With the highest rainfall levels in New Zealand, you can expect it to be wet year-round -which just makes it even more beautiful.

  • December is ideal for those who prefer temperate weather and don’t enjoy high temperatures.

  • It’s also great for hiking and kicking off some cool outdoor activities as you can not only make the most of a long day, but also not be cooked by New Zealand’s aggressive sun. Still, you must wear sunscreen at all times if you don’t want to end up looking like a prawn -or a crab, or any type of pinky seafood.

Hiking the kepler Track during the last days of December | Summer in New Zealand Weather | The Global Curious Travel Blog | Ph: Leticia Carve

Hiking the kepler Track during the last days of December | Summer in New Zealand Weather | The Global Curious Travel Blog | Ph: Leticia Carve

 

January Weather in New Zealand 

So here’s when we talk summer. And summer equals…high season! This is when pretty much the whole country goes on holiday -usually until the 9th or 10th of the month. January is summer school holidays so it can get hard -and pricey- to book last-minute deals!

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Higher temperatures -the average is around the 25 (C) but it can get higher. At night time it usually drops, but expect mild, warm nights.

  • If you are a beach-bun and enjoy warm weather, this is when you want to come and visit. Again, the sun in New Zealand is very strong so as a rule of thumb, drink heaps of water and apply sunscreen a few times a day.

  • When going hiking or to the outdoors in general, try to double-check if there are sheltered areas as sunburns and heat strokes are very common! 

  • Another thing you can count on is…sandflies. Or gosh, these are EVIL. These tiny wee insects will beat the s***t out of anyone. They are merciless -once, they were biting our eyelids. Sandfly bites are really itchy and if your body is not used to them, it can get swollen -this happened to me on my first summer in New Zealand.

  • January’s weather is usually the most stable but you can still expect sudden changes. Again, the exception to the rule are the West Coast and Milford Sound as this is the month with the highest levels of rainfall -632 mm on average. The great thing is Milford Sound’s most beautiful landscapes come to life when it rains. 

 

February weather in New Zealand

As far as warmth goes, February is the hottest month in New Zealand. Kids are still on summer break so crowds can still be quite intense!

Here’s what you can expect:

  • In the North Island’s far north temperatures can get to 30-32 (C). As you may tell, it’s still not extreme -and some summers are hotter than others- but don’t be surprised if you are praying for shade at 10 am.

  • February is also the driest month of the year. The exception -again- are the West Coast and Milford Sound. The funny thing though is that the wettest region -Fiordland- it’s just a few hours away from the driest -Queenstown and Alexandra.

  • February is great for water sports, long days and hot weather without the mega-massive January-crowds -especially in Abel Tasman and Queenstown.

    March weather in New Zealand

Otehey Bay in Bay of Plenty - We went there beginning of March, still so warm! | The Global Curious Travel Blog | Ph: Diego Donoso

Otehey Bay in Bay of Plenty - We went there beginning of March, still so warm! | The Global Curious Travel Blog | Ph: Diego Donoso

Although officially the 1st of March is considered the first day of Autumn, I still wanted to include it in this quick guide to summer in New Zealand. The solstice doesn’t actually happen until the 20th and I personally love traveling in March.

I spent a week in Waiheke this year at the beginning of March and it was just perfect. I’ve also been to Northland at the end of March a couple years ago and it was really sunny and warm. 

Here’s what you can expect:

·         As you make your way south you’ll start feeling how days begin to range from being warm under the sun to cooling down as soon as you hit the shade.

·         You can also feel days getting shorter -but it’s still decent. For example, in Nelson -North of the South Island- by the 1st of March sun will be rising at 7.06 and setting by 8.10. I reckon that’s still quite a long day.

·         As far as rainfall goes, it’s still fairly dry. The weather gets wetter toward the winter season.

I consider March to be a great month for visiting New Zealand, especially if you don’t enjoy big crowds -keep in mind though that March is still quite busy!- and heat that much.

 

Quick Facts about New Zealand’s weather

  • Hottest months: January - February

  • Driest month: February

  • New Zealand’s rainy season: June - July - August

  • Coldest month: July

  • Note that there’s no monsoon season in New Zealand 

 

Another one, from the end of March at the Aoraki/ MT Cook National Park | The Global Curious Travel Blog | Ph: My dad!

Another one, from the end of March at the Aoraki/ MT Cook National Park | The Global Curious Travel Blog | Ph: My dad!

Are you coming to New Zealand any time soon? Use this quick guide to plan your trip!

 

Pin-me-up baby! Keep this guide to Summer Weather in New Zealand handy so you remember the best months for planning a trip to this epic country!

 
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Hey u! I'm Martina, from Argentina. I've been combining travel and life overseas since 2013 in a quest for living alongside with creativity, joy and personal growth.

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