New Zealand is a great country to visit at any time of year, but the summer months are by far the most popular. The days are long and the weather is (usually) good, but it’s also when locals flock to popular holiday spots, clogging up roads and the tourist towns they lead to. Keep reading for my tips on travelling New Zealand in summer.
Summertime in New Zealand features warm temperatures and long days (it’s light well after 9 pm in the south), but that’s not to say the weather is always good. It rains a lot in New Zealand and it’s not uncommon to have days upon days of terrible weather at any time year. Temperatures vary a lot throughout the country, but you’re unlikely to overheat too often in New Zealand — typically “hot” days would be late 20s / early 30s. The sun is intense though and you’ll burn if you’re not careful — sunscreen is a must.
Heaps of people take holidays over the Christmas period in New Zealand. They’ll often spend Christmas at home and then head for the scenic spots. That period (roughly 26 December til Mid-January) is the busiest time in lots of places around New Zealand. That’s especially true for popular seaside / lakeside spots, especially ones close to big cities. Places like Mount Maunganui, Kaiteriteri and Northland swell over that period, as do popular tourist towns like Queenstown, Wanaka, Taupo etc.
You can still escape the crowds though. We were on the West Coast during that period a couple of years ago and it was pretty quiet. If you’re travelling during this time be prepared to be flexible — there are often less popular towns close to the busier ones, meaning you could stay there and do a day trip to that overcrowded paradise instead. Cities could also be a good option over that time if you’d like to see them at their quietest.
Summer in New Zealand: Where to Go
Everywhere and anywhere. Pretty much anywhere in New Zealand looks good in summer, and with the long days and unlimited places to see, you’re spoiled for choice.
The one thing that suffers a bit in summer is the Southern Alps. This mountain range runs along the length of the South Island, and while the big mountains always have snow, the smaller ones don’t. Places like Queenstown, Nelson Lakes and Fiordland look better with snow, so winter and spring is better for that. Still though, the mountains are stunning at any time of year.
Aside from that, you can’t go wrong wherever you go in New Zealand. I reckon the South Island is way better than the North Island though, so try and spend most of your time there. If you want some beach time, Northland is your best bet. If I was planning a first trip to New Zealand in summer, I’d fly into Auckland, spend the first few days up in Northland, a quick trip to Rotorua and then fly down to Queenstown or Dunedin and spend the rest of the time exploring the South.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Two-Week New Zealand Itinerary
That’s all there is to say about New Zealand in summer. Let’s hope for a big one this year — it’s been a while since we’ve had international travellers in any great numbers and I reckon this summer is going to be a big one for our decimated tourism industry.
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Let me know in the comments below!