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NZ Weather and Seasons

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NZ weather is one of the country’s greatest assets.  It’s fair to say NZ weather in most places doesn’t have the extremes of most climes.  The New Zealand climate is mostly temperate however subtropical conditions exist in the far north and on the Coromandel Peninsula. As you would imagine, the NZ weather in summer is usually the most reliable.  The average maximum temperature ranges between 18-30ºC (64-86ºF). Because New Zealand is long and narrow, the temperature is normally about 5ºC (41ºF) higher in the far north of the country than in the far south.

Chasing the Sun

According to the NZ weather experts at the New Zealand Metservice, January and February are the warmest months of the year. The sunniest places are the Marlborough, Nelson, Hawke's Bay, and Bay of Plenty regions. The UV rays in our sunlight are very strong during summer so we recommend you regularly apply sunscreen as well as wear sunglasses and a hat.  If you have fair skin, covering up between 10AM and 3PM is strongly advised.

The New Zealand landscape is so green because of one aspect of NZ weather - rain!  NZ weather is changeable so we recommend a ' four seasons in one day ' approach when travelling. Be prepared with clothing for all NZ weather, regardless of the season.

Colder Months

NZ weather does get cold but not even our coldest locations are modest by many standards.  July is the coldest month. In winter, the average maximum temperature ranges between 8-15ºC (46-59ºF) outside the mountain areas. The coldest winter conditions are experienced in Central Otago, the Mackenzie Plains of inland Canterbury, and on the central plateau in the North Island.

Although snow can always been seen on the South Island's Southern Alps, it only falls on the low-lying areas in winter. In the North Island, snow falls on the central plateau mountains and several other ranges.

Rainfall

There is one aspect of NZ weather that is hard to avoid – rain.  The North Island has 120 wet days a year on average. However, rainfall is spread evenly over the year and a high proportion of sunshine hours are recorded in winter. The exception is in the north where most of the rain occurs in winter.

In the North Island, the driest areas are central and southern Hawkes Bay, the Wairarapa and Manawatu. In the South Island, rain fall varies dramatically. Some areas are the driest in the country while the Milford Sound receives 180 wet days a year!

Extreme NZ weather conditions are rare. Severe hailstorms, thunderstorms and tornadoes are not common.

New Zealand daylight saving times begin on the first Sunday in October each year and end on the first Sunday in April the following year. In mid-summer, the sun goes down between around 9 and 10PM – earlier in the north and later in the southern part of the country. 

Be Prepared

Sadly, a few international visitors have perished in New Zealand’s wilderness due to being poorly prepared for NZ weather.  If you are planning to hike or undertake any other activities in the mountains, make sure you have an up-to-date NZ weather forecast and take appropriate clothing and equipment.  For more information about how to prepare for NZ weather on your wilderness trip, check with the Department of Conservation.  For less adventurous activities, Visitor Information Centres often have long-range NZ weather forecasts which will give an indication of expected conditions.

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