The Seasonal Guide to New Zealand – a holiday destination for all seasons.
New Zealand, the “Land of the Long White Cloud” is loved by visitors from all over the world for its diverse landscape, temperate climate and warm hospitality. It’s somewhere you can visit for a skiing trip on the breathtaking Southern Alps in winter, or a beach holiday on the golden sands of the Coromandel in the Summer. Autumn wine adventures in Central Otago or Martinborough, or Spring golf tours on one of the many world-class courses that are dotted around the North and South Islands. Wildlife lovers love being able to see penguins and whales in the cool months, and native birds and Spring lambs in the warmer months.
Whether you’re a sunseeker or a winter warmer, there’s magic awaiting you on your New Zealand holiday. We’ve come up with a whole bunch of our favourite activities for each season that will make planning your next trip a breeze, whatever the weather!
Tip: Are you on a budget or just looking for the best value? Book a holiday in New Zealand’s off-peak season between May and September… we have a range of Winter Specials available which offer maximum bang for your buck. Ask us about them today!
Summer (December to February)
New Zealand has warm rather than scorching summers, and long evenings that go on & on, making the days perfect for any activity. It gets hot, but you’ll still be able to head out and enjoy an outdoor activity on even the warmest days! Win win!
Beaches and Surfing
Helicopter tours of the Glaciers
You might think Summer is a funny time to visit a giant ice formation, but the glaciers at Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are actually best seen from a clear sky on a crisp Summer’s day! The glaciers are found on the West Coast of the South Island and can be viewed from above on a helicopter tour, or a short hike will get you up close and personal. The glaciers are surrounded by natural rainforests which really make them a sight to behold… whether from high above or on the ground… there’s a heap to explore!
Swimming with Dolphins in Akaroa
The beautiful town of Akaroa has a uniquely French heritage, but is perhaps most famous for its resident dolphins, the Hector’s dolphins – they’re the world’s smallest and found only in New Zealand! You can take a guided tour to watch as whole pods of them swim alongside your boat, and jump in for a swim with them – they’re friendly! It’s a great way to experience the magic of nature up close, and all surrounded by the most beautiful green rolling hills. Truly unforgettable!
Autumn (March to May)
Autumn in New Zealand is one of the most picturesque times of year, the leaves on the trees turn golden brown and the temperature cools, but not so much that you won’t want to explore the outdoors!
Gibbston Valley Wineries & Vineyards
Just a stone’s throw from Arrowtown is the Gibbston Valley wine region, one of the key winemaking areas in Central Otago, and the home of some of the world’s best Pinot Noir. There are dozens of wineries to explore, many with cellar doors for tastings and restaurants for lunches. Accommodation in the valley is available at Kinross cottages where you can stargaze from your very own hot tub or admire the view of the Southern Alps! For the adventure minded traveller, the bridge over the Kawarau river is home to New Zealand’s first bungy jump, or just grab a bike and explore some of the cycling trails that surround the area.
Explore the Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands are known for their beauty, but they’re also a cultural landmark, rich with Māori heritage and historic places. A visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds lets you discover the history of New Zealand’s union under the treaty of Waitangi and learn more about Māori culture and traditions. Out on the waters, take a cruise out to Cape Brett, and on a calm day your skipper will guide the vessel right through the famous “hole in the rock”! This is also the best place to see whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, and sea birds, so a camera is a must! You can also take a tour on an old-fashioned sailing boat or explore the historic town of Russell, where you can learn how pioneers settled in the area and the processes behind making leather and binding books.
Winter (June to August)
Winter in New Zealand means crisp, cold weather. Wrap up warm because it’s one of the most beautiful times of year to visit and there’s a lot to explore!
Skiiing and Snowboarding
Skiing in New Zealand is world-famous, and there’s mountain ranges in both islands meaning you can hit the slopes whether you’re up North or down South! Otago is home to the best skiing in the country, with adventure capitals Queenstown and Wanaka both boasting a range of world-class ski fields… Treble Cone, the Remarkables, Cardona and Coronet Peak. The private resort Ohau is a boutique option with a lodge that is famous for its comfort. In the North Island, there’s Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas, where you can ski on New Zealand’s only skiable volcano, Mount Ruapehu! In Canterbury, Mount Hutt is conveniently located near Christchurch and is a favourite, while boutique ski fields like Mt. Cheeseman, Mt. Olympus and Dobson offer back country ski adventures.
Snowshoeing and Queenstown Winter Festival
Not a skier or snowboarder? Not to worry! You can still hit the slopes and explore with a snowshoeing tour on the Remarkables, where you’ll get an incredible view over the surrounding area. Helicopter tours of the mountains are also available for travellers who just want to keep warm, but not miss out on the sights… the view of the mountains over the lakes at Queenstown and Wanaka must be seen to be believed, and it’s at its most dramatic in winter when the snow caps the mountains! Queenstown also plays host to its own Winter festival every year, which sees the town buzzing with fireworks and celebrations – it’s a really amazing place to visit in Winter.
Natural Hot Pools and Geothermal Activities
The most famous of New Zealand’s geothermal attractions are in Rotorua, where you’ll find the geysers and hot mud pools at Te Puia, as well as hot water pools and waterfalls. But did you know there are abundant hot pools all over the country? Hanmer Springs near Christchurch is a Winter wonderland, with amazing hot pools and day spas where you can shake off any cold chill. There are also hot springs in Taupo and Tongariro in the North Island and Maruia Hot Springs on the West Coast of the South Island.
Spring (September to November)
Spring in New Zealand is full of beautiful colours as the flowers come into blossom, and on the farms it’s lambing season! Day time temperatures rise after the cold of winter, but mornings and nights will still get chilly, so keep some warm clothes handy.
Whale watching in New Zealand is available in multiple locations, but the best spot is Kaikoura on the coast of the South Island. You can expect to see sperm whales, humpbacks, dolphins and seals, and maybe even some orcas! Kaikoura is surrounded by some very deep coastal waters which means that whales and deep-sea species of all kinds are found there all year round. It’s also home to some of the best fish and chips and fresh crayfish that you’ll find anywhere in New Zealand!
Blossoms at Lake Tekapo
Spring is Lupin season! These colourful flowers are best seen at Lake Tekapo, midway between Queenstown and Christchurch in the South Island. The lake is a gorgeous turquoise blue, which makes the most amazing backdrop for the purple, yellow, pink and blue shades of the lupins. A mountain bike or walking trail round the lake is the best way to experience the beauty of Spring, and remember your camera because even though photos don’t do the colours justice, you’ll want to snap some pictures and remember these views for a lifetime!
Spring is a quieter (and cooler) time of year to take a hike on one of New Zealand’s many walking tracks – the Abel Tasman track and other famous tracks are open all year round. Spring provides a good balance between warm weather and less foot traffic on the track!
New Zealand is open 365 days a year, let us help you get there for your next holiday.