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The Absolute Best Time to Visit New Zealand in 2024

The Absolute Best Time to Visit New Zealand in 2024

What's the best time to visit New Zealand?

The best time to visit New Zealand is between January and March, when the warm summer season makes the islands’ beaches, lakes, and parks perfect for all-day fun with highs in the mid-60s and 70s. Explore Auckland’s gardens, parks, and museums, attend traditional Maori festivals like Waitangi Day, and enjoy great hiking trails leading to rainforests and waterfalls.

Sandy beaches, hulking volcanoes, lush rainforests, busy cities, traditional Maori culture, and dappled sunlight in glades and meadows where iconic films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar were shot — New Zealand is a wonder, no matter where you look. 

But figuring out the right time of year to go poses a challenge for most travelers. The seasons are reversed with its location in the Southern Hemisphere, so it can be confusing to find the best time to visit New Zealand.

You might’ve heard that New Zealand is rainy, and it is — but there are certain periods when rainfall is limited and sunshine reigns. Other parts of the year tend to see cheaper prices or smaller crowds, and there are a couple of months that are best avoided if you want a top-tier NZ experience. 

We’ll show you the overall best time to visit New Zealand, along with the cheapest, least crowded, and worst months for a trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud (or Middle Earth, if you’re a Tolkien fan). 

You’ll get a look at the average weather conditions, prices, crowds, and seasonal events that place month-to-month across New Zealand. We’ll outline the seasons that are best for your trip depending on your goals so you can pinpoint the travel dates that work best for you! 

Overall Best Time to Visit New Zealand

View of Lake Wakatipu and the city of Queenstown on the South Island for a section detailing the overall best time to visit New Zealand


The overall best time to visit New Zealand is between January and March. While January is crowded, you’ll find less tourists here from February to March along with sunnier skies, warm weather, and abundant outdoor fun. 

New Zealand’s peak season spans from December to January or February. March marks the start of the milder fall season but still boasts summer-like conditions with highs in the 60s and 70s. 

  • January: 65-74°F; 6-13 rainy days
  • February: 65-74°F; 5-10 rainy days
  • March: 61-71°F; 6-11 rainy days

The weather in New Zealand varies by the island and location, but this time of year, highs hang within about a 10° range around the country.

That could be the difference between enjoying 71°F highs in March in Auckland (North Island) versus 61°F highs in Queenstown (South Island). Look to visit spots like Wellington, Auckland, and Rotorua in rainy January because they tend to be drier than areas like Queenstown. 

Coastal Auckland on the North Island is perfect for a visit. The Auckland Botanic Gardens are showing out, the “Golden Mile” of Queen Street is busy, and you can venture up to the Sky Tower in the Central Business District for panoramic views of the harbour and city.

Take a stroll through Auckland Domain park with its extinct volcano, or walk along the beachfront promenade of Mission Bay Beach. For nightlife, head to Viaduct Harbour where restaurants and bars are buzzing with activity. 

Visit Piha Beach on the North Island (west coast) if you want to see some amazing, huge rock formations like Lion Rock, watch surfers take to the waves, and enjoy soft black to golden sand. You can see Maori petroglyphs and war memorials here.

Nearby, head into Waitakere Ranges Regional Park if you want to hike some scenic trails through the lush rainforest during this season. There’s a nice 1.7-mile trail to Kitekite Falls and others that lead to small villages like Karekare.

This is the best time to tour the Hobbiton™ Movie Set in Matamata (North Island) to see the fairytale homes and gardens from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

While you’re here, you can actually step into Bilbo Baggins’ home in the bucolic Shire, see “hobbits” interacting and milling about in the village, opt for a Second Breakfast Tour, or stay for a deluxe Evening Banquet Tour.

Between January and March, you’ll find the best prices on hotels and airfare during March. March is the cheapest month to visit during this peak period, as you can see from Google Hotels and Skyscanner data below:

  • January: $106/night; flights from $848
  • February: $113/night; flights from $646
  • March: $110/night; flights from $580

While these aren’t the overall cheapest months to visit New Zealand, they’re not the most expensive, either. You can find some great deals on hotels this time of year with moderate pricing on airfare to New Zealand to keep expenses down. 

You’ll be able to take advantage of the absolutely vibrant festival season across New Zealand during this time with events like these taking place on the North and South islands: 

  • Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival (late Jan) celebrates the Auckland Anniversary Weekend with history, cultural performances, art, and food along with contests, storytelling, and waka canoe trips in Auckland
  • World Buskers Festival (Jan-Feb) is a chance to listen to talented musicians, entertainers, and dancers busk and perform on the street in Christchurch with worldwide talent from January to early February
  • Kāwhia Kai Festival (early Feb) is a traditional festival on or near Waitangi Day in Kāwhia that celebrates traditional Maori food and drinks with cultural activities like tattooing, carving, kapa hakas, and “earth oven” or hangi-prepared food
  • Te Rā o Waitangi/Watangi Day (early Feb) in Wellington celebrates Waitangi Day at Waitangi Park with Maori traditions and customs as the focus with hangi meals and food, art, dancing, music, and cultural exhibits
  • Maketu Kaimoana Festival (mid-Feb) is a traditional Maori Kai festival that features cooking demonstrations, feasts, famous Bay of Plenty pies and rewena bread, music, dancing, and more 
  • Hobbiton Movie Set Summer Harvest Festival (late Feb) celebrates the bountiful season with guided tours, wine, beer on tap, a bustling marketplace with vendors, themed dinners, games, and dancing
  • Pasifika Cultural Festival (early Mar) in Auckland honors New Zealand’s Pacific Island heritage with representation in art, dance, music, and food from Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, and more 
  • Hokitika Wildfoods Festival (early Mar) brings the nation’s tastiest food, from fresh seafood and traditional Maori cuisine (even insects) to Hokitika with parties, music, drinks, and entertainment on the main stage
  • WOMAD: World of Music, Arts, and Dance (mid-Mar) is a big festival of the arts that brings music, dance, and visual arts together with unique events like musician-led culinary sessions and folk music nights in New Plymouth
  • Downtown Carnival (late Mar) in Tauranga features musicians, bands, and participating restaurants and bars on Wharf Street and Strand with multiple music stages, thrill rides, food booths, and more

With the warmest weather for enjoying New Zealand’s awesome parks, hiking trails, beaches, and vibrant cities, January through March is easily the best time to visit the country if you want a taste of it all. 

Cheapest Time to Visit New Zealand

Sun rays shining over the Auckland skyline viewed from the water with a few clouds in the sky during the cheapest time to visit New Zealand


The cheapest time to visit New Zealand is between June and October. This is winter and spring, bringing snow to the southern end of the South Island in places like Queenstown.

The North Island only sees snow in the mountains, but parts of the South Island can get quite wintry between May and October. This is great news for skiers and snowboarders! 

With highs ranging from the low 40s to the low 60s this time of year, it’s cold but not frigid across New Zealand in winter and spring: 

  • June: 43-59°F;  8-12 rainy/snowy days
  • July: 42-57°F; 8-11 rainy/snowy days 
  • August: 46-58°F; 9-11 rainy/snowy days 
  • September: 51-60°F; 8-12 rainy/snowy days
  • October: 55-63°F; 8-14 rainy/snowy days 

June sees very few tourists, while July-September crowds are moderate. Things are busier in October, so keep this in mind if you’re also trying to avoid crowds. 

June and July tend to be the snowiest months, and towns on the southern part of the South Island (like Queenstown) can see more than 1.5″ of snowfall on average during these months. 

That makes conditions just right for skiing, snowboarding, fat tire biking, snowmobiling, glacier hiking, ice skating, and sledding in areas that receive snow (the mountains and south/eastern South Island). 

Skiing season on the North Island is popular on Mount Ruapehu in the central region’s mountains, where two of the biggest ski fields in the country are: Tūroa and Whakapapa, each with slopes for different skill levels.

On the South Island, Queenstown, Ohau (between Queenstown and Christchurch), Methven village and nearby Mount Hutt and Porters ski areas, and Lake Wanaka’s Cardona and Treble Cone ski areas are all great to visit between June and October. 

Check out Aoraki Mount Cook National Park this time of year, where New Zealand’s highest mountain and longest glacier can be found. Glacier hiking is popular, but requires some special gear (crampons or snowshoes). 

You can even take a helicopter tour of the park (though that’s pricier) and get dropped in at a remote point on the Tasman Glacier for a truly adventurous way to spend the New Zealand winter. 

Since you’ll be coming during these months for the much-cheaper prices, take a look at Google Hotels and Skyscanner data to see how much you might pay for flights and hotels:

  • June: $73/night; flights from $629 
  • July: $80/night; flights from $749
  • August: $84/night; flights from $628
  • September: $87/night; flights from $721 
  • October: $92/night; flights from $660

June is the cheapest (and least busy) month of the year to visit New Zealand. Following are August, October, July, and September. You could pay as little as $1,140 for a 7-day trip to New Zealand in June.

While hotels and flights are cheaper, you can also find some cool events (many of which are free) to take advantage of across New Zealand, including the Maori New Year celebration of Matariki:

  • Matariki (mid-Jun) is a traditional Maori Kai new year festival in mid-winter that honors family and ancestors with feasts, music and dancing, kite flying, and fireworks around the nation
  • New Zealand Tango Festival (Jun) brings workshops, classes, performances, and milongas to Wellington with a chance to immerse yourself in the tango dance for a solid week in mid-winter
  • Hobbiton Movie Set Mid-Winter Feast (mid-July) includes a tour of the Shire, hot mulled wine, a hearty buffet dinner and canapés, Southfarthing beverages on tap, live music, and lots of themed activities 
  • International Hobbit Day Festival (Sept 22) at the Hobbiton Movie Set includes Southfarthing beer and wine on tap, live music and entertainment, contests, a meal at Green Dragon Inn, and a guided tour of the Shire set on Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthday
  • Wellington Jazz Festival (late Oct) is a huge event in the capital with some of the biggest and brand-new jazz musicians and bands performing smooth and funky music at venues around Wellington

Overall, it’s chilly and can be snowy during the winter and spring in New Zealand. But if you know what to expect and head for ski areas in the mountains or stick to warmer areas along the Northern Island’s coasts, you can enjoy June-October and its affordable prices. 

Least Busy Time to Visit New Zealand

View of a unique rock formation in the Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve with no one around on the Coromandel Peninsula for a section showing the least busy time to visit New Zealand

Shaun Jeffers/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit New Zealand is from April to June. These months mark the transition from fall to winter in New Zealand and the North and South islands see very few visitors as the weather gets cold and snowy in places. 

April, with its moderate highs from the upper 50s to upper 60s, is the warmest month during the least busy period. May and June get progressively cooler with higher chances of snow in the North Island mountains and around the South Island. 

  • April: 56-67°F; 6-11 rainy days
  • May: 49-62°F; 8-13 rainy days
  • June: 43-59°F;  8-12 rainy days

And it’s not just the lack of crowds that can make it cool to visit New Zealand during these months. Hiking, viewing the Southern Lights, winter sports, and sightseeing in cities like Auckland are all great options between April and June. 

While they’re not as ideal for visiting beaches or enjoying water activities on the lakes, you can always do some hiking in parks like Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island, where it’s milder than cities further south (like Queenstown). 

During May and June, your chances of seeing the dancing Southern Lights also start to increase dramatically. Can you imagine the views of undulating waves of green, pink, and purple lights taking over the night skies? 

Clear, winter nights with no light pollution give you the best chances of seeing the aurora australis, so pick spots like Lake Tekapo, Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park, the Catlins, or Stewart Island (the southernmost populated island) to see them in all their brilliance. 

You can go for a soak in a hot pool in Queenstown this time of year for a delightful contrast between the cold and snow. Onsen Hot Pools & Day Spa is a popular pick with river and mountain views. 

On the North Island, you’ll find ample things to do indoors around Auckland. Check out hundreds of dining and shopping options around the city with international fare and big-box stores to boutiques with handcrafted goods.

The hilltop Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland Domain, the Auckland Art Gallery in Albert Park, and Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium are perfect stops for a chilly, rainy, or snowy day. 

In addition to the benefit of smaller crowds during the fall and early winter, you’ll also find a curious mix of cost averages. April is the most expensive month of the year to visit, while June is the cheapest. Here’s what Google Hotels and Skyscanner data shows for these months:

  • April: $90/night; flights from $1,097
  • May: $92/night; flights from $691 
  • June: $73/night; flights from $629

A 7-day trip to New Zealand could cost you $1,725+ in April, or as little as $1,140 in June. May is a nice in-between month with affordable prices. For this reason, it’s better to come in May or June than pricey April. 

We’ve looked at some of the events that take place during June, like Matariki and New Zealand Tango Festival (check under Cheapest Time to Visit New Zealand), but you can also keep an eye out for the following events in April and May:

  • Port of Taraunga National Jazz Festival (Mar/Apr) is held around Easter in Taraunga with multiple stages featuring jazz bands and musicians from around the world performing with vendor booths set up in pop-up marketplace
  • Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts (May-Jun) along the capital Wellington’s waterfront spans 3 weeks with a focus on arts, culture, theater, and food with live music and play performances, speakers, vendor booths, and art display

While April isn’t ideal with its expensive prices, May and June offer very few visitors for less-crowded conditions and some of the best prices of the year on hotels and flights. These are the best months to visit New Zealand to avoid crowds. 

Worst Time to Visit New Zealand

Colorful hot springs with yellow and green-hued water steaming on the North Island in Rotorua to show the worst time to visit New Zealand


The worst time to visit New Zealand is during expensive April and crowded December. These months see the “bad side” of New Zealand with lots of tourists in December and the highest hotel and airfare prices of the year in April. 

April is fall, and while it’s one of the least busy months to go, it’s the most expensive month of the year. December is summer in New Zealand, so it’s crowded as people flock to the islands in search of warmth, sand, sun, and outdoor adventures. 

  • April: 56-67°F; 6-11 rainy days
  • December: 63-70°F; 7-13 rainy days

New Zealand is pretty rainy year-round, so it’s not like either of these months pose more of a storm or rain threat than the rest of the year. But April and December’s issues with crowds and prices definitely make them less palatable for a trip. 

This part of the year can be good for two things: sightseeing and the Great Walks season. Sightseeing around cities like Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, and cool villages like Methven can be really nice in April when crowds are small. 

Things take on a different shine in December in New Zealand’s cities, when huge crowds descend on the most popular destinations along the coasts and inland mountains for outdoor fun, beaches, lake sports, and summertime events. 

Since the Great Walks season runs from October to April, both December and April can be good times to fit in some hiking. You’ll find rainforest trails that lead to caves and waterfalls like Marokopa Falls (near Waitomo Glowworm Caves on the North Island). 

Tongariro National Park on the North Island is home to 3 active volcanoes (one of which was Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings), bubbling mud pools, volcanic lakes, and tons of wildlife. It’s a good spot for April or December. 

But in some of the more mountainous parts of the South Island, alpine hiking trails can already be snowy come April and less enjoyable for hiking (or impossible if you don’t have the right snow/ice gear). 

Cost-wise, December is better than April with Google Hotels and Skyscanner data showing lower prices overall this month. April has the highest average hotel prices and airfare of the year, though: 

  • April: $90/night; flights from $1,097 
  • December: $106/night; flights from $660

While you might pay as little as $1,400 for a 7-day New Zealand trip in December, that same trip could cost you upwards of $1,725 in April — mostly due to the high airfare costs this month. 

Festivals are pretty light in April, with events like the Port of Taraunga National Jazz Festival sometimes taking place this month (it’s usually around Easter). Other events include:

  • Rhythm and Alps Music Festival (late Dec) in Cardrona Valley on the South Island is a NYE music festival that brings bands, DJs, and attendees together for massive 3-day  event with optional camping 
  • Rhythm and Vines Music Festival (late Dec) in Gisborne on the North Island is the sister festival to Rhythm and Alps with bands, DJs, and musicians performing on multiple stages to crowds of millions

Overall, if you choose the surrounding months of May, June, or January, you can save money, enjoy smaller crowds, and find more events and festivals taking place around New Zealand than in April and December. 

New Zealand by Month: What to Expect

View of hobbit gardens and Bilbo Baggins hobbit home from the movie set of Hobbiton in New Zealand for a section showing conditions month by month

aaron choi/Shutterstock

New Zealand’s weather, costs, crowds, and events vary throughout the year, so it’s important to look at a month-to-month comparison so you can pick out the right time of year to suit your needs for the trip. Here’s what you can expect by month in New Zealand. 


Summery January is a crowded but great month to visit with highs between 65°F and 74°F, 6-13 rainy days, and moderate prices on flights and hotels (around $106/night and $848+ round trip). With events like the Maori Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival and World Buskers Festival, it’s a fun time to be in the country. 


Still summer, February is a great time for New Zealand beaches, surfing, and lake days with highs between 65-74°F and 5-10 rainy days. Traditional Maori celebrations like the Kāwhia Kai Festival, Waitangi Day, and Maketu Kaimoana Festival take place along with the Hobbiton Movie Set Summer Harvest Festival. Flights start at $646 with hotels averaging $113/night. 


The start of fall is still warm with highs between 61-71°F and 6-11 rainy days. Major events take place during this great month for a visit, like Pasifika Cultural Festival, Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, WOMAD music festival, and Downtown Carnival in Tauranga. Hotels cost around $110/night with flights from $580, making it the cheapest month during the peak season to go. 


Less-crowded April is autumnal with highs in the upper 50s to upper 60s and 6-11 rainy days. It can be snowy in the inland mountains, so take care with hiking. The Port of Taraunga National Jazz Festival happens early this month. Expect to pay around $90/night for hotels and upwards of $1,090 for round trip flights. 


May also sees smaller crowds as one of the least busy months in New Zealand with cool weather highs ranging from 49-62°F. There are 8-13 rainy or snowy days this month and hotels average $92/night with flights from $691. May is when the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts takes place in Wellington. 


One of the least busy and the cheapest month to visit New Zealand, June sees average hotel prices around $73/night with flights starting at $629 round trip. Highs are cool as winter kicks off between 43-59°F with 8-12 rainy or snowy days. This month, Maori New Year (Matariki) and the New Zealand Tango Festival take place.


Cool and sometimes snowy July is the heart of winter with highs ranging from 42-57°F and 8-11 days of rain or snow. This month, hotels average an affordable $80/night with flights from $749. You can check out the Hobbiton Movie Set Mid-Winter Feast to enter the Shire and enjoy beer, mulled wine, and hearty hobbit dinners. 


The start of spring, August slowly warms with highs between 46°F and 58°F around the islands. With 9-11 rainy or snowy days, it’s not a bad time to visit with hotels averaging $84/night and flights from $628 round trip (quite cheap). This month, go for a hike in Abel Tasman National Park or visit the Auckland Botanic Garden to see the blooms. 


Flowers, lush greenery, and mild weather in the 50s and 60s makes September pretty mild and favorable for a visit. Expect 8-12 rainy days with hotels that cost around $87/night this month and flights starting at $721 — a great deal for budget-conscious travelers. The International Hobbit Day Festival on September 22 is a fun event at the Hobbiton Movie Set this month. 


Another of the cheapest months to visit, October’s average hotel prices around $92/night with flights from $660 make it great for sticking to a budget. It’s busy with events like the Wellington Jazz Festival in the capital. The weather is mild with highs between 55°F and 63°F and 8-14 days of rain. 


As spring heats up closer to summer, November’s highs between 59°F and 66°F are welcome if you’re counting down to beach days. The Hobbiton Movie Set Beer Festival and Rotorua Festival of Gardens make this month a fun one, and hotels average about $113/night (airfare starts at $682). 


The most crowded month of the year, December means long lines and wait times at eateries, shops, trails, and attractions around New Zealand. Highs range from 63°F to 70°F with 7-13 rainy days as summer begins. Hotels average $106/night and $660+ for round trip flights. Sister music festivals, Rhythm and Alps/Rhythm and Vines, take place around NYE. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Aerial view of Piha Beach on the western coast of the North Island with huge rock formations and golden sand as seen during the best time to visit New Zealand for a frequently asked questions section


If you have some unanswered questions about the best time to visit New Zealand, you might find the answers you’re looking for here.

Which is the best month to visit New Zealand?

February and March are tied as the best months to visit New Zealand. Both are less busy than December and January, but offer warm summer weather with moderate rain and tons of events (including traditional Maori celebrations like Waitangi Day). March also boasts cheap prices on hotels and flights.

What is the cheapest time to visit New Zealand?

June to October is the cheapest time to visit New Zealand, but the month of June offers the lowest prices on hotels and flights overall. Hotels in New Zealand average just $73/night in June, the start of the winter season, and flights start around $630 round trip this month.

What month is the rainy season in New Zealand?

New Zealand’s rainy season is during the winter for the North Island and mountainous inland zones on the North and South islands. The rainy season falls during the summer for most of the South Island, where the snowiest parts of New Zealand are (like Queenstown).

What is the hottest month in New Zealand?

January and February are the hottest months in New Zealand with summer high temperatures ranging from 65-74°F on average and lows that don’t fall below the 50s and 60s for most of the country. Even the hottest part of the summer season is mild in New Zealand.

Is New Zealand expensive to visit?

New Zealand can be expensive to visit during the peak season from December to February (and because of higher airfare costs due to the distance). But you can save money by visiting between June and October, especially during June and August.

So, What’s the Overall Best Time to Visit New Zealand?

The best time to visit New Zealand overall is from January to March. You’ll skip crowded December (one of the worst months to visit) but still enjoy the sweet, summertime weather and events. 

Come between June and October, which is winter and the start of spring, for the cheapest prices. June is the cheapest month overall with hotels averaging $73/night! Skiing and snowboarding are popular this time of year on the North and South islands. 

From April to June, tourism dips and crowds are smaller. May and June are nice cost-wise, but cooler — still better than April, which is the most expensive month of the year to visit New Zealand. 

You won’t find a more biodiverse and beautiful country with awe-inspiring landscapes that are delightfully dramatic.

From volcanoes and sky-high waterfalls to the real-world location of the Shire and golden shores, New Zealand is amazing to visit almost anytime. Still, you can’t go wrong by sticking to January-March if you want the best experience of all!