Climate of New Zealand
Where is the country of New Zealand located? New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. New Zealand largely has a wonderful maritime climate, type Cf according to the Köppen climate classification, with mild winters and fairly warm summers. The north of New Zealand is sometimes referred to as subtropical, but officially it is not.
The higher parts – especially those on the South Island – have more of a continental climate. The highest peaks have a high mountain climate. Summers and winters are much cooler here. On the highest peaks you will even find (eternal) snow. In the mountains of New Zealand you will find several ski slopes and you can go on winter sports from June to the beginning of October.
New Zealand is a sunny country. The average number of sun hours on an annual basis is around two thousand, with peaks of up to 2300-2400 sun hours on an annual basis in the sunniest places. The hours of sunshine are fairly spread over the year. In the summer months the sun shines more in absolute hours than in winter, but if you look at the relative number of hours of sunshine, the differences are quite small. The winters are not as gloomy as we usually experience them here in the low countries. Due to the considerable differences in height, there is also a large difference in the amounts of precipitation that fall across the country. The west side of the South Island is considerably wetter than the east side, due to driving rains from depressions carried over the Tasman Sea. Rain falls here all year round, although it should be noted that precipitation in the local summer months (November-March) is less than in winter.
Because New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are exactly opposite to those in the Netherlands. When it’s winter with us, it’s summer in New Zealand. As soon as it gets to autumn in New Zealand, spring starts with us. It is noticeable that when you travel south, you get further from the equator, because unlike with us (in the northern hemisphere) the temperature usually drops the further south you go.
Summer in New Zealand
Summers in New Zealand are pleasantly warm, rarely getting too hot. In the mountains it is a lot cooler and it can be wonderful to stay if it gets too hot and/or stuffy along the coast. The daytime temperature is between 21 and 28 degrees throughout the summer, with possible local exceptions. In the east, the temperature can even rise to around or above thirty degrees, but you will not experience extremely hot weather with temperatures around or above forty degrees, such as in “neighboring country” Australia.
In the summer months, large differences in weather and temperature can occur within relatively small distances. While it is sunny and summery on the coast, it can rain a lot 100 kilometers inland and especially at higher altitudes and be ten to fifteen degrees cooler. You see this mainly on the west side of the mountains and in the north of the islands.
The winter months in New Zealand range from mild and quite sunny to cold and wintery in the highest places in New Zealand. The snow line drops to about 500-600 meters in the winter months and snowfall is also possible in lower areas on the South Island. Especially on the east side of the South Island you have snowfall several times a year in the lower areas. A little higher up, the snowfall can cause serious nuisance due to the amounts that can sometimes fall in a short time. From about 2500 meters (North Island) to 2000 meters (South Island) there is eternal snow. The white layer that you find here does not melt or only partially melts in the summer months, so that the landscape here always looks white.
Unpredictable and hit and miss
The weather in New Zealand can be very unpredictable and changeable. In the interior, the weather can even change completely several times a day, so that people sometimes talk about ‘four seasons in one day’. You see this volatility all year round, especially in the west and inland areas. It is quite possible that it will be 24 degrees one day and sunny and that it will be just 12 degrees the next day, with plenty of rain, hail and wind. Anyone who goes on holiday to New Zealand should therefore take all possible weather conditions into account with his or her travel equipment. Especially if you are planning to travel around you should bring both warm and summer clothes. In the spring and autumn, the unpredictability is the worst. You can experience a difference of thirty degrees within a round trip.
Hurricanes are coming in New ZealandThe weather in New Zealand can be very unpredictable and changeable. In the interior, the weather can even change completely several times a day, so that people sometimes talk about ‘four seasons in one day’. You see this volatility all year round, especially in the west and inland areas. It is quite possible that it will be 24 degrees one day and sunny and that it will be just 12 degrees the next day, with plenty of rain, hail and wind. Anyone who goes on holiday to New Zealand should therefore take all possible weather conditions into account with his or her travel equipment. Especially if you are planning to travel around you should bring both warm and summer clothes. In the spring and autumn, the unpredictability is the worst. You can experience a difference of thirty degrees within a round trip.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature||Hours of sunshine per day||Days of rainfall per month||Water temperature|
Best time to visit New Zealand
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to New Zealand? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. New Zealand is the second largest country in Oceania after Australia. New Zealand consists of two large islands and several smaller islands. The northern island is called Noordereiland and the southern island is called Zuideiland. Can you imagine easier-to-remember names? It is often said that the North Island has a subtropical climate and the South Island has a temperate climate. That is not true. In fact, almost all of New Zealand has a temperate maritime climate with a transition on the mountain tops via the cool maritime climate and the cool continental climate to a tundra climate. Although virtually all of New Zealand has the same climate type, this does not mean that the weather on North Island and South Island matches. On Noordereiland it is on average slightly warmer, with the differences especially noticeable during the winter. South Island, on the other hand, is drier again.
The best time to travel for a holiday in New Zealand is from December to March. Since the country is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to ours. When it’s summer with us, it’s winter in New Zealand. And vice versa, of course.
In terms of temperatures, New Zealand has almost a perfect climate. Summers are pleasantly warm with maximum temperatures usually between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius and minimums between 12 and 16 degrees. The winter months are fairly mild. Think of afternoon temperatures that average around 13 to 15 degrees on North Island and around 10 to 12 degrees on South Island on the coast. As you go further south and/or more inland, temperatures generally drop. You see this especially in the winter. It can freeze inland on both islands. In the mountain areas moderate to severe frost is possible in the central part of the South Island.
In winter, snowfall occurs in New Zealand. There is significantly more snow on the South Island than on the North Island, where snowfall mainly occurs at the higher altitudes. Coastal areas often remain free of snow, although on the South Island it occurs on average once or twice a year that a white layer can be seen along the coast.
In the mountains there is enough snow in the winter in many places to be able to enjoy winter sports. New Zealand’s largest ski area, Whakapapa, is centrally located on the North Island. At about two thousand meters above sea level you can ski and snowboard here in the winter.
The ski season on Noordereiland starts at the end of June and lasts until mid-November. On the South Island you can enjoy all kinds of winter sports from mid-June to the end of October. The best time to travel for a winter sports holiday in New Zealand is from July to September.
New Zealand during the school holidays
For Europeans, New Zealand has one major drawback as a holiday destination: it is a long journey to get there. In the best case scenario, you travel to New Zealand in almost a day and a half, but there are also routes where you are on the road for more than two days. That makes it a bit tricky if you’re stuck with school holidays, for example because of school-age children. As a result, the short school holidays are no longer available for a holiday in New Zealand. The Christmas holidays and the May holidays, which each last two weeks, could well be. Because you effectively have a maximum of twelve days left on site, a serious tour of New Zealand in those two holidays is almost impossible. The only school holiday that offers the opportunity to spend at least two weeks in New Zealand is the summer holidays. The disadvantage is that it is winter in New Zealand then. That means lower temperatures, shorter days, more precipitation and darker weather. You can take the winter sports with you if you want. Snowfall means that some of New Zealand’s most beautiful hikes are not an option. The summer holidays may not be the best travel time to celebrate a holiday in New Zealand, the country also shows beautiful nature during this period.