The best time to travel to New Zealand

If you like nature and you like to travel probably a trip to New Zealand is on your wishlist. For some New Zealand is paradise. NZ is for sure one of my favourites of all the countries we have been so far. The nature is stunning and diverse, the people very friendly, and the travelling is very relaxed. In this blog we will share our ideas when it is the best time to travel New Zealand.

So, you are going. But what is the best time to travel New Zealand?

Which season is the best time to travel New Zealand? Because New Zealand is at the other side of the equator as seen from Europe and North America, the country knows opposite seasons. When it is summer in Europe, it is winter in New Zealand. When it is autumn in North America, it is spring in New Zealand, and so on. So that is perfect, you can escape the cold weather to visit these beautiful islands.

From late October till the end of April every year, it is Great Walk season . This means, the climate is suitable for outdoor activities like hiking. So travel to New Zealand would be best to do within these six months. Unless you are an extreme mountaineer who likes it rough or you come to visit New Zealand for the purpose of skiing.

The best time to travel New Zealand combining nice weather and less touristic crowds

Unfortunately it is not a secret that New Zealand is a great nature destination. You won’t be on your own on the roads and on the campsites. Although it is very easy to get away from the crowds by taking just another crossroad.

The months December, January and February are peak season to travel in New Zealand. Because they are characterized by the warmest weather in the year. The big summer school holiday for New Zealanders runs from mid-December until the beginning of February. Most families will take a big break in December and January and travel around in their own country. Perhaps this is not the best time to travel through New Zealand if you like to travel quiet with less tourists.

Your best time to travel in New Zealand, when it is more quiet with still nice weather, is from half February till the beginning of May. Or from the end of October till the beginning of December.

But won’t it be too cold to travel in NZ then?

Of course, nobody can predict the weather. And of course to travel New Zealand will be colder in the shoulder season than in the summer. But on the other hand, if you are looking for an active holiday, you won’t need that warm weather (or when you drive a car without AC like we did!).  Hiking and other outdoor activities will keep you warm. Just bring an extra layer in the evening to put on your bed. And during the day the temperature in the sun is just perfect! When it might get too cold for you, you can always decide to drive up North to travel further in warmer weather conditions. The picture below is at the Northern Island. Not too bad isn’t it?

Best time to travel New Zealand
Blue skies in autumn in NZ

Travel advantages of spring season in New Zealand

From September till November it is spring season and therefor fine to travel in New Zealand. The nature bursts with new life, you will see colourful blossom and young (wild)life. The feeling of days getting longer is very positive and energizing. Spring is the best season to see beautiful big waterfalls with all the melting water from the mountains.

What about to travel New Zealand during autumn.

Autumn brings more stable weather than the spring. You will enjoy the beautiful looks of fire orange and red trees. The sky is crispy clear and there will be plenty of sunny days. In autumn you will be able to spot the puppy seals playing in a waterfall a little bit north from Kaikoura. Don’t miss it. It is awesome. See maps below for directions.

Our own experience with the weather in New Zealand in late February, March, April, and the beginning of May

We arrived in New Zealand to make a road trip. For three months it was us, our car and gear and the stunning nature of New Zealand. We planned to travel to New Zealand in the late summer and autumn because we are outdoor persons. So the weather should be perfect for hiking isn’t it? And looking backward, we are very grateful we have chosen this time of the year to travel both the Southern and the Northern Island of New Zealand. There were way less travelers on the road and less crowded camping spots.

So for us it was just the best time to travel New Zealand in this period.


We had perfect weather. Only the nights and mornings got a little colder as the season moved into the direction of autumn and winter. We bought an extra blanket to sleep under at the end of March. The temperature reached around zero degrees Celsius during the night at some places in the Southern Island (32 Fahrenheit). Till half April we were still swimming in creeks and lakes in the Southern Island. Yes it was refreshing, but very nice! Skinny dipping is super fun to do and the temperature doesn’t spoil the fun. Half March we experienced tropical temperatures at the Abel Tasman beaches in the North West of the Southern island. The weather was just excellent for hiking all the time of our stay. I didn’t wish for warmer weather.

During our stay the days became shorter and shorter. At the end of April it will be already dark at 6 pm. This is not a problem if you travel to New Zealand in this period but be aware of that. Be sure you bring a lantern to lighten up your tent or van. And don’t forget to bring a good book. The nights can be long.

So in summary, what is the best time to travel New Zealand

The Perfect Strugglers highly recommend you not to travel to New Zealand during the high summer season running from December until mid-February. You probably will enjoy more what New Zealand has to offer when the crowds on the roads and campsites are shrinking. Visiting New Zealand during shoulder season will be favorable for your wallet. And moreover, heavy exercise is not optimal with tropical temperatures. We suggest you travel to New Zealand either late October until the beginning of December, or otherwise in late summer and autumn mid-February until mid-May (be aware the Great Walk season ends the end of April). Have a great Kiwi experience!

I hope this blog about what is the best time to travel New Zealand helps you to make a good choice. Let us know what you decided and how you liked your New Zealand trip and what the weather was like 🙂

If you want to know how we were able to budget travel New Zealand for only 777 usd per person per month? Enjoy our blog about it!

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Best time to travel New Zealand



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