New Zealand lies between 37 and 47 degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn. New Zealand enjoys mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and abundant sunshine throughout most of the country. New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10 ºC in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which results in mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and many hours of sunshine.
As New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature decreases as you travel further south. The north of New Zealand is subtropical and the south temperate. The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest June, July and August. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20 – 30ºC and in winter between 10 – 15ºC.
New Zealand does not have a large temperature range and certainly not the extremes found in most continental climates. However, New Zealand weather can change unexpectedly—as cold fronts or tropical cyclones quickly blow in. Consequently, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you’re going hiking or doing other outdoor activities. Layering clothing is always a good option in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s summer months are December to February. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild. March to May are New Zealand’s autumn months. While temperatures are a little cooler than summer, the weather can still be excellent, and it is possible to swim in some places until as late as April. New Zealand’s winter months of June to August bring colder weather to much of the country, and more rain to most areas in the North Island. Mountain ranges in both islands become snow-covered, providing stunning vistas and excellent conditions for skiing. While the South Island has cooler winter temperatures, some areas of the island experience little rainfall in winter, so this is an ideal time to visit glaciers, mountains, and other areas of scenic beauty. Spring lasts from September to November, and New Zealand’s spring weather can range from cold and frosty to warm and hot.
Most places in New Zealand receive over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, with the sunniest areas—Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Marlborough—receiving over 2,350 hours. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months it can be light until 9.00 in the evening.
New Zealand experiences relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong during the summer months. In order to avoid sunburn, people are always encouraged to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when they are in direct summer sunlight.
New Zealand’s average rainfall is high—between 640 millimetres and 1500 millimetres—and evenly spread throughout the year. Auckland is traditionally known for its rain and Wellington for its strong, gusty winds though both cities do enjoy plenty of dry and still days throughout the year!