When to Visit New Zealand
Traditionally, the most popular time to visit New Zealand is in the Kiwi summer – from December to March. The weather is usually warm and you’ll be able to enjoy all the activities around our beaches, rivers and lakes. What’s more, if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere, you get to escape your winter (or if you’re from north Queensland, you can escape the hot, rainy season).
Things to consider when you’re deciding when to visit
Avoid Kiwis on Vacation
Try and avoid the North Island during the crazy three week mid-summer holiday period (about 26 December to January 10). New Zealand Schools close down from just before Christmas until the end of January, and many businesses close down over the Christmas/New Year period, so this is when all the locals go on holiday. The cities empty out, and everyone heads to the beaches, lakes and rivers! Camping is a very popular holiday option for New Zealanders, and during this busy period you’ll find almost all the best camping spots are full to capacity. Aside from the crowds and noise, the prices for campervan rentals, camping grounds and tourist activities are at a premium during this period. We recommend travelling in early December or, even better, in February to March, when the weather is warm and generally more settled, and you’ll have the beaches and holiday spots virtually to yourself!
Opt for the South Island
If you MUST travel during the Christmas/New Years period, opt for the South Island if you can. Only a third of New Zealand’s population live there, so there are a lot less locals competing for space. Note that you’ll still find crowds at popular spots such as Queenstown and Wanaka during this period.
Travel in the shoulder season
A good time to visit the South Island is during the shoulder season – either side of the peak holiday season, around October to November or March to May. You’ll avoid the crowds and are less likely to be bothered by the sandflies than you would in the heat of mid summer. Plus, you’ll still have a good chance of seeing snow on the Alps. And you’ll find it will cost you much less than travelling in the peak tourist season.
Do your research on New Zealand public holidays
The big ones are Christmas and Easter, though there are several other single days and long weekends. It also pays to know when the school holidays take place, as New Zealand families are more likely to travel then. Try to avoid departing any of the major cities (particularly Auckland) at the start of a public holiday – you’ll be competing with thousands of locals with the same idea! More about driving in New Zealand
Consider travelling in winter
Travelling in winter is a great option if you’re on a budget. You’ll get a much better deal on flights to New Zealand, you’ll enjoy the tourist attractions without the crowds, and winter campervan rental prices are about a third of summer prices. Plus, if you’re into skiing or snowboarding you’ll have a blast. If you’ve never tried skiing, this will be the perfect opportunity to give it a go!