Stunning hikes in the summer, white powder getaways in the winter and cultural festivals year-round means New Zealand is always ready to play host. The land of inspiring Māori culture and truly breathtaking landscapes is hard to reach for some, but no matter when you visit, there's always a Kiwi adventure to experience. 

Here's our guide to the best time to visit New Zealand. 

High Season: December to February 

Best time for outdoor activities 

Two people in silhouette ride on bikes during sunset near a large body of water.
High season is the perfect time to head outdoors in New Zealand © Rob Tucker / Venture Taranaki Tru

Summer brings busy beaches, gorgeous hiking weather, cricket matches and loads of festivals like Rhythm & Vines, Art-Deco and Fringe. The large crowds mean you’ll have to move fast. Book ahead because accommodation prices are at their highest.  

Shoulder Season: March to May

Best time for outdoor festivals  

A person in a white costume and mask at the WOMAD
New Zealand's WOMAD festival is a celebration of music, arts and dance © Rob Tucker / Venture Taranaki Tru

Expect cooler, but pleasant weather, autumn colors, a warmish ocean and long evenings. Fewer crowds mean shorter lines and popular road-trip routes like Auckland to the North are clear, particularly after Easter. Popular events during this time include Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival, the Jazz National, WOMAD and Bluff Oyster & Food Festival.    

Low Season: June to August 

Best time for budget travel 

A snowboarder jumping off a cliff on a sunny day
Low season is the best time to hit the slopes © Ben Heys / Shutterstock

Though warm weather beach towns will be half asleep, ski towns are thriving with lots of skiing and snowboarding to enjoy. So depending on where you head, you will either be in the thick of the action (and crowds) or nabbing some deals at the warm weather regions. Both instances will require booking accommodation ahead of time.    


With perfect weather and the cricket season in full swing, it's holiday time for the locals.
Key events: Festival of Lights, Bread & Circus Festival, Auckland Folk Festival. 

Ladies dressed as 1920s showgirls pose wearing white feather headbands and sparkly tops with fringe at the Napier Art Deco Festival
There are a host of outdoor festivals in New Zealand © Kerry Marshall/Getty Images


NZ kids are back at school and the “sauv blanc” is chillin' in the fridge; this is high summer. There is no shortage of festivals and sporting events to choose from. 
Key events: Hamilton Sevens, Waitangi Day, Marlborough Wine & Food Festival, New Zealand Festival of Arts, Fringe, Art Deco Weekend, Splore, Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival. 


A hint of autumn and harvest time in the vineyards and orchards. Celebrate Māori culture at the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival. 
Key events: Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival, Artists Open Studios, Wildfoods Festival, WOMAD, Pasifika Festival Auckland City Limits.  

New Zealand's most scenic day hikes 


The ocean is still swimmable and the weather still mild, with nary a long line in sight.
Key events: National Jazz Festival, Clyde Wine & Food Festival. 

The outdoors are a major draw to visit New Zealand © Rob Tucker/ Venture Taranaki Tru


Chilly winter beckons, but that doesn't stop the festivals.
Key events: Bluff Oyster & Food Festival, New Zealand International Comedy Festival. 


It's ski season! Queenstown and Wānaka come to life in winter.
Key events: Matariki, New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards, LUMA Southern Light Project.

A dog wearing ski goggles waits for a chair lift at the Queenstown Winter Festival
The Queenstown Winter Festival is for all © Dianne Manson /Getty Images


Ski season reaches its peak with Queenstown's Winter Festival. If you want to avoid crowds, hit Mt Ruapehu on the North Island.
Key events: Queenstown Winter Festival, New Zealand International Film Festival, Russell Birdman. 


Land a good deal on accommodation pretty much anywhere except ski towns.
Key events: Taranaki International Arts Festival, Bay of Islands Jazz & Blues Festival, Beervana. 


Spring is sprung. The amazing and surprising World of WearableArt is always a hit.
Key events: Auckland on Water Boat Show, World of WearableArt (WOW). 


Post-rugby and pre-cricket, sports fans twiddle their thumbs: a trip to Kaikōura, perhaps? Around the rest of NZ, October is “shoulder season” – reasonable accommodation rates, minimal crowds and no competition for the best campsites.
Key events: Nelson Arts Festival, Kaikoura Seafest. 


Across Northland, the Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast, NZ's iconic pohutukawa trees bloom, the weather picks up and tourists start to arrive.
Key events: Toast Martinborough, Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations, NZ Tattoo & Art Festival, Highlands 101, Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. 


Summertime! Office workers surge towards the finish line. Everyone gears up for Christmas and shopping centers are packed out.
Key event: Rhythm & Vines. 

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Virtual Vacation: New Zealand 
The best wild swimming spots in New Zealand 
Hiking in New Zealand with a toddler is a lot easier than you imagine 

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